The Ballad of Lord Edward and Citizen Small

By: Neil Jordan


From multi-award-winning author and director Neil Jordan comes a new and stunning work of fiction, The Ballad of Lord Edward and Citizen Small.

‘It would begin with the burning mail coaches, my Citizen told me. And end with the citadel of freedom set up inside the castle gates. And I had a ticket for the playhouse for once. No more rapping at the stage door or hiding in the flies. So I took my time dressing that night while Julie attended to the lady and her child.

I had best be well appointed, for the curtain call or the advent of freedom, whichever happened first. But there was the problem of choice. Mine was limited to those well-worn Leinster duds, a greatcoat and some collarless shirts … And then I saw the case of his own clothes, which I had dragged all the way from Leinster House. I thought, he wouldn’t mind me wearing his. On this night of all nights.’

From multi- award-winning author and director Neil Jordan comes a new and stunning work of fiction, The Ballad of Lord Edward and Citizen Small. Blending the drama of real events with Jordan’s inimitable storytelling ability, this work spotlights a long-forgotten chapter in Ireland’s history.

The tale is related by Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s manservant Tony Small, a runaway slave who rescued Lord Edward after the Battle of Eutaw Springs during the American War of Independence. While the details of Lord Edward’s life are well-documented, very little is known of Tony Small, who, in this gripping narrative, examines the ironies of empire, captivity and freedom. Small, who knows too well the consequences of rebellion and resistance, reflects on Lord Edward’s journey from being a loyal servant of the British Empire to becoming a 1798 rebellion leader.

This story is populated with a brimming cast of characters, from Molly, who works as a maid in Leinster House, to Lord Edward’s lover Elizabeth Sheridan, her husband, playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Camden. The action moves from the Carolinas, to London, to Dublin, to the chaos of revolutionary Paris, and back to Ireland for its inevitable, tragic conclusion.

Jordan’s deft approach to The Ballad of Lord Edward and Citizen Small makes for a riveting parable of empire.


Neil Jordan is an Irish film director, screenwriter and author. His first book, Night in Tunisia, won a Somerset Maugham Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize (1979). He was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature (1981), the Irish PEN Award (2004), and the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award for Shade (2005) and Mistaken (2011), which also received the 2011 Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year. His films include Angel (1982), the Academy Award-winning The Crying Game (1992), Michael Collins (1996) and The Butcher Boy (1997).


‘Jordan’s films divide roughly between the fantastical and the realist …
His novels likewise, [and] he is at his most powerful when these two
strands are most tightly interwoven … [a] beautifully judged blend of
the ordinary and the uncanny.’ – FINTAN O’TOOLE

Irish fiction needed a cohesively great novel, pulsing with darkness,
intelligence and revelation. Here it is.’ EILEEN BATTERSBY, IRISH TIMES on Mistaken

‘There isn’t a false note anywhere in [Mistaken], either in terms of fidelity
to place and memory or of insight into character’ IRISH INDEPENDENT

‘It is an expertly spun ballad defined by themes of belonging, illusion and, fundamentally, fidelity.’ RTE

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 216 × 136 mm


Page Count


Publication Date

February 2021