97 books like Women and the Great Hunger

By Christine Kinealy (editor), Jason King (editor), Ciaran Reilly (editor)

Here are 97 books that Women and the Great Hunger fans have personally recommended if you like Women and the Great Hunger. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Tale of Two Cities

Carl J. Griffin Author Of The Politics of Hunger: Protest, Poverty and Policy in England, C. 1750-C. 1840

From my list on explaining the politics behind hunger.

Who am I?

I’m driven to understand the lives and mentalities of poor workers at the time of the Industrial Revolution. It’s a subject on which a great has been written but I’ve always been surprised that, in a British context, the subject of hunger has been largely ignored. The great joy of being a historical scholar is that freedom to follow your nose in the archive, to trust your instinct, and to uncover untold stories of the forgotten. Their experiences of hunger might relate to a now seemingly distant world, but such hunger histories are also amazingly prescient in our new age of food banks and famines. 

Carl's book list on explaining the politics behind hunger

Carl J. Griffin Why did Carl love this book?

"Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat." In these few short words Charles Dickens artfully summed up the experience – and landscapes – of abject urban poverty. Set in Paris and London during the period of the first French Revolution, it is perhaps more convoluted and less effective in terms of characterization than his best novels, but it pulls no punches. Although it’s a historical novel, and a romance at that, it’s as close as we can get to feeling what it must have been like to be hungry at that moment in which our modern world – and its social problems – was made.

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked A Tale of Two Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sydney Carton is a lawyer who has wasted his abilities and his life. Now he has to make a difficult choice about what is really important to him, which could be a matter of life or death. The French Revolution is running its violent course; lives are ruined as a new France is created. How did the gentle Doctor Manette and his daughter Lucie become caught up in France's struggles? What is the real identity of the handsome Charles Darnay, who wins Lucie's hand in marriage? And why does the shadow of La Bastille Prison hang over them all? The…


Book cover of Whigs and Hunters: The Origin of the Black Act

Carl J. Griffin Author Of The Politics of Hunger: Protest, Poverty and Policy in England, C. 1750-C. 1840

From my list on explaining the politics behind hunger.

Who am I?

I’m driven to understand the lives and mentalities of poor workers at the time of the Industrial Revolution. It’s a subject on which a great has been written but I’ve always been surprised that, in a British context, the subject of hunger has been largely ignored. The great joy of being a historical scholar is that freedom to follow your nose in the archive, to trust your instinct, and to uncover untold stories of the forgotten. Their experiences of hunger might relate to a now seemingly distant world, but such hunger histories are also amazingly prescient in our new age of food banks and famines. 

Carl's book list on explaining the politics behind hunger

Carl J. Griffin Why did Carl love this book?

I adore this book. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class might be better known, but his book that I return to time and time again, his most brilliant, most detailed, most political, is Whigs and Hunters. More than any other book, this gets absolutely to the heart of how power was practiced in early eighteenth century. Against the protests of poor forest dwellers, the British state in one swoop made more acts punishable by death than the rest of the statute combined. If you want to understand how and why inequality persists, and how foodstuffs became a battleground between the rich and poor, this is essential.

By E.P. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whigs and Hunters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With Whigs and Hunters, the author of The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson plunged into the murky waters of the early eighteenth century to chart the violently conflicting currents that boiled beneath the apparent calm of the time. The subject is the Black Act, a law of unprecedented savagery passed by Parliament in 1723 to deal with 'wicked and evil-disposed men going armed in disguise'. These men were pillaging the royal forest of deer, conducting a running battle against the forest officers with blackmail, threats and violence. These 'Blacks', however, were men of some substance; their…


Book cover of Annals of the Labouring Poor: Social Change and Agrarian England, 1660–1900

Carl J. Griffin Author Of The Politics of Hunger: Protest, Poverty and Policy in England, C. 1750-C. 1840

From my list on explaining the politics behind hunger.

Who am I?

I’m driven to understand the lives and mentalities of poor workers at the time of the Industrial Revolution. It’s a subject on which a great has been written but I’ve always been surprised that, in a British context, the subject of hunger has been largely ignored. The great joy of being a historical scholar is that freedom to follow your nose in the archive, to trust your instinct, and to uncover untold stories of the forgotten. Their experiences of hunger might relate to a now seemingly distant world, but such hunger histories are also amazingly prescient in our new age of food banks and famines. 

