The Rebel in His Family: Selected Papers of William Smith O'Brien

Front Cover
William Smith O'Brien was an improbable revolutionary, ill at ease as a leader of the 1848 rising at Ballingarry, Co. Tipperary, and then as a convict languishing in Van Diemen's Land until 1854. His aristocratic background and demeanor, his late conversion to Repeal in 1843, and his refusal to engage in active politics during his final years in Ireland, have made him a perplexing figure for biographers as well as his contemporaries. His politics also perplexed and outraged his father's family, the O'Brien's of Dromoland in Co. Clare. Even so, as his extensive family correspondence reveals, O'Brien was never abandoned by the majority of his kinsfolk. The previously unpublished letters exchanged amongst the O'Brien family between 1819 and 1864 reveal an unexpectedly warm, if sententious personality, striving to preserve his family status and affections amidst controversy and disgrace. The publication of these letters is a fitting memorial to one of Ireland's most elusive rebels.

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About the author (1998)

Author and journalist Richard Harding Davis was born in Philadelphia on April 18, 1864. After studying at Lehigh and Johns Hopkins universities, he became a reporter and in 1890, he was the managing editor of Harper's Weekly. On assignments, he toured many areas of the world and recorded his impressions of the American West, Europe, and South America in a series of books. As a foreign correspondent, he covered every war from the Greco-Turkish to World War I and published several books recording his experiences. In 1896, he became part of William Randolph Hearst's unproven plot to start the Spanish-American War in order to boost newspaper sales when Hearst sent him and illustrator Frederick Remington to cover the Cuban rebellion against Spanish rule. In Cuba, Davis wrote several articles that sparked U.S. interest in the struggles of the Cuban people, but he resigned when Hearst changed the facts in one of his stories. Davis was aboard the New York during the bombing of Mantanzas, which gave the New York Herald a scoop on the war. As a result, the U.S. Navy prohibited reporters from being aboard any U.S. ships for the rest of the Cuban conflict. Davis was captured by the German Army in 1914 and was threatened with execution as a spy. He eventually convinced them he was a reporter and was released. He is considered one of the most influential reporters of the yellow journalist era. He died in Mount Kisco, New York on April 11, 1916.

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