Pioneering Alexandrans

Pioneering Alexandrans

edited by Ronan Fanning

Publication Date: 7 Oct 2016


The 150th Anniversary of the founding of Alexandra College, Dublin’s leading independent school for girls, fell in the Autumn of 2016, when this commemorative volume was published.

The work takes the form of detailed biographical entries taken from the nine-volume Dictionary of National Biography, selected and with an overarching introduction by the historian Ronan Fanning. Where relevant, entries will be accompanied by photographs.

There are seventy-seven biographies—sixty-four of women and thirteen of men (Alexandra College was originally co-educational)—most of them Irish-born or with careers within Ireland. These highly achieved individuals—writers, artists, politicians (such as Chiam Herzog, President of Israel from 1982 to 1993), scholars, educationists, republican activists, actors, fashion designers, musicians,doctors, lawyers and philanthropists—cover the full spectrum of life within Ireland and illuminate the progress of the school as well as a newly independent Ireland. They form a fascinating mirror to a society in formation and an ethos built through an institution and its character.

Some of the better-known names include Anne Jellicoe, Margaret Barrington, Winifred Mary Letts, Mary Manning, Martin Ross and Edith Somerville, Enid Starkie, Margaret Stokes, Estella Solomons, Mary Swanzy, Rhoda Coghill, Shelah Richards, John Joly, and Grace Gifford.

This invaluable reference work and history will form an important addition to the works available on the centenary of Ireland’s birth as a nation, and on the sequecentenary of one of its most prominent seats of learning.

You may also enjoy A Shared Home Place by Seamus Mallon.

‘While the characters featured in the book have all merited an entry in the Dictionary of Irish Biography, many may not be familiar to the wider public, yet their contributions are significant and it is quite the roll-call. The number and wide range of pioneering Alexandrans is a tribute to the role the school played in the reform of girls’ education in Ireland in the nineteenth century, its history being bound up with the changing role of women in Irish society.’ History Ireland




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Publication Date

7 Oct 2016



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