Carl's book list on explaining the politics behind hunger

Carl J. Griffin Why did Carl love this book?

Masterful. Keith Snell is arguably the finest ever historian of the modern British countryside and this, his first book, has done more than any other to stimulate research. What’s the link to hunger? Annals examines the uneven contours of poverty and its relief, detailing the experience of poverty as well as its causes and conditions. It might be almost 40 years old, but it remains without unparallel in bringing together an understanding of law, social policy, and the cultures of everyday life. Without it my book couldn’t have been written.     

By K. D. M. Snell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Annals of the Labouring Poor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of inter-connected essays is concerned with the impact of social and economic change upon the rural labouring poor and artisans in England, and combines a sensitive understanding of their social priorities with innovative quantitative analysis. It is based on an impressive range of sources, and its particular significance arises from the pioneering use made of a largely neglected archival source - settlement records - to address questions of central importance in English social and economic history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Levels of employment, wage rates, poor relief, the sexual division of labour, the social consequences of…


Book cover of Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation

Carl J. Griffin Author Of The Politics of Hunger: Protest, Poverty and Policy in England, C. 1750-C. 1840

From my list on explaining the politics behind hunger.

Who am I?

I’m driven to understand the lives and mentalities of poor workers at the time of the Industrial Revolution. It’s a subject on which a great has been written but I’ve always been surprised that, in a British context, the subject of hunger has been largely ignored. The great joy of being a historical scholar is that freedom to follow your nose in the archive, to trust your instinct, and to uncover untold stories of the forgotten. Their experiences of hunger might relate to a now seemingly distant world, but such hunger histories are also amazingly prescient in our new age of food banks and famines. 

Carl's book list on explaining the politics behind hunger

Carl J. Griffin Why did Carl love this book?

The hard fact of the matter is that in the modern world no one needs be hungry, let alone die from starvation. But the idea that famine is not a result of ‘total food-availability decline’ but instead was a function of ‘entitlements’ is Sen’s – and is one of the most profound and important theories of the past hundred years. The theory is a complex one but can be boiled down to the idea that hunger – and then famine – are the product of political choices in the distribution of goods. It is impossible, meaningless even, to write of hunger without first thinking of Sen’s extraordinary book.  

By Amartya Sen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Poverty and Famines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The main focus of this book is on the causation of starvation in general and of famines in particular. The author develops the alternative method of analysis-the 'entitlement approach'-concentrating on ownership and exchange, not on food supply. The book also provides a general analysis of the characterization and measurement of poverty. Various approaches used in economics, sociology, and political theory are critically examined. The predominance of distributional
issues, including distribution between different occupation groups, links up the problem of conceptualizing poverty with that of analyzing starvation.


Book cover of Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850

Frank Parker Author Of A Purgatory of Misery: How Victorian Liberals Turned a Crisis into a Disaster

From my list on helping you understand the Irish potato famine.

Who am I?

A friend with Parkinson's Disease requested my help in his attempts to understand the famine and its impact on his ancestors in County Clare. Once I began reading the material he brought me I was impelled to discover more. I had already researched and written about an earlier period in Irish history - the Anglo-Norman invasion - and it seemed that everything that happened on both sides of the Irish Sea in the centuries that followed was instrumental in making the famine such a disaster. Our book is the result.

Frank's book list on helping you understand the Irish potato famine

Frank Parker Why did Frank love this book?

This is the book to read if you are young or seeking something for a young reader.

The suffering and endurance of ordinary men women and children during those terrible years is described with empathy and admiration. It is also, as the book description states, "the story of the heroes among the Irish people and how they held on to hope."

By Susan Campbell Bartoletti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Potatoes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

2002 Sibert Medal Winner

In 1845, a disaster struck Ireland. Overnight, a mysterious blight attacked the potato crops, turning the potatoes black and destroying the only real food of nearly six million people.

Over the next five years, the blight attacked again and again. These years are known today as the Great Irish Famine, a time when one million people died from starvation and disease and two million more fled their homeland.
Black Potatoes is the compelling story of men, women, and children who defied landlords and searched empty fields for scraps of harvested vegetables and edible weeds to eat,…


Book cover of Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas

Shawna Barnett Author Of Windfall

From my list on adventure with women at sea.

Who am I?

