Judith Hearne

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Judith Hearne
First edition
AuthorBrian Moore
Cover artistHeather Standring
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherAndre Deutsch
Publication date
Media typePrint

Judith Hearne (later republished as The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne), was regarded by Northern Irish-Canadian writer Brian Moore as his first novel. The book was published in 1955, after Moore had left Ireland and was living in Canada. It was rejected by ten American publishers before being accepted by a British publisher.[1] Diana Athill's memoir, Stet (2000), has information about the publishing of Judith Hearne.[2]

Set in Belfast in the 1950s, Judith Hearne has been described as "a sensitive study of a middle-aged alcoholic woman in drab Belfast and her desperate last attempts at finding love and companionship".[3] Ann Leary, reviewing the book for NPR, calls it "a short book about a lifetime of longing" and says "Moore uses brilliant economy in his writing; it's as if words are as scarce and precious as sunshine in this gloomy section of postwar Belfast".[4] According to Colm Tóibín, the book "is full of Joycean moments... it takes from ‘Clay’, the most mysterious story in Dubliners, the idea of a single, middle-aged woman visiting a family and finding both comfort and humiliation there".[5] Robert Fulford, writing in Canada's The Globe and Mail, describes it as "a bleak post-Catholic novel" that depicts "a desolate life, stripped of warming humanity".[6]

Moore won the Authors' Club First Novel Award[7] and the Beta Sigma Phi award[8] for this work, although it was not his first novel.

A film based on the book, but with the story relocated to Dublin, was released in 1987 with Maggie Smith in the title role.

The book was republished by HarperCollins, under the title The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, on 16 July 2007 in the Harper Perennial Modern Classics series (ISBN 0007255616; ISBN 978-0007255610).

Critical reception[edit]

On November 5, 2019, the BBC News listed The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne on its list of the 100 most influential novels.[9]


  1. ^ Smith, Dinitia (12 January 1999). "Brian Moore, Prolific Novelist on Diverse Themes, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  2. ^ Athill, Diana (2000). Stet: a memoir. London: Granta. ISBN 1-86207-388-0.
  3. ^ Mulholland, Niall (March 1999). "Brian Moore, 1921–99: Cool prose craftsman". Socialism Today. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  4. ^ Leary, Ann (11 February 2013). "The Splendor Of Suffering In 'The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne'". NPR Books. NPR. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  5. ^ Tóibín, Colm (August 2000). "Gaelic Gloom". London Review of Books. 20 (15): 3–8.
  6. ^ Fulford, Robert (12 January 1999). "Brian Moore: A writer who never failed to surprise his readers". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Authors' Club Best First Novel Award Shortlist Announced". Authors’ Club. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  8. ^ Lonardo, Angela; Lippold, Karen; Sexty, Suzanne. "Beta Sigma Phi Award 1956–1967". Literary Awards in Canada 1923–2000. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  9. ^ "100 'most inspiring' novels revealed by BBC Arts". BBC News. 5 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019. The reveal kickstarts the BBC's year-long celebration of literature.