Eilís Dillon Margery Fisher - Essay

Margery Fisher

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

John Henebry, born in County Cork, at work at fourteen, inspired a revolutionary ballad when as a young stationmaster he showed the submissive villagers how to stand up to the local landowner…. Bold John's character is one of the pillars on which this interesting novel [Bold John Henebry] rests. Another is the sequence of the generations. Through John's family … the author shows that John, lavishing on them the material advantages he never had, made them soft and self-seeking instead of ambitious like himself. The constant changes in the family pattern are delineated with great skill. Because Eilis Dillon knows her characters so well we can see this really as a family, with all that this implies of continuity and tension. Above all (as in her stories for children) she sets action and character firmly in their habitat—in this case the bars and ballrooms of Dublin, Paris in the '20's, and, by contrast, the Gorestown cottage where Daniel's old grandmother ekes out her days. This is a vivid novel expressing honestly and strongly much that is important about the Irish, and about people everywhere, their ways with each other.

Margery Fisher, "Recent Novels: 'Bold John Henebry'," in her Growing Point, Vol. 4, No. 3, September, 1965, p. 569.