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The Great Famine

Studies in Irish History 1845-52

Edited by: R. Dudley Williams , T. Desmond Williams , Cormac O Grada

Publication Date: January 1992


The Great Famine: Studies in Irish History 1845-52 edited by R. Dudley Edwards and T. Desmond Williams

With this landmark contribution, the history of the Irish Famine is taken out of the hands of ‘the political commentator, the ballad singer, and the unknown maker of folk-tales’ and placed on a scholarly footing. Thus, one of the great disasters of the nineteenth century, and a watershed of modern Irish history, receives its true, authoritative measure.

First published in 1956 and long since out of print, this classic work of Irish history, originally intended to commemorate the Famine centenary, brought together several brilliant young Irish academics – Dudley Edwards, Oliver MacDonagh, R.B. McDowell, Roger McHugh, Theodore Moody, Kevin Nowlan, T.P. O’Neill and Desmond Williams – who were soon to become leaders in their field. Life in early nineteenth-century Ireland, analysis of the political background, the organization and distribution of relief, the causes and extent of emigration, the medical history of malnutrition, and an account of the Famine in oral tradition – all are pioneering, enduring contributions to the subject, illustrated by the Goyaesque iconography of steel engravings from The Illustrated London News.

This new edition, which marks the sesquicentenary of the Famine, includes a historiographical introduction rehearsing the original book’s protracted genesis and impact, and a bibliography which notes the research and accomplishments of a more recent generation of scholars.


‘The first detailed modern study of that disaster … a long-felt need of historians has been met.’ Norman Gash, History

‘A distinguished book and an important contribution to the history of nineteenth-century Ireland.’ Helen Mulvey, American Historical Review

The Great Faminemay be justly described as a pioneer work, amply documented, careful in its examination of evidence, cumulative in its impact upon the reader.’ Nicholas Mansergh, Irish Historical Studies

‘Recommended as the best place for the layman interested in work on the Famine to begin.’ Irish Roots

‘The individual studies have a notably high level of interest and value.’ W.L. Brown, English Historical Review


R. DUDLEY EDWARDS and T. DESMOND WILLIAMS, late Professors, respectively, of Modern Irish History and Modern History at University College Dublin, were two of the most celebrated historians of their generation in Ireland. This is the collaborative work for which they are best remembered.

CORMAC O’GRÁDA is Associate Professor of Economics at University College Dublin.

Also available as an ebook
Weight 1 kg
Dimensions 135 × 216 mm
Publication Date

January 1992


Paperback, 544pp