Born in Belfast in 1841, Rosa Mulholland (pseudonym Ruth Murray) was a prolific writer of poetry and fiction, for both adults and children. She published her first novel, Dunmara, at the age of 23, in 1864 and went on to publish over forty more before her death in 1921. Mulholland’s writing life began as a frequent contributor to Charles Dickens’ magazines Household Words and All the Year Round and later went on to publish extensively in The Irish Monthly magazine, a Catholic magazine owned by the Rev. Matthew Russell. In 1891, she married John Gilbert (chief secretary of the Public Records office) and eventually settled in Vila Nova, Blackrock, County Dublin.
For a new biography of Rosa Mulholland, see James H. Murphy’s Rosa Mulholland: Feminist, Victorian, Catholic and Patriot published by Edward Everett Root as part of the Irish Women Writers: Texts and Contexts series on the centenary of the writer’s death in 2021. See also – James Murphy’s blog post on Mulholland’s life here.
Rosa Mulholland Online
Below is a list of links to a range of digitized versions of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s books by Rosa Mulholland/Lady Gilbert. These digital copies have been produced and made freely available by The British Library, The Internet Archive. Library of Congress and Project Gutenberg. Where digital copies have not been identified, there are links to select works available in the National Library of Ireland.
Dunmara. London: Smith and Elder, 1864. (This title was originally published under pseudonym Ruth Murray and is also known by the alternative title, The Story of Ellen).
Hester’s History: A Novel. London: Chapman and Hall, 1869. (British Library Digital Collection)
The Wicked Woods of Tobereevil. London: Chapman and Hall. 1873 (Internet Archive)
The Little Flower Seekers Being Adventures of Trot and Daisy. London and Belfast: Marcus Ward and Co. 1873. (UCD Digital Library Collection)
Eldergowan or Twelve Months of My Life, and Other Tales. London. Marcus Ward and Co. and Royal Ulster Works, Belfast. 1874. (The University of Florida Digital Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries (UFDC)
First Christmas in Fifteen Pictures for Our Dear Little Ones. Ratisbon, New York : F. Pustet 1875. (The University of Florida Digital Collections, Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida (UFDC).
Five Little Farmers. London (1876)
The Wild Birds of Killeevy. London: Burns and Oates, 1883.
Four Little Mischiefs. London: Blackie and Son, 1883. (Internet Archive)
Hetty Gray: or, Nobody’s Bairn. London: Blackie, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dublin 1884. (The Internet Archive version is also available here)
Marcella Grace: An Irish Novel. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1886. Retrieved from Library of Congress Collection (https://lccn.loc.gov/ca07004940
Vagrant Verses. London: Kegan Paul, 1886 (The Internet Archive)
A Fair Emigrant. London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1888.
Giannetta: A Girl’s Story of Herself. New York: Scribner and Welford, 1889. Google Books.
The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly, and Other Stories. London: Hutchinson and Co. (1880). (Internet Archive)
The Mystery of Hall-in-the-Wood. London: The Sunday School Union, 1893. (British Library Digital Collection).
Marigold and other Stories. Dublin: Eason and Son; London, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co. (1894)
The Walking Trees and Other Tales. Dublin. M.H. Gill and Son, 1884.
Gems for the Young from Favourite Poets, Ed. Rosa Mulholland, 1884.
Our Own Story and Other Tales. London: Catholic Truth Society, 1896.
Nanno: A Daughter of the State. London: Grant Richards, 1899.
Onora. London: Grant Richards, 1900.
Terry: or, She Ought to have been a Boy. London, Glasgow and Dublin, 1900.
Cynthia’s Bonnet Shop. Blackie and Son, London, Glasgow and Dublin, 1900. The Internet Archive.
The Squire’s Grand-Daughter (1903)
A Girl’s Ideal, London: Blackie and Son, 1905. The Internet Archive.
The Tragedy of Chris: The Story of a Dublin Flower-Girl. London, Edinburgh, St. Louis: Sands. (1902)
Life of Sir John T. Gilbert, London, New York, Bombay, Longmans, Green, 1905. The Internet Archive.
Our Sister Maisie. London, Blackie and Son, 1907.
Cousin Sara: A Story of Arts and Crafts. London, Glasgow, Dublin, Bombay: Blackie and Sons, 1909. (The Internet Archive)
The O’Shaughnessy Girls. London and Glasgow: Blackie and Son, 1911 (The Internet Archive)
Fair Noreen: The Story of a Girl of Character. London: Blackie, 1912.
The Cranberry Claimants. New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1914.
