Christopher J. Wheatley
The Dublin stage of the Restoration and the eighteenth century has largely been dismissed as “West British” and its plays for the most part have been forgotten. Christopher J. Wheatley examines the works by Protestant dramatists that reveal the complex alliances and fissures of Anglo-Irish society during the age of the Penal Laws. From Richard Head’s Hic et Ubique (1663) to Mary O’Brien’s The Fallen Patriot (1790), Wheatley shows how selected plays demonstrate that the Irish Protestants were far from a monolithic caste united by the shared interest of maintaining control over the Catholic majority. He traces the slow transition by which the English of Ireland came to think of themselves as Irish—without necessarily being prepared to allow Irish emancipation. Precisely because drama is the product of a complex interaction between text, company, and audience, these plays reveal the many divergent factions and conflicting impulses that shaped Ireland between about 1660 and 1800, the traces of which remain in Irish society today.
“This study is important for all students of the 18th century and particularly for those interested in Irish drama.’” — Choice
“Wheatley’s research is thorough and his arguments are … convincing and … even enlightening…. ®eaders will be inspired to consider afresh the intricacies of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Irish society, and none can fail to feel its resonances with many of the issues facing Irish society today.” — Review of English Studies
“[F]ascinating documents of emerging, yet fractured, Protestant cultural identity. This study is useful reading not only for those who would study the roots of Irish theatre, but also for those interested in the emergence of a public articulation of cultural identity which we might term politics.” — Irish Review
“This is a book that opens up a new set of possibilities for historians. It serves as a reminder that the reconstruction of the attitudes and values which underlay the activities of politicians and others is possible with the imaginative use of previously neglected material, and foremost among that is the less than polished works which Wheatley submits to such revealing scrutiny. This is a book that all those engaged in the study of high politics and the machinations of eighteenth-century Irish bishops should be compelled to read.” — Journal of Ecclesiastical History
“Through his carefully researched and nuanced readings of a body of plays by Irish Protestants from 1663 to the 1770s he demonstrates that eighteenth-century Irish culture was a complex tapestry, not merely a series of oppositional units….” — Journal of English and Germanic Philology
Winner of the 2000 Robert Rhodes Prize for the Best Book in Literary Studies, American Conference for Irish Studies