Journey Out of Print
: the life and short stories of Norah Hoult; Brittle Things, a collection of short stories

  • Claire Kennedy

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The creative component of my PhD is Brittle Things, a collection of short stories. The collection comprises thirteen stories set in the north west of Ireland, where I live. ‘Sparing the Heather’ and ‘In Silhouette’ unfold in the borderlands and explore ideas of betrayal and memory. In ‘Imbolc, ‘What the Birds Heard’, ‘Brittle Things’ and ‘Garland Sunday’ I deal with motherhood and sexuality. While the stories are not strictly interconnected, I have tried to show how we live now, and hope the collection has a ‘cumulative thematic impact’, that it is somehow more than the sum of its parts.

The critical element of my research is on Norah Hoult, a virtually forgotten Irish writer. In a career that spanned almost fifty years and yielded twenty–eight books, Hoult wrote novels, short stories and journalism. This study provides a more comprehensive biography of Hoult than has been previously attempted, giving a critical overview of her life and work. I also analyse her three collections of short stories, Poor Women! (1928), Nine Years is a Long Time (1938) and Cocktail Bar (1950), with particular reference to the position of women in the first half of the twentieth century. Both English and Irish contexts are relevant to Hoult’s writing, and my analysis considers her engagement with an England beset by two world wars, as well as with the austere, inward-looking Ireland that emerged after independence.

Thesis is embargoed until 31st July 2024.

Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorFran Brearton (Supervisor) & Garrett Carr (Supervisor)

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