Fanatic Heart: A Life of John Boyle O'Reilly 1844 - 1890

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9781555533953: Fanatic Heart: A Life of John Boyle O'Reilly 1844 - 1890

A comprehensive biography of a remarkable man who made significant and long-lasting contributions to literature, civil rights, and the Irish republican cause.

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About the Author:

A.G. Evans, a former broadcaster, is currently a freelance writer. He is the author of a biography of Monsignor John Hawes, The Conscious Stone, which received the Western Australia Week Literary Award for Nonfiction. He lives in Australia.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A workmanlike, highly readable, if somewhat old-fashioned biography of Irish-born poet John Boyle OReilly, whose adventurous life included armed rebellion against British rule in Ireland, penal servitude in Australia, a daring escape from captivity, and eventual success in the US as the leading voice for Irish-Americans. Australian biographer Evans grew up hearing tales of John Boyle OReilly, whose successful escape from Australias penal colony in 1869 made him an instant folk hero. Not surprisingly, Evans spends most of the book describing OReillys arduous two-year experience as a political prisoner in Australia and how he arrived there. OReilly was born in County Meath, Ireland; as a teenager, he became a soldier in the British army. While stationed in Dublin, OReilly secretly joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (or Fenians), a covert organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of British authority in Ireland. Just as OReilly and his Fenian conspirators were about to mount an armed uprising, an informer within their ranks notified British officials. OReilly was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, and transported to Australia. Evans meticulously describes OReillys long voyage down under, his life on a chain gang building roads in the murderous heat, and his literary endeavors. OReilly was a minor poet of the patriotic, sentimental Victorian sort, and even Evans, who clearly admires his subject, admits that OReilly never wrote a masterpiece, either in prose or poetry. Evans is a fine storyteller who relishes heroic adventure and the picaresque anecdote; like a 19th-century novelist, he moves the narrative along at a brisk pace. His account of OReillys breathtaking escape is masterfully done. After his escape, OReilly fled to Boston, where he became owner of the Boston Pilot, the most popular Catholic newspaper in the US. While Evans fails at making the case for OReillys literary genius, he succeeds in giving his readers an exciting story that reads like a fast-paced page-turner of a novel. (illustrations, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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