Hanna Sheehy Skeffington was the most significant feminist in twentieth-century Ireland – an activist, writer and polemicist of the highest rank. An advocate of feminism, socialism, and republicanism, her writings – published in Britain and America as well as Ireland – transcended national boundaries. In these pages we experience the excitement of the suffrage years, anti-war campaigns, prison experiences, the impact of the brutal killing of her husband, meetings with Prime Minister Asquith and President Wilson, the bitter years of civil war, impressions of Bolshevik Russia, inter-war Europe, her friendship with Constance Markievicz, debates with Sean O’Casey, and her involvement in feminist campaigns against the exclusion of women from public life during the 1930s and 1940s. Her organisational abilities were recognised by the leaders of the Easter Rising, who agreed she would be the sole female member of a civil provisional government, to be formed if the Rising was a success.She remained an activist throughout her life, an advocate for a Workers’ Republic, serving a prison sentence in Armagh jail in 1933, campaigning against the Constitution in 1937 and standing for election to the Dail as an independent feminist in 1943.
Her political writings, including book and theatre reviews, newspaper articles, reminiscences, interviews, obituaries, and analysis of key events in the first half of the twentieth century- authoritative, passionate and witty – provide the reader with an indispensable source for understanding the personalities and the issues behind the long march for women’s equality and national independence in Ireland.