Wolfe Tone

Second edition

Marianne Elliott

- +

ISBN: 9781786942067

Publication: March 31, 2019

Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763-1798) was the founder of Irish Republican nationalism. As such his political ideas and the circumstances of his life and early death have become powerful political weapons in the hands of later nationalists. Today his name still arouses strong passions and he is hailed as the first prophet of an independent Ireland. Published originally in 1989, Marianne Elliott’s book was the first major biography of Tone, using a wealth of new material to examine his personal life and public actions. Tracing him from his upbringing as a member of the Protestant elite, through his involvement in Irish radical politics, his exile in America, his secret negotiations with the French and return to Ireland with a French invasion force, to his trial for treason and his suicide while awaiting execution, it was a monumental publication that won numerous awards and gained much praise. This second edition brings this award-winning book up to date with new scholarship, new historical insights and fresh insights by Professor Marianne Elliott herself, making a crucial publication for all scholars and readers of Irish history.

Professor Marianne Elliott, the Director of the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies, is internationally recognised as one of Ireland's leading historians and is best known for her acclaimed biography 'Wolfe Tone: Prophet of Irish Independence' (Yale), which won numerous awards and for 'The Catholics of Ulster: A History' (Penguin).

List of Illustrations and Maps Acknowledgements A Tribute to Kay Dickason Introduction Part I Early Life (1763–1790) 1. Family and Education 2. Sentimental Schooling 3. Middle Temple 4. Gentleman of the Law Part II Politics (1790–1791) 5. Whig 6. Radical Part III Across the Religious Divide (1791) 7. Anti-Popery and the Rise of Presbyterian Radicalism 8. Argument on Behalf of the Catholics 9. Belfast and the Society of United Irishmen Part IV Agent to the Catholics (1792–1793) 10. Uniting the Sects 11. Catholic Agent 12. Mission to the North 13. Ascendancy on the Attack 14. Catholic Convention 15. Hopes Dashed Part V War Crisis (1793) 16. Witch Hunt 17. The United Irish Society in Disarray Part VI Revolutionary (1794–1795) 18. Treason 19. Emergence of a Revolutionary 20. Exile in America Part VII Mission to France (1796–1797) 21. Republican ‘Ambassador’ in Paris 22. Irish Invasion Plans 23. Adjutant-General 24. Bantry Bay 25. Roving Mission in Northern Europe 26. Demise of Hoche Part VIII Final Days (1797–1798) 27. Mission in Decline 28. Crisis 29. Trial and Death 30. Aftermath Conclusion: The Cult of Tone Notes Select Bibliography Index

... Elliott is to be commended for this remarkable portrait.
  Irish Literary Supplement, Fall

An accomplished, beautifully written biography that is essential reading for anyone interested in late eighteenth-century Irish history. . . . Immensely readable and extremely informative.
John Newsinger   Labour History Review

Elliott is one of only a handful of writers to attempt a biography, and hers is the first that can claim to be exhaustive and authoritative. She succeeds brilliantly. Not only is this the best biography of Tone ever produced, it is certain to be ranked among the very best biographies of any political figure in Irish history.
Gary Owens   Canadian Journal of Irish Studies

More than a mere Life, daringly dramatic and romantic in itself, for Tone's story is also that of Ireland republicanism and of the impact of the French Revolution. . . . Dr. Elliott is likely the best qualified Irish historian writing today to have given us this authoritative work. The narrative is beautifully balanced and soundly based on sure groundwork among a wealth of new material in sources ignored or unavailable to former biographers of Theobald Wolfe Tone. This is a lucidly searching study of a most complex character who emerged from the Protestant Irish elite to become the mouthpiece of Irish national aspirations and the catalyst of political and military actions in the heady days of the French Revolution. . . . Dr. Elliott's portrait is full of insights, sensitive and fair-minded because it is thoroughly researched, has a restrained sympathy for her subject and is written in a crisp style. This nonsentimental life of Tone deserves a warm reception and a wide readership.
John McGurk   History Today

Fluently written, skillfully constructed and rigorously scholarly. It draws on an impressive array of sources from archives in Ireland, England, France, and the U. S. A., and, as political biography, it successfully maintains the delicate balance between public and private, between 'life' and 'time'. . . . Dr. Elliott also unearths new information and brings fresh perspectives to bear. . . . Careful research and meticulous detail are the rule. It is a measure of Dr. Elliott's thoroughness, indeed, that alternative readings of Tone's career can be made from the material which she presents.
Jim Smyth   Irish Economic and Social History

This extensively researched, lucidly written and sensitively interpreted work is not only a major contribution to Irish historiography, but is one which will have important public influence in challenging many of the simplistic public notions of Wolfe Tone's attitude towards the separation of Ireland from Britain.
John Cooney   The Irish Times

Tone's attitude to terrorism is explored by Marianne Elliott in the first major biography of the man who is claimed by constitutional nationalists and militant republicans as their inspiration.

