Charles Stewart Parnell, an enigmatic, icy aristocrat, was the unlikely and unchallenged leader of Irish nationalism from the mid-1870s, in its early heroic phase. Without him, Home Rule would not have become the formidable cause that it was. In this masterly biography, F.S.L. Lyons tackles the life and times of one of the greatest Irish statesmen of modern times. One of modern Irish biography's great triumphs, Charles Stewart Parnell has never been approached or surpassed.
Daniel O'Connell first articulated modern Irish nationalism; Parnell first organised it. As leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1875 until his death in 1891, Parnell became a figurehead for Irish nationalist ambition and used his influence to further the cause of Irish independence in the British parliament.
Parnell not only mobilised nationalist Ireland, exploiting discontent with the land system and a desire for political autonomy, he also subverted the usages of nineteenth-century British politics by supporting the introduction of the filibuster into the House of Commons. He divided Gladstone's Liberal party between those who supported Home Rule and those who opposed it and generally forced the Irish question to the heart of British politics where it remained until 1922. Even today, the continuing uncertainty over the future of Northern Ireland is a remote legacy of Parnell.
Parnell's fall – the product of his doomed and passionate love affair with Katharine O'Shea – was the most traumatic moment in nationalist history before 1916. It divided a generation. The passions it gave rise to, brilliantly recalled in the Christmas dinner scene of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, are fully explored in this magnificent work of scholarship.Charles Stewart Parnell: Table of Contents