Bessy Conway; or, The Irish Girl in America.


By Mary Anne Sadlier

A note on the text:

     In an effort to make searching and referencing easier, the original page numbering has been inserted at appropriate places within the text. In addition, Mary Anne Sadlier's style and extensive use of dialect has been maintained. Sadlier's style differs from modern editing style in her frequent use of exclamation points, dashes and commas; she consistently does not capitalize the words following an interjection or broken phrase. The original orthography also has been preserved.

     In addition, I have given each chapter a short title. Although Sadlier gave descriptive chapter titles to her 1855 novel The Blakes and the Flanagans, she only titled one chapter of Bessy Conway -- "Chapter III -- The Storm." I have created these titles purely for ease of reference for the reader; in writing the titles I have attempted to give a brief plot summary, and well as to echo Sadlier's own writing style.

     Lastly, for aesthetic reasons I also have added illustrations which complement the story line of each chapter. The 1861 D. & J. Sadlier edition includes only two illustrations -- the drawing of Bessy Conway to the left, and the "Castle of Ardfinnan" that illustrates Chapter 22. All other illustrations and photographs have been taken from other sources.

     Finally, by not unimportantly, the text of Bessy Conway presented here is actually two slightly different things at once. It is a digitized version of the print edition of 1861 and, at the same time, it is a text at least partially restored to its original context. The various essays on Irish immigration, the status of women at the time, and of domestic servants, is an effort to reconstruct the context within which the novel was originally read and understood, the cultural context which served the reader of the time as a kind of decryption engine for understanding, not merely what the writer was saying, but what she meant.

That second text can be found in The Sadlier Archive

Liz Szabo
Charlottesville, VA
August, 1997

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