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Distributed for University College Dublin Press

My Struggle for Life

This eloquent memoir provides an unrivalled insight into the life of a child reared in a working-class Irish Catholic community in late nineteenth-century Britain. No other author succeeds in depicting so vividly the texture of a life delimited by manual work, home and community ties as experienced by Irish migrants of the period. At the same time, it charts the tortuous route by which a young man struggled to free himself from a life of manual labour by using his literary talents to become a journalist and a popular novelist. Published in 1916, it reflects the world and assumptions of an emigre community between the failure of the Fenian movement and the Easter Rising, and it includes a telling vignette of the aged Fenian Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. An insightful picture of the world of those Home Rule supporters who lived outside Ireland emerges from this book.

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Table of Contents

Introduction by Paul O’Leary My birth My beginnings at school My burning sixpence - I yearn to be a navvy I go down a coal-pit Danger - I hear of Dickens and Byron My troubles begin Real overwork My struggle for the sun Deadliness of an easy job Despair makes me think of enlisting The Post Office Reporting I seek refuge in Cardiff Good-fortune comes my way An unexpected desire - I discover my true love My novel seeks without finding London, the university of universities My disapproval of London Paddington Station A new influence - I lecture at Cambridge My mysterious visitor Youth grown old Lunch at ’The Fountain’ I am a city clerk Index.

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