Grandmother and Wolfe Tone

By: Hubert Butler

Publication Date: January 1989


Grandmother and Wolfe Tone by Hubert Butler

Grandmother and Wolfe Tone is a third volume of essays – autobiographical, polemical, political, exploratory – by the most distinctive Irish writer of the age, in the highest tradition of Swift and Shaw. Hubert Butler’s remarkable consistency of vision and clarity of mind make him unique among Irish essayists in reconciling diversity of content with unity of impression. The focus of his writing is local, its force and application universal. Like Chekhov, he is an abiding humanist whose work evinces an unsurpassed moral and spiritual integrity.

‘The finest and most penetrating essayist this country has produced this century … there is not a dull page in this civilized and witty book.’ The Irish Times

‘The writer for whom I feel instinctive love – not just for the work, but for the human being who thought and shaped it – is Hubert Butler. … When the first collection of his articles and columns and lectures was published in 1985 he was 84 years old. But by the time of Butler’s death in 1991, readers throughout Europe and America were asking in amazement why he had not been part of their common culture before.’ Neal Ascherson, Independent on Sunday

‘A late and luscious windfall. Imagine an impossible combination of Flann O’Brien and Isaiah Berlin. Well, Butler comes close.’ Ferdinand Mount, Spectator

‘A humanistic essayist in the tradition of Montaigne, Butler also belongs in the company of George Orwell and the American Dwight Macdonald: political-literary-moral critics for whom we lack an exact word. He was spared writing about everyday politics, but he discussed the tragedy of the twentieth century with exceptional clarity and depth.’ Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Times Literary Supplement


HUBERT BUTLER was born in Kilkenny on 23 October 1900. Educated in England at Charterhouse and St John’s College, Oxford, he travelled extensively throughout Europe during the twenties and thirties before returning in 1941 to Co. Kilkenny, where he lived until his death in 1991. Market gardener, broadcaster, journalist and historian, his published works include Escape from the Anthill, The Children of Drancy, and In the Land of Nod, all of which won him international recognition. A one volume selection, The Sub-Prefect Should Have Held His Tongue, is available from Alan Lane Penguin in London; a further selection, Independent Spirit, appeared with Farrar, Straus & Giroux in New York in 1995.

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 156 × 234 mm
Publication Date

January 1989


Paperback, 253pp