The Mary Anne Sadlier Archive


   Mary Anne Sadlier (1820-1903), an Irish-American immigrant, wrote sixty volumes -- from domestic novels to historical romances to children's catechisms.

   While largely forgotten today, Sadlier's work stands as an important part of American literary history.

    In New Lights; or Life in Galway (1851),Sadlier was one of the first American writers to address the Irish Famine. In all, Sadlier's novels present a panoramic narrative of the trans-Atlantic voyage west of millions of immigrants.

    Sadlier's novels also require us to reexamine our conception of the literary genres central to nineteenth-century American literature. What does it mean, for example, when the rugged individual lighting out for the territories is not Natty Bumpo or Huck Finn, but an eighteen-year -old domestic servant named Bessy Conway?


      The Mary Anne Sadlier Archive is designed to stimulate critical discussion of this important and fascinating writer. Sadlier's novels are now out of print and can be read at only a handful of libraries. By putting Sadlier's novel on-line, I hope to get her work out of the "rare book room" and back into circulation. From this web site, you will be able to read one of Sadlier's domestic novels, Bessy Conway, the story of an Irish domestic servant who journeys to American to see the world and make her fortune during the era of the Great Famine. You will also be able to access a critical introduction to her work, related links and information about Sadlier's cultural context, the most comprehensive biographical sketch available, a complete bibliography of all of her works as well an extensive bibliography of related material.

Mary Anne Sadlier's Life and Work

     Bessy Conway; or, The Irish Girl in America. 1861

      Critical Introduction to the Work of Mary Anne Sadlier

      Select Bibliography

      Mary Anne Sadlier's Biography


Mary Anne Sadlier in Cultural Context

     Irish History

      Women and Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America

      The Domestic Novel

      The Irish Domestic Servant

      Nineteenth-Century Women Writers

      Ireland and Catholicism

      Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

      Living Conditions on New York's Lower East Side (1840-1900)