irish/postcolonial beckett

Part of the Palgrave Advances book series (PAD)


In 1906, Samuel Beckett was born on the outskirts of Dublin into an upper middle class Protestant family, part of the settler population of an island that was invaded by the Vikings and the Anglo-Normans and was planted by the English and Scottish in the Elizabethan and Tudor ages. Ireland, at the beginning of the twentieth century, had been annexed to Britain by the Act of Union in 1800, but, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, twenty-six of the thirty-two counties of Ireland formed the independent Free State of Ireland, the Saorstat, when Beckett was fifteen.2 The other six, which included the strongly Protestant counties of Antrim and Down, and therefore had a Protestant majority, were carved out of the formerly nine-county northern province of Ulster, renamed Northern Ireland, and remained under the political jurisdiction of Britain. While many members of the Protestant minority in the Free State retained economic privileges (though there was also a Protestant working class), they were politically marginalized in the new state which was dominated by a hegemonic, conservative nationalism allied with and legitimated by the Catholic Hierarchy. As a young adult, Beckett was ill at ease in this climate, and having experienced the cosmopolitanism of Paris through an exchange between the Ecole Normale Supérieure and Trinity College, Dublin (his Alma Mater) in 1928–30, he moved there in 1937.


Trinity College Cultural Reference Colonial History Alma Mater Postcolonial Theory 
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works cited

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2004

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