Born in Dublin in 1917 to politically active parents, Maeve Brennan's childhood in Ireland was moulded by the cultural ideologies of nationalism and lit by the creative energy of the Abbey and Gate theatres. She was seventeen when her father was appointed to the Irish Legation in Washington DC, where he was Irish Minister throughout World War II. Maeve worked writing fashion copy at Harper's Bazaar until 1949, when William Shawn invited her to join the "New Yorker". Tiny, impeccably groomed, and devastatingly witty, in William Maxwell's words, 'to be around her was to see style being invented'. She wrote important fiction, criticism and Talk of the Town pieces for the "New Yorker" magazine throughout its most influential period in the 1950s and '60s, focusing on memory, migration and identity; her material, and women's lives.As this richly researched and wide-ranging book makes clear, Maeve Brennan's effect on the people who met her, her eye for human behaviour, clothing and domestic settings, her unsparing reading of literature, her memory of home and her courageous life as a woman alone in metropolitan America make her an icon of the twentieth century.
Angela Bourke is the author of The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story (winner of several awards, including the Irish Times Literature Prize for Irish Non-Fiction), and By Salt Water (stories). Born in Dublin, where she still lives, she has spent long periods in the USA, and held visiting academic positions at Harvard University, Boston College and the University of Minnesota. A leading scholar in interdisciplinary Irish Studies, Angela Bourke writes in Irish and English, and makes frequent appearances on tv and radio. She is Senior Lecturer in Irish at University College Dublin, The National University of Ireland, Dublin.