Barlow, Jane (c. 1857–1917)

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Barlow, Jane (c. 1857–1917)

Irish poet, critic, and chronicler of peasant life. Born Jane Barlow in Clontarf, County Dublin, Ireland, around 1857; died on April 17, 1917, in Bray, Ireland; daughter of Reverend James William Barlow (a vice provost of Trinity College, Dublin) and Mary Louisa Barlow; educated at home; never married; no children. Awarded honorary degree from Trinity College.

Selected works:

Bogland Studies (1892); Irish Idylls (1892); Kerrigan's Quality (1893); Maureen's Fairing (1895); Strangers at Lisconnel (1895); Ghost-Bereft (1901); By Beach and Bogland (1905); Flaws (1911); In Mio's Path (1917).

Jane Barlow, who was praised for her "admirable sketches of peasant-life in Ireland," spent her entire life in the environs about which she wrote. The daughter of a scholar and vice provost of Trinity College, she was educated at home with such success that she was awarded an honorary degree from Trinity College in 1904; the conferring of this degree upon a woman was rare, as the institution did not formally accept women.

Barlow was deeply invested in Ireland's past and future. Sympathies for the nationalist cause of Home Rule led to Barlow's first publications, though anonymous, in Dublin Magazine. Her first book, Bogland Studies, was published in 1892 by Thomas William Rolleston, who also gave W.B. Yeats his first appearance in print. Encouraged, she went on to produce some dozen or so volumes during her 20-year writing career.

Despite her somewhat frail constitution, Barlow loved to take long hikes through the Dublin and Wicklow mountains. She is said to have died of an illness brought on by a particularly harsh winter. Her work, much of it in verse form, was not in the bold realistic style of many Irish writers of her day but delighted readers by capturing not only the peasant dialect, but "the working of the rural mind and the emotions of the heart, fully and sympathetically understood." Her last sketch, "Rescues," appeared in the Satur day Review just ten days before her death in 1917 at age 60.


Madden-Simpson, Janet. Woman's Part. Dublin: Arlen House, 1984.

McCarthy, Justin. Irish Literature, Vol 1. Chicago, IL: DeBower-Elliott, 1904.

Crista Martin , freelance writer, Boston, Massachusetts