On Easter Sunday, 23 April 1916, the members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood’s military council put their names to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, declaring that they were the provisional government of an Ireland free from British rule. In effect, each man had knowingly signed his own death warrant. Since then, the Seven have been eulogized and used as political weapons by many, but today there is an increasing recognition within Ireland that it’s time for an honest re-discussion of the Easter Rising.
One hundred years on, award-winning author Ruth Dudley Edwards explores how the lives of Ireland’s founding fathers converged and how they came to espouse violence and asks if they had a coherent vision for their country or if they were, as some now allege, little more than a collection of fanatical misfits and failures. A brilliant, thought-provoking re-assessment, The Seven provides a scrupulous examination of each of these men, challenging us to judge their actions and to find an answer to the question of what their legacy should be.
The Seven - The Lives and Legacies of the Founding Fathers of the Irish Republic will be published by Oneworld on 22nd March 2016. Hardback, £18.99/$24.
‘Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven offers astute pen portraits of the leaders of the 1916 Rebellion. Her analysis of how these complex men, idealistic but also uncompromising, led a rebellion is a superb introduction to this period of momentous change in Irish history.’ Colm Tóibín
‘A provocative, personal, fascinating, and utterly readable contribution to a hugely important debate.’ Richard English, author of Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA
‘A fine, well-researched and beautifully-written ground-breaking book by a leader in her field.’ Andrew Roberts F.R.S.A., bestselling author of Napoleon the Great
‘No one has done more to reinvigorate debate about the 1916 Rising than Ruth Dudley Edwards.’ Lord Bew, Irish History and Politics, Queen’s University, Belfast
‘...a probing and detached appraisal of the seven revolutionaries who placed Ireland on a fateful course in 1916. It seeks to explore and explain rather than condemn or disparage. Connolly, Pearse, Clarke and the others obtain more sympathetic treatment from Ruth Dudley Edwards than many of their hagiographers are likely to provide.’ Tom Gallagher – Emeritus Professor in Peace Studies, University of Bradford, author and commentator
‘The folly, the courage and the tragedy of the Easter Rebellion have never before been presented with such clarity and brilliance. At times, it reads like the work of fiction that it is not, as Ruth Dudley Edwards, with a novelist’s unerring narrative skill, interweaves the lives of the seven signatories of the Proclamation from their disparate beginnings to their common end. To have brought such dazzling freshness to a very familiar story is an extraordinary achievement. Nothing less than a masterpiece.’ Kevin Myers, Sunday Times columnist and author of Watching the Door
‘Ruth Dudley Edwards brings a unique perspective to bear on the leaders of the Easter Rising: empathetic, interrogative, and highly conscious of the questions raised and left unanswered by their sacrificial gesture of rebellion. With this book she completes the analysis begun with her path-breaking study of Patrick Pearse nearly forty years ago, providing a group biography of the disparate revolutionary leaders and a clear-eyed consideration of the legacy they left. It should be required reading.’ R. F. Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History, University of Oxford
‘The leaders of the 1916 Rising are generally regarded by Irish nationalists as heroes and they are honoured as the founding fathers of the Irish Republic. A minority take the view that the Rising was unnecessary and undemocratic. In a timely re-assessment, the respected historian Ruth Dudley Edwards looks at the legacy of seven leaders of the Rising, including the legacy of violence which has blighted Ireland in the century since. Her book deserves a wide readership both by traditional nationalists and by those who believe it is time to reassess the legacy of the Rising.’ Seán Donlon, former head of the Irish Diplomatic Service