Norah Hoult

Eleanor Norah Hoult (10 September 1898 – 6 April 1984) was an Irish writer of novels and short stories.

Hoult was born in Dublin.[1] Her mother, Margaret O'Shaughnessy, was