From the beginning of my reading journey, I wished for more stories about women who were courageous, passionate, and in control of their own destiny. I wanted to write books for female readers who loved characters like Zorro, Robin Hood, and Jack Sparrow, but wanted to see themselves shining through them. In the process of researching, I discovered unforgettable characters like Captain Mabbot and Clare Sullivan. The Legends of Vioria series focuses on such women, who use their wit and strength to navigate the world. It is my hope to continue to write stories that will inspire others just as the books in this list inspired me. 

Shawna's book list on adventure with women at sea

Shawna Barnett Why did Shawna love this book?

This fictionalized account of the infamous Grace O’Malley’s life heavily impacted the creation of the main character of Windfall, Captain Liana Foley. I loved how Llywelyn wrote Grace/Grania as a leader, thief, lover, and mother, giving depth to the legendary pirate. She portrays her as equally powerful as she is human.

By Morgan Llywelyn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grania as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Grania is the basis of the new Broadway muscial The Pirate Queen.

Here is an extraordinary novel about real-life Irish chieftain Grace O Malley. From Morgan Llywelyn, bestselling author of Lion of Ireland and the Irish Century novels, comes the story of a magnificent, sixteenth-century heroine whose spirit and passion are the spirit and passion of Ireland itself.

Grania (Gaelic for Grace) is no ordinary female. And she lives in extraordinary times. For even as Grania rises as her clan's unofficial head and breadwinner and learns to love a man, she enters a lifelong struggle against the English forces of…


Book cover of Atlas of the Great Irish Famine

Frank Parker Author Of A Purgatory of Misery: How Victorian Liberals Turned a Crisis into a Disaster

From my list on helping you understand the Irish potato famine.

Who am I?

A friend with Parkinson's Disease requested my help in his attempts to understand the famine and its impact on his ancestors in County Clare. Once I began reading the material he brought me I was impelled to discover more. I had already researched and written about an earlier period in Irish history - the Anglo-Norman invasion - and it seemed that everything that happened on both sides of the Irish Sea in the centuries that followed was instrumental in making the famine such a disaster. Our book is the result.

Frank's book list on helping you understand the Irish potato famine

Frank Parker Why did Frank love this book?

This product of intensive research by members of the Department of Geography at Cork University covers every aspect of the famine as experienced by the people who lived and died through it.

Lavishly illustrated with maps and facsimiles of actual documents it details everything from the design and administration of workhouses to the treatment of migrants upon arrival in Canada, the USA, and Australia. No other book provides such an eloquent and devastating narrative of the suffering experienced by Irish people during the period 1845-52.

Devoid of rhetoric, it displays the facts in easy-to-understand text and statistical analysis, enhanced with first-hand eye-witness accounts from letters and journal extracts.

By John Crowley (editor), William J. Smyth (editor), Mike Murphy (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Atlas of the Great Irish Famine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Best Reference Books of 2012 presented by Library Journal

The Great Irish Famine is the most pivotal event in modern Irish history, with implications that cannot be underestimated. Over a million people perished between 1845-1852, and well over a million others fled to other locales within Europe and America. By 1850, the Irish made up a quarter of the population in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The 2000 US census had 41 million people claim Irish ancestry, or one in five white Americans. Atlas of the Great Irish Famine (1845-52) considers how such a near total decimation of…


Book cover of Confessions of a Pagan Nun: A Novel

Sheila R. Lamb Author Of Fiery Arrow

From my list on pagans, saints, and love.

Who am I?

I just looked this up. The word is Hibernophile. I love all things Irish even though I'm American, and distantly, Irish American. My inspiration for the Brigid of Ireland trilogy met at the intersection of genealogy research and discovering druids. The novel Druids by Morgan Llywelyn which I read soon after The Mists of Avalon impacted so much of my future writing I love research, too. Finding my family roots—immigrants to the New York marble quarries during the Famine—was the impetus for tying these two things together. This—researching Catholicism in Ireland—led me to Patrick and Brigid. I live, teach, and write in the mountains of Virginia.

Sheila's book list on pagans, saints, and love

Sheila R. Lamb Why did Sheila love this book?

