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Location : WCML

Start date : 9th February 2013

End date : 9th February 2013

‘A pair of oddities' in Manchester: Eva Gore-Booth and Esther Roper - a talk by Sonja Tiernan


At the age of twenty-six,Eva Gore-Booth was sent to recover from illness in the picturesque village of Bordighera in Italy. In the garden, standing under an olive tree, she first met a young English woman, Esther Roper. The encounter was to change the two women's lives forever.

Eva Gore-Booth was the daughter of an Anglo-Irish landlord who owned one of the largest estates in the West of Ireland. In stark contrast, Esther Roper was from working class stock. Within months of her return to Ireland, Eva made an extraordinary decision in order to be with Esther. In 1897, she rejected her aristocratic lifestyle, moving from an opulent mansion in the beautiful countryside of Sligo to a mid-terrace property in the smog-bound quarters of industrial Manchester.

This talk examines the remarkable thirty-year relationship of Eva and Esther. Once labelled as a pair of oddities, it is now clear that the women were open about their relationship, mixing with an eclectic group of radical gay and lesbian activists. The couple became formidable political advocates in England, often organising successful and radical campaigns for social justice.

Using recently uncovered letters, diaries and manuscripts, this story is a fascinating account of two women who refused to comply with the norms of society at the turn of the twentieth century.

Dr Sonja Tiernan is a Lecturer in Modern History at Liverpool Hope University and Secretary of the Women's History Association of Ireland. Her latest book, Eva Gore-Booth: an image of such politics was published by Manchester University Press in May 2012. This book is the first dedicated biography of the Irish playwright and political activist and is endorsed by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, as a significant publication.

2pm; free; all welcome