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Maureen O. Murphy launches Compassionate Stranger: Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine

February 19, 2015 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Join Professor Mauren O’Rourke Murphy for the launch of her new book, Compassionate Stranger (Syracuse University Press, 2014), the first biography of Asenath Nicholson, an extraordinary woman who committed herself “to personally investigate the condition of the Irish poor” on the eve of the Great Irish Famine.

Raised in Vermont and trained as a schoolteacher in New York, Nicholson was involved in the abolitionist, temperance and diet reforms of the time before leaving for Ireland in 1844. Walking through nearly every county in Ireland, Nicholson documented and published her observations on rural life before returning to Ireland in 1846 in order to contribute to relief efforts during the Great Irish Famine.

Murphy offers insight into Nicholson’s life, while also putting Nicholson’s own writings in conversation with other historical documents on the Irish poor from the time. Roger Rosenblatt, essayist for Time magazine and PBS NewsHour writes:

“It takes one extraordinary mind to know another and Maureen Murphy’s story of Asenath Nicholson proves it. Had Murphy not unearthed and revealed the tale of Nicholson’s tireless courage and intelligent kindness toward the Irish during the Great Famine, we would not know of a remarkable woman or of a time, place and people indispensable to history. Meticulously researched, beautifully written, Compassionate Stranger is a gift to scholarship, literature, Ireland, and to readers everywhere who seek to understand both the hardship and nobility of the poor.”

Introduction by Prof. Marion R. Casey, Clinical Assistant Professor at Glucksman Ireland House NYU.


February 19, 2015
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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Glucksman Ireland House, NYU
1 Washington Mews
New York, NY 10003 United States
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212 998 3950