The Daughter in Possession: The Story of a Great Temptation. London, Glasgow, Bombay: Blackie and Son, 1915. (Internet Archive)
O’Loghlin of Clare. New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1916. (The Internet Archive)
Narcissa’s Ring: The Story of a Strange Quest. London: Blackie and Son, 1916.
Dreams and Realities. London and Edinburgh: Sands and Company, 1916. (The Internet Archive)
Not to be taken at Bed-Time and Other Strange Stories. With an Introduction by Richard Dalby. Dublin: Swan River Press. 2020.
Featured Image: Image from The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly and Other Stories, (1880). Internet Archive Book Images.
In 2019, Swan River press issued Mulholland’s Not to Be Taken at Bedtime and Other Stories with a new introduction by Richard Dalby. Dublin, Swan River Press.
See David Barnett’s “Unquiet Spirits: the lost female ghost story writers return to haunt us”. In The Guardian. 22 October 2020 for a brief discussion of why women writers of supernatural fiction are not better known today.
For recent anthologies of ghostly fiction by British women writers, see Melissa Edmundon’s edited collections, Women’s Weird. Strange Stories by Women, 1890–1940 (2019). Handheld Press which contains stories by Edith Nesbit, May Sinclair, Mary Butts, DK Broster, Edith Warton, Margery Lawrence and Francis Stevens.
Selected stories by Mulholland are also featured in Sinéad Gleeson’s edited collections. See The Art of the Glimpse for Mulholland’s “The Hungry Death” while The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women Writers from the North of Ireland (2016) contains “The Mystery of Ora.”
The Dúchas project – National Folklore Archives Ireland – a treasure trove of information on ghosts in Irish folklore and the ghost stories in The School’s Collection can be found here.
See also Clodagh Tait’s article, “Worry Work: The Supernatural Labours of Living and Dead Mothers in Irish Folklore, Past & Present, Volume 246, Issue Supplement 15, December (2020): 217–238, https://doi-org.ucd.idm.oclc.org/10.1093/pastj/gtaa042
Dalby, Richard. “Rosa Mulholland, Mistress of the Macabre.” The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature, no. 9, Swan River Press (2017): 19–23
Hanson, Heidi. “From Reformer to Sufferer: The Returning Exile in Rosa Mulholland’s Fiction” in Re-Mapping Exile: Realities and Metaphors in Irish Literature and History Eds. Michael Boss and Irene Gilsenan Nordin and Britta Olinder, The Dolphin 34. Aarchus University Press, Denmark, 2005.
Murphy, Hames H. “She’s nothin’ but a shadda’: the politics of marriage in late Mulholland” in Anna Pilz and Whitney Standlee, eds. Irish Women’s Writing, 1878–1922: Advancing the Cause of Liberty. Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2016.
Murphy, James. H. “Insouciant Rivals of Mrs. Barton’: Gender and Victorian Aspiration in Geoge Moore and the Women Novelists of the Irish Monthly.” In Gender Perspectives on Nineteenth-Century Ireland: Public and Private Spheres. Eds. Margaret Kelleher and James H. Murphy. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, (1997): 221-28.
Murphy, James. H. ‘“Things which seem to you unfeminine”: gender and nationalism in the fiction of some upper middle class Catholic women novelists, 1880- 1910.’ In Border Crossings: Irish Women Writers and National Identities. Ed. Kathryn Kirkpatrick. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, (2000): 58-78.
O’ Keefe, Declan. “The Young Writer’s Saint: Women Writers in the Irish Monthly, 1873 – 97). In Engendering Ireland: New Reflections on Modern History and Literature. Eds Rebecca Anna Barr, Sarah-Anne Buckley and Laura Kelly. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, (2015): 156 – 176.
Kelleher, Margaret. “The Cabinet of Irish Literature: A Historical Perspective on Irish Anthologies,’ Eire-Ireland: A Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 38. 3-4, (2003): 68- 89.
Kelleher, Margaret. “Prose Writing and Drama in English, 1830–1890: from Catholic Emancipation to the Fall of Parnell.” in The Cambridge History of Irish Literature, Eds. Margaret Kelleher and Philip O’Leary, Vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, (2006): 449–499.
Brown, Stephen. J.M. Ireland in fiction: a guide to Irish novels, tales, romances and folklore. Maunsel and Company Limited, Dublin and London, 1916.
Read, Charles A. The Cabinet of Irish Literature: Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators, and Proses Writers of Ireland. Volume IV, T.P. O’Connor. London: Blackie and Son, Old Bailey: Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dublin. (1880): 270-272.