Kate Horsely’s writing is exquisite. Every word, every detail is carefully chosen and her language has a beauty all its own. The novel is about an Irish nun, Gwynneve, who was raised pagan. She sought refuge in Saint Brigit’s and is welcomed because of her literacy. She is to transcribe the words of St. Augustine and St. Patrick. She observes the crossroads of paganism and Christianity and witnesses the positive and negative of both sides. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but Gwynneve becomes caught up in the conflict as she records her diary of observations and pays the price for honesty. Again, I’m fascinated by the two belief systems, pagan and Christian, side by side, and searched for how that transition occurred.

By Kate Horsley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confessions of a Pagan Nun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A druid-turned-nun writes of faith, love, loss, and religion in this “beautifully written and thought-provoking book” set at the dawn of Ireland’s Christian era (Library Journal)

Cloistered in a stone cell at the monastery of Saint Brigit, a sixth-century Irish nun secretly records the memories of her Pagan youth, interrupting her assigned task of transcribing Augustine and Patrick. She revisits her past, piece by piece—her fiercely independent mother, whose skill with healing plants and inner strength she inherited; her druid teacher, the brusque and magnetic Giannon, who introduced her to the mysteries of the written language.
 
But disturbing events at…


Book cover of Someone Like You

Helen McKenna Author Of The Beach House

From my list on an ensemble cast of characters.

Who am I?

As a lifelong bookworm, I have always loved curling up with a book, especially one that takes me on an emotional journey through the characters within. I especially love stories with an ensemble cast of characters linked through one common thread and always knew my first novel would be of this format. A fascination with the stories that lie beneath the surface of everyday life keeps me constantly inspired to create new characters that can bring comfort and familiarity to readers but still explore important life lessons in a gentle way.

Helen's book list on an ensemble cast of characters

Helen McKenna Why did Helen love this book?

I love the way this book captures holiday friendships. It taught me that holidaying alone does not have to be a negative experience and, indeed, can make you much more open to forming connections with people you may otherwise not interact with. Someone Like You is not all sunshine and roses but left me feeling content and with a real connection to the three-dimensional characters within.

By Cathy Kelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Someone Like You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cathy Kelly has enjoyed unprecedented success in the UK and her native Ireland. Building on the popularity of her "Dear Cathy" advice column, Kelly brings to her fiction a warmth and humor that speaks to women everywhere.

Hannah, Emma, and Leonie, three women at critical turning points in their lives, meet on holiday and find themselves changing in unexpected ways. Hannah, young, beautiful and reeling from the betrayal of a lover, decides to throw herself into her career and embrace the single life. Emma, married for two years and hoping to start a family, constantly questions her ability to be…


Book cover of The Celestial Realm

Niamh Campbell Author Of We Were Young

From my list on capturing the haunted geography of Dublin.

Who am I?

I’m an Irish writer drawn to the ways in which the biggest questions – of human nature, existence, late capitalist realism, politics, ethics, and consciousness – play out via the minutiae of specific locations; in this case, the city of Dublin, where I’ve spent most of my adult life. I don’t think of cities as monuments but living and complex microcosms of concerns and urgencies the whole world shares.

Niamh's book list on capturing the haunted geography of Dublin

Niamh Campbell Why did Niamh love this book?

A non-fiction recommendation this time, and a recent release.

Hennigan’s essay collection is a beautifully written account of the final years, and opaque recollections, of her grandmother Phil, who spent much of her life in various psychiatric institutions.

I have been interested in this theme for years – Ireland, in the first decades after independence from Britain, has some of the highest rates of citizen incarceration in the world: prisons, borstals, orphanages, magdalen laundries, and psychiatric hospitals both provided employment and regulation and also kept a whole population of ‘problem’ people out of sight).

This fact, and its repercussions in culture today, fascinate me, and Hennigan’s gentle and loving consideration of Phil’s trauma, loneliness, mania, and the maternal lineage it involves (her own mother was institutionalized) is also an angry illustration of just how badly women and the working class have been treated here.

By Molly Hennigan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Celestial Realm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Phil doesn't like physical affection. She doesn't love you because you don't exist. She doesn't care if you have something important coming up. A busy week, a daunting appointment, a divorce, because she believes the world is going to end in the morning. Every morning."

Having grown up visiting her grandmother in various psychiatric hospitals, Molly Hennigan began writing about the gaps in and intimacies of her relationship with this matriarch. Tracing the organic path of her grandmother's experience to her great-grandmother's time in Irish mental hospitals, she explores her own family trauma and what it means to be an…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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