Constance Markievicz (1868-1927), born to the privileged Protestant upper class in Ireland, embraced suffrage before scandalously leaving for a bohemian life in London and then Paris. She would become known for her roles as politician and Irish revolutionary nationalist. Her husband, Casimir Dunin Markievicz (1874-1932), a painter, playwright, and theater director, was a Polish noble who would eventually join the Russian imperial army to fight on behalf of Polish freedom during World War I. Revolutionary Lives offers the first dual biography of these two prominent European activists and artists. Tracing the Markieviczes’ entwined and impassioned trajectories, biographer Lauren Arrington sheds light on the avant-garde cultures of London, Paris, and Dublin, and the rise of anti-imperialism at the turn of the twentieth century.
Drawing from new archival material, including previously untranslated newspaper articles, Arrington explores the interests and concerns of Europeans invested in suffrage, socialism, and nationhood. Unlike previous works, Arrington’s book brings Casimir Markievicz into the foreground of the story and explains how his liberal imperialism and his wife’s socialist republicanism arose from shared experiences, even as their politics remained distinct. Arrington also shows how Constance did not convert suddenly to Irish nationalism, but was gradually radicalized by the Irish Revival. Correcting previous depictions of Constance as hero or hysteric, Arrington presents her as a serious thinker influenced by political and cultural contemporaries.
Revolutionary Lives places the exciting biographies of two uniquely creative and political individuals and spouses in the wider context of early twentieth-century European history.