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Who was Shan Bullock?

Answered By: Susan Kirkpatrick
Last Updated: May 10, 2017     Views: 52

Bullock, Shan Fadh [formerly John William Bullock] (1865–1935), novelist, was born on 17 May 1865 at Inisherk, Co Fermanagh. He was the son of Thomas Bullock (1840–1917) and Mary Wheery and the eldest of eleven children. Bullock experienced a strict evangelical protestant upbringing. He was educated at the local Church of Ireland national school and at Farra College, Westmeath. He failed a Trinity College, Dublin, scholarship examination, and after a year caretaking on his father's farm went to London in 1883 as a civil service clerk in Somerset House. 

He married Emma Mitchell in 1889. The Bullocks had two children, Norah and Sydney. Bullock supplemented his salary with journalism; he moved in London literary circles, but he was never a full-time writer. His books were generally well reviewed but did not sell. In 1893, his first book, The Awkward Squads, was published. Most of Bullock's novels are set in the Co. Fermanagh– Co. Cavan borderland and reflect the struggles and tensions of Irish catholic and protestant small farmers and labourers. Beside Thrasna River (1895) is his best regarded early work. The story collection Irish Pastorals (1900) is notable for descriptions of field labour. Subsequent Fermanagh novels have more highly developed plots, such as Dan the Dollar (1905) and The Red Leaguers (1904). Bullock also wrote three novels set in London, notably Robert Thorne (1907). Sir Horace Plunkett, chose Bullock as the official biographer of Thomas Andrews, (Thomas Andrews, Shipbuilder, 1912).In 1916 Bullock published anonymously a short account of his son's life and enlistment, The Making of a Soldier. In 1917–18 Bullock served on the secretariat of the Irish Convention, chaired by Plunkett, which tried to produce a compromise between Unionists and moderate nationalists. He was appointed MBE for this work. Shan Bullock’s wife died in 1922. His last novel, ‘The Loughsiders’ was published in 1924, and his final book, “After sixty Years “, was published in 1931. He spent the final years of his life in Sutton, Surrey and died there on 27 February 1935.

Bullock Manuscript Collection (MS24) Listing

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