The Northern Athens or A City Of Horrors? Belfast as Presented by Some Irish Women Writers

Britta Olinder


Few cities have changed so much over the last century as Belfast. This is mainly due to industrialisation and de-industrialisation and not least to the three decades of the Troubles. For women the same period has meant the gaining of the vote, opportunities to work outside of the home and growing independence. My purpose here is to investigate the pictures of Belfast in the work of some Irish women writers and the urban spaces available to their characters, considering the segregation of the city. The idea of an urban culture is cohesion, of people living closely together and sharing the same space and culture, while Belfast in the twentieth century has been marked by class divisions, gender inequality and political disruption. I will investigate A Belfast Woman by Mary Beckett, a novel by Deirdre Madden and plays by Anne Devlin and Christina Reid for the different neighbourhoods in Belfast they present and the role there of gender and class barriers.


city; urban culture; landscape; community; the Troubles; segregation

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