Letters from Ireland during the famine of 1847
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Alexander Somerville’s unique account of the Irish Famine was first published in 1852. however, as it was contained within a much longer three-volume work on free trade, titled The Whistler at the Plough, it has remained unknown to most historian. This newly-set edition of Somerville’s letters contains a detailed introduction by Dr Keith Snell. Somervelle prose is compulsive reading, and probably ranks alongside |William Cobbett in its portrayal of rural conditions. Its strengths lie primarily in tis descriptions of rural hardship, its efforts to understand why Ireland was suffering, its personal account of the famine, its remarkable use of verbatim evidence, and his considerable empathy with the Irish and English poor. Such passages of rural literature, and the obvious sympathy with which Somerville writes makes the book a unique record of the conditions suffered by the Irish poor in the 1840. It is extraordinary that this account has remained unknown for so long.