Life after Emmet’s death: Sarah Curran’s literary and friendship circle

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Sarah Curran (1782–1808) has been remembered chiefly as a tragic figure – the heartbroken beloved of martyred United Irishman Robert Emmet. In over two centuries of Irish republicanism, in academic histories, and drama and literature, Curran has variously symbolised Irish resistance to the Union, a prostate Ireland under British rule, and the Victorian ideal of self-sacrificing womanhood. What unifies these representations is that they all define her chiefly in relation to a male historical figure. Building on existing scholarship theorising women’s networks, and focusing specifically on Curran’s closest friendships, this article reappraises Curran’s legacy by repositioning her within the literary circle of which she was part and reconstructing her friendship network. This article enriches existing understandings of Irish female literary networks in the period and rehabilitates Curran as a historical figure in her own right, who had meaningful personal relationships that extended beyond her love affair with Emmet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-135
Number of pages17
JournalIrish Studies Review
Issue number2
Early online date25 May 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 25 May 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • History
  • Cultural Studies
  • nineteenth-century poetry
  • literary networks
  • friendships
  • Sarah Curran
  • women’s history


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