This unit is designed to form both a pre and post visit activity for students visiting Fota. The teacher support materials provide all the information teachers need  to introduce students to the Anglo-Irish novel and the way in which authors used their own ‘cultural context’ as inspiration for writing works of fiction.

As a pre-visit activity we introduce the subject of cultural context for the following works:

  • Moore, George Augustus, A Drama in Muslin: a realistic novel (London, 1886)
  • Herring, Geilles and Ross, Martin, An Irish Cousin (London, 1889)
  • Bowen, Elizabeth, The Last September (London, 1929)

We provide here a brief biography of the authors, along with an insight into the writing of the novel, including the experiences that encouraged/inspired the authors to write. We also provide a synopsis of the plot and a discussion of the style of the work (social realism, gothic, semi-autobiographical etc.). We then go on to look at how the cultural context is central to the works.  Especially important are:

  • Social customs, particular traditions or rituals
  • National or class differences
  • The role of women and men
  • Religious beliefs and practices
  • Power structures and political issues

Each of these criteria are not applied to every text, but certainly ritual, national and class differences and power structures and political issues emerge as important in all three novels.