“Ron Ebest’s book dramatically advances the discussion of the character of Irish-American culture in the earlier twentieth century. These pages constitute a brilliantly orchestrated conversation among texts and events—the result of hard thinking on major concerns that both define the Irish and help us understand American ethnicity in general. Private Histories is literary history at its very best.” —Charles Fanning, Professor of English and History, Director of Irish and Irish Immigration Studies, Southern Illinois University Carbondale; and author of The Irish Voice in America
“Thanks to Ron Ebest’s assiduous scholarship, Frank McCourt and others of his ilk can now know the names of the forebears to whom they should be sending thank you notes. This treasure trove of established and newly unearthed voices will go a long way to filling in the glaring gap in the record of the contributions by Irish-American writers to the enduring literature of the United States.” —Madeleine Blais, author of In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle; The Heart Is an Instrument: Portraits in Journalism; and Uphill Walkers: A Memoir of a Family
“Private Histories is a fresh and penetrating analysis of Irish-American literature in its most important phase. It makes a strong contribution to the field with its original insights and wise judgments.” —Robert Butler, Canisius College
Private Histories is a complete literary history of the American Irish during the first part of the twentieth century. Ebest analyzes themes of particular importance to early-twentieth-century Irish Americans—such as religion, marriage, family, economic hardship, social status, and education—in the writings of well-known authors, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Eugene O’Neill. He also explores these issues in the works of lesser known authors, such as the Vanity Fair satirist Anne O’Hagan, labor activist and novelist Jim Tully, muckraking journalist Clara Laughlin, and the mystery writer John T. McIntyre.
Ebest’s highly readable style makes Private Histories an excellent book for undergraduate and graduate courses on Irish-American literature and history, as well as for general readers interested in this fascinating subject.
“Ebest’s superb interdisciplinary study, Private Histories: The Writing of Irish Americans, 1900–1935, follows in the tradition of Charles Fanning’s landmark studies of this genre in the nineteenth century and advances our knowledge of this literature. Private Histories is both a definitive survey of Irish American writing in the pre-depression era as well as a major historiographical assessment of the role of this writing in shaping what is known about Irish America in those years.” — History: Reviews of New Books
“ . . . A critical literary history that compares the literary representation of Irish American life in the early decades of the 20th century with the historical context . . . [T]he study is particularly valuable for its recovery of a host of historically significant but forgotten Irish American writers of the period-Jim Tully, Ellen Glasgow, Kate Jordan, Donn Byrne, Anne O’Hagan, and George Kelly, to name a few . . . Highly recommended.” — Choice
“Ebest . . . explores religion, family, marriage and more in the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, James T. Farrell and Eugene O’Neill. It is in the work of lesser known authors (such as Anne O’Hagan, Jim Tully, Clara Laughlin and John T. McIntyre) that Ebest perhaps makes his most interesting contribution.” — Irish America
“This well-researched and erudite study belongs on the short list of essential books on Irish-American culture in the twentieth-century.” — New Hibernia Review
“Ebest’s extraordinarily broad review of Irish American writing and scholarship is accompanied by insightful analysis and nuanced observations. Undoubtedly, Private Histories will interest the general reader and prove useful in undergraduate and graduate courses in Irish American literature and history.” — Journal of American Ethnic History
“Often amusing, always articulate and intelligent, this period study certainly leaves its audience with an awareness of and appreciation for the transformative and formative years in Irish-American literature as well as its place in the evolving canon.” — Irish Literary Supplement