She was a poetess : the world of Mary Ann Allingham 1820-1836.

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The Gunnerus Library in Trondheim, Norway, holds a collection of papers which include nine booklets of poetry, stories, travel-writing and songs, written by Mary Ann Allingham (1803-1856), from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland. Mary Ann Allingham was the aunt of acclaimed Irish poet, William Allingham (1826-1889). Her collected poems and stories are the subject of this dissertation. Mary Ann Allingham's texts articulate the early adult life of an unmarried Protestant woman from a rural Ulster town. She is representative of several minorities at once. As a Donegal poetess of the early nineteenth century; she has few, if any contemporaries. She is neither part of the landowning wealthy of Ulster, nor its peasantry. At times, fervently Unionist, but often passionate about the Gaelic traditions of the area, she is an intriguing product of the milieu of nineteenth-century Ulster. This dissertation investigates Mary Ann Allingham's texts with three objectives in mind. Firstly, to contextualize the texts with an exploration of the relevant political and literary history from the time of the Ulster Plantation to the 1830s. Secondly, to consider the literary influences and cultural negotiations that were a necessary part of her self-definition as a woman writer. Thirdly, to critique the travel narratives and poetry of Mary Ann Allingham, and evaluate her importance as a nineteenth-century poetess.