Marianne Elliott's book could be described as one of the very few major definitive biographies of an Irish political figure of modern history.
  The Irish Times

This book puts previous biographies of Tone altogether in the shade. Dr. Elliott brings to her work a specialist knowledge of Franco-Irish relationships in the revolutionary period, and her Partners in Revolution book was an invaluable background for their study of Tone. Her familiarity with a rich array of sources results in a fuller picture of the subject than we've had heretofore, and the French and American contexts are particularly satisfying. All in all, it is unlikely that anything of substance will be added to the Tone story.
  Sunday Independent

This is an excellent biography: the first life of Tone to be based on extensive research and probably also the last; 'definitive' probably does apply.
Conor Cruise O'Brien   The Times (London)

A marvelous exposition from one of that group of outstanding young Irish historians. It is written with great verve and empathy and painstaking research.
  The Irish Times

The creation of Tone as a relic . . . required that he be wrenched out of his historical and political context. The great virtue of Marianne Elliott's biography is that she has placed him firmly back within it.
Thomas Flanagan   Newsday

The first large-scale biography of the Irish nationalist.
  The Bookseller

Marianne Elliott's study of Tone does not in any way diminish or demean the Father of Irish Republicanism or his role in the grand cause of Irish Nationalism. Quite the opposite. This book adds strength, stature, and verve to the life and times of Wolfe Tone as he struggled to break the connection with England.
  Irish Socialist Review

Nobody is better qualified to tell this story than Marianne Elliott. She leaves no stone unturned in a masterly trawl through archives in England, Ireland, France and the U. S. A., unearthing much new material on the way. Her command of the sources for the 1780s is awesomely thorough. Whether the issue is piracy, Pacific exploration or daily life in London and Paris, she is familiar with the best and most recent scholarship."—
Frank McLynn   The Times Higher Education Supplement

In Ireland, where the dead hand of history still has the power to inflame political passions, the name of Theobald Wolfe Tone has a special place. Hailed as the founder of Irish Republican nationalism, he is a hero to the Brit-bashing provisional I.R.A. and Sinn Fein, members of which make an annual pilgrimage to his grave in County Kildare. In Ulster, this staunch Protestant is ignored by his countrymen. The advocate of an alliance between Ulster Presbyterians and Roman Catholic peasants against absentee English landowners, Wolfe Tone negotiated with the revolutionary French Republic and welcomed a French invasion of Ireland in 1798. Captured by the British, he was tried for treason and sentenced to hang, a fate he cheated by committing suicide. . . . This book is the definitive scholarly biography.
  The Washington Post Book World

Traces the life of the recognized founder of Irish Republican Nationalism, from his upbringing and education as a member of the Irish Protestant elite, through his involvement in Irish radical politics, his exile in America and secret negotiations in France, to his trial for treason and his suicide while awaiting execution.
  British Book News

Highly readable and splendidly illustrated, this work must rank as the final assessment of Wolfe Tone. It deserves a wide and appreciative readership.
Seamus Kelters   The Irish News

Mrs. Elliott has written a full and fair biography—a brave book.
Terence de Vere White   Daily Telegraph

This book puts previous biographies of Tone altogether in the shade. . . . A story in the best sense. . . . Elliott shows a critical and imaginative sympathy with her subject, an approach indispensable to the biographer's understanding. The Wolfe Tone that emerges is historically credible, warts and all, though the warts are mostly of the benign variety.
John A. Murphy   The Irish Herald

[Tone] has for the first time received a thorough biography by the talented scholar, Marianne Elliott... Tone himself now comes alive in Elliott's completely researched pages and in her meticulous reconstruction of Tone's exciting world and its rush of events. Superb notes, bibliography, and index, plus a revealing closing essay on the tortuous building of the 'cult of Tone' that followed his death.

A splendid biography.
John Kavanagh   The Irish Post

A work of such thorough and perceptive skill that there will never need to be another.
  The Observer

Admirably written, and well illustrated.
Brian Fallon   The Irish Times

[A] cool, splendidly researched biography...If Marianne Elliott dismantles the myth she in no way debunks the individual. Rather she releases a much more admirable figure, humane, high spirited, cultivated, very much of his turbulent, radical liberal times.
Peter Lennon   The Guardian

Marianne Elliott ...is better qualified than anyone to crack the Tone conundrum. Her meticulously documented Wolfe Tone balances a narrative of well-judged pace-accelerating as it reaches the climax of Tone's suicide before his execution-with clear, often subtle analysis...This is the fullest account of Tone's life to date; it is readable and warmly but critically sympathetic.
Angus Macintyre   Times Literary Supplement

[A] beautifully written biography . . . its major fresh contribution to historical understanding is perhaps in the picture it gives of Tone in his pre-French, pre-Revolutionary days. She treads adroitly through what is still a politically loaded subject, using a very solid basis of research to dispose of myths in the subsequent cult of Tone. . . . Her able deployment of the wealth of material that has come to light since Frank MacDermot wrote in 1939, makes this undoubtedly the best biography of Tone available and easily the best written."—
Michael Duffy   French History

[A] detailed and compelling biography of Ireland's major revolutionary figure of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. . . . The figure which emerges from these pages is far more complicated and humane than the icon which myth has long projected. He appears more vulnerable, less powerful and, for all this, more heroic. . . . The most important, and even compelling aspect of this work is the liberation of Tone and his thought from the polemical trap in which he has long been ensnared."—
Kevin O'Neill   Social History

A splendid scholarly portrait of the man behind the myth, the only one ever likely to be needed. . . . A fine complement to Tone's delightful autobiography.
Robert Kee   The Independent on Sunday

There have been many accounts of these events, but none so well documented as that given by Marianne Elliott. Partners in Revolution is a veritable tour de force.
John W. Boyle   Albion

Sheds much new light both on Tone and his times; and . . . it prompts new and more informed discussion of that key decade in the modern history of Ireland, the 1790s.
Tom Bartlett   Linen Hall Review

A major academic achievement.
Maurice R. O'Connell   Catholic Historical Review

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

544 Pages

ISBN: 9781786942067

Publication: March 31, 2019

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