Mary Dorcey

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Mary Dorcey
County Dublin
OccupationWriter, Poet

Mary Dorcey (born 1950) is an Irish author, a ground-breaking, critically acclaimed poet, novelist, short story writer.[1][2]

Life and education[edit]

Dorcey was born in County Dublin, Ireland. She is a member by peer election of Aosdána the Irish Academy of Arts and Letters. She was educated in Ireland and at the Open University and in France at Paris Diderot University. She is a Research Associate at Trinity College, Dublin[1] where for ten years she was a writer in residence at the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies, during which time she conducted seminars on contemporary English literature and led a creative writing workshop. She has also taught in the School for Justice at University College Dublin[1][3][4]

She has published six collections of poetry, one novel, one collection of short stories and one novella.[3]

Dorcey was the first woman in Irish history (1974 to the present) to advocate for LGBTI rights, in person and print, throughout Ireland and internationally. She was a founder member of Irish Women United, Women for Radical Change and The Movement for Sexual Liberation.[1][5]

She has lived and worked in the United States, England, France, Spain and Japan.[6]


Dorcey won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for Literature in 1990 for her short story collection A Noise from the Woodshed.[1][3][4] Her novel Biography of Desire has been both a best seller and achieved critical acclaim. It was described in the Irish Times review as 'the first truly erotic Irish novel.'[3]

Her poetry and fiction is taught internationally at universities throughout Europe,the United States and Canada. It has attracted a wealth of international research over the past 30 years and has been the subject of countless academic essays and critiques. It is reproduced in more than one hundred anthologies representing Irish, Gay and Women's literature.[3][7]

Her poems are taught on both the Irish Junior Certificate English curriculum and on the British O Level English curriculum. 'First Love' has been selected once more for the revised Junior Cycle and was also included in the BBC Anthology 'A Hundred Favourite Poems of Childhood.' They have been performed on radio and television (RTÉ, BBC, and Channel 4.) and her stories have been dramatized for radio (BBC) and for stage productions in Ireland, Britain and Australia: 'In the Pink' (The Raving Beauties) and, 'Sunny Side Plucked.'[1][3][4]

She has won five major awards for literature from the Arts Council of Ireland: 1990, 1995, 1999 and 2005 and 2008.[3]


Much of her work explores issues of sexuality, identity and the multifaceted lives of women through their role as mothers, daughters, and lovers. Her themes include the cathartic role of the outsider, political injustice and the nature of the erotic power to subvert and transfigure. She has won popular and international critical acclaim for her portrayal of romantic and erotic relationships between women and her subversive and tender view of the mother/daughter dynamic.[1][5]

  • Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women: Global Women's Issues .One of the first was Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (1981).Well-known authors, including Mary Dorcey, Maeve Binchy, Zoé Fairbanks, ... Finally, the self is transformed and begins to love and value from a center ...Cheris Kramarae, Dale Spender - 2004 - Reference..,



  • Kindling (London, Onlywomen Press, 1989)
  • Moving into The Space Cleared by our Mothers (Salmon Poetry, 1991)
  • The River That Carries Me (Salmon Poetry 1995)
  • Like Joy in Season, Like Sorrow. ('Salmon Poetry, 2001)
  • Perhaps the heart is Constant After All. (Salmon Poetry, 2012)
  • To Air the Soul,Throw All the Windows Wide. (Salmon Poetry 2016) New and Selected Poetry.

Books, essays and short stories[edit]

  • A Noise from the Woodshed: Short Stories (London, Onlywomen Press, 1989)
  • Scarlet O'Hara (in the anthology In and Out of Time) (London. Onlywomen Press, 1990)
  • Biography of Desire (Dublin, Poolbeg 1997)
  • A Glorious Day (The Faber Book Of Best New Irish Short Stories 2006–2007 By David Marcus)
  • The Lift Home(Virgins and Hyacinths, Ed. Caroline Walsh.1993.)
  • The Orphan;' (In Sunshine or in Shadow) Ed. Mary Maher. 1999.

Staged dramatisations[edit]

  • In the Pink (The Raving Beauties)
  • Sunny Side Plucked(Dublin, Project Arts Centre)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gonzalez, Alexander G. (2006). Irish women writers: an A-to-Z guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 102. ISBN 0-313-32883-8.
  2. ^ "Oxford Reference biography".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Aosdana Biography". Aosdana. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Irish writers online". Irish writers online. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b Heather Ingman (2007). Twentieth-century Fiction by Irish Women: Nation and Gender. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
  6. ^ Murphy, Lizz (1996). Wee girls:Women writing from an Irish perspective. Spinifex Press. p. 11.
  7. ^ Stephanie Norgate (2013). Poetry and Voice: A Book of Essays. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 275.

Further reading[edit]

  • Naomi HolochKnopf (2010). The Vintage Book of International Lesbian Fiction. Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 368.

Bisexuality, Queer Theory, and Mary Dorcey's Biography of Desire May 31, 2001 - Bisexuality, Queer Theory and Mary Dorcey's Biography of Desire: An .... categorically that the first person I loved was of the male sex" (153). Bisexuality, Queer Theory, and Mary Dorcey's Biography of Desire

  • Twentieth Century Literature by Irish Women: Nation and Gender

Heather Ingman - 2007 - Literary Criticism (Dorcey, 1989, 158- 9) The semiotic world 'beyond the grasp of speech' ... Kate observes to herself that: Mary Dorcey continues her exploration of the life of...

  • 'The following article aims to examine Mary Dorcey's poem “Come Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear,” included in the 1991 volume 'Moving into the Space Cleared by Our Mothers.'

Katarzyna Poloczek, University of Łódź: 'Women's Power To Be Loud.' 1