Dora Sigerson Shorter

Dora Sigerson Shorter (née Dora Maria Sigerson; Dora Mary Sigerson; also known as Mrs. Clement Shorter. August 16th, 1866 – January 6th, 1918) was an Irish writer.

Her mother, Hester Varian, was also a writer, and their home was a meeting point for artists and intellectuals. Shorter was educated at home, and later attended the Dublin School of Art, and studied painting and sculpture. She started to publish early, contributing poems to the Irish MonthlyUnited Ireland, and the Nation. Her first book, a poetry collection, was published in 1893.

Shorter was very active in the Irish Literary Revival movement, and was involved in the Pan-Celtic Society. She was friends with Katharine Tynan, Alice Furlon, W. B. Yeats, Algernon Swinburne, and Louise Imogen Guiney, among others.  Shorter’s sister, Anna Hester Sigerson Piatt, was also a noted writer.

In July 1895, Dora married the literary critic Clement King Shorter, editor of the Illustrated London News and the Sphere magazine, and moved from Dublin to London, where she lived for the rest of her life.

She died at 51, in 1918. In his memoir, published in 1927, her husband wrote: “It was the strain of the War and Ireland’s association with it that killed her. She suffered heart-breaking anguish during the Irish Rising of Easter Week 1916 and the trial of Roger Casement.”

Her remains were sent to Ireland for burial in Glasnevin. On the occasion of her funeral, Thomas Hardy wrote the poem “How She Went to Ireland” in her honour. He also wrote the preface to the posthumous collection A Dull Day in London and Other Sketches (1920).

In Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, in March 1918, Douglas Hyde pronounced Shorter “the greatest mistress of the ballad and the greatest storyteller in verse that Ireland has produced”. In the introduction to The collected poems of Dora Sigerson Shorter (1907), George Meredith wrote that Shorter had “the gift of metrical narrative”.

She is now largely forgotten.

Books

  • Verses (1893)
  • The Fairy Changeling and Other Poems (1898)
  • The Phantom Deer and Jeanne Bras: A Ballad of Sorrow (1898)
  • Ballads and Poems (1899)
  • My Lady’s Slipper and Other Verses (1899)
  • The Father Confessor: Stories of Death and Danger (1900)
  • The Woman who Went to Hell and Other Ballads and Lyrics (1902)
  • As the Sparks Fly Upward: Poems and Ballads (1903)
  • The Country-House Party. A Series of Short Stories Connected by a Thread of Narrative (1905)
  • The Story and Song of Black Roderick. Prose and Verse (1906)
  • Through Wintry Terrors (1907)
  • The collected poems of Dora Sigerson Shorter, with an introduction by George Meredith (1907)
  • The Troubadour and Other Poems (1910)
  • New Poems (1912)
  • Madge Linsey and Other Poems (1913)
  • Do-Well and Do-Little: A Fairy Tale (1914)
  • Comfort the Women: A Prayer in Time of War (1915)
  • An Old Proverb (1916)
  • Love of Ireland: Poems and Ballads (1916)
  • The Sad Years (1918)
  • A legend of Glendalough and other ballads (1919)
  • Sixteen dead men, and other poems of Easter week (1919)
  • A Dull Day in London and Other Sketches (1920)
  • The tricolour: poems of the Irish revolution (1922)
  • In Memoriam (1923)

Short Fiction

  • A Dreamer (1900)
  • A Question of Courage (1900)
  • All Souls’ Eve (1900)
  • Priscilla (1900)
  • The Broken Heart (1900)
  • The Father Confessor (1900)
  • The Fourth Generation (1900)
  • The Jealousy of Beatrix (1900)
  • The Lion-Tamer (1900)
  • The Mother (1900)
  • The Other Woman’s Child (1900)
  • The Strange Voice (1900)
  • The Three Travellers (1900)
  • The Twin Brothers (1900)
  • The Women’s Progress Club (1900)
  • Transmigration (1900)
  • Walter Barrington (1900)
  • The Story and Song of Black Roderick (1906)

Poems

  • The Fairy Changeling (1897)
  • The Fetch: A Ballad (1898)
  • All-Souls’ Night (1947)
  • The Fair Little Maiden (1947)
  • The Fairy Thorn-Tree (1947)

Anthologies

  • Lays and Lyrics of the Pan-Celtic Society, ed. Andrew Rusell St. Ritsh (1892)
  • Dark of the Moon: Poems of Fantasy and the Macabre, ed. August Derleth (1947)
  • Voices on the wind: women poets of the Celtic twilight, ed. Éilís Ní Dhuibhne (1995)
  • Literature and culture at the Fin de Siècle, ed. Talia Schaffer (2007)
  • Decadent Verse: An Anthology of Late-Victorian Poetry, 1872-1900, ed. Caroline Blyth (2009)
  • Poetry by Women in Ireland: A Critical Anthology 1870–1970, ed. Lucy Collins (2017)
  • Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women, ed. Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers (2019)
  • Weird Women: Classic Supernatural Fiction by Ground-breaking Female Writers, 1852-1923, ed. Leslie S. Klinger and Lisa Morton (2020)

About her

  • Ireland in fiction, by Stephen Brown (1969)
  • Women of Ireland: a biographic dictionary, by Kit Ó Céirín and Cyril Ó Céirín (1996)
  • Dictionary of nineteenth-century Irish women poets, ed. Anne Ulry Colman (1996)
  • The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, ed. Charlotte Mitchell, David Trotter, and Sandra Kemp (1997)
  • The Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature, ed. Robert Welch (2000)
  • Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British women poets, ed. William B. Thesing (2001)
  • A Dictionary of Writers and their Works, ed. Michael Cox and Christopher Riches (2010)
  • The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature, n. 18, ed. Brian J. Showers (2019)
  • A History of Irish Women’s Poetry, ed. Ailbhe Darcy and David Wheatley (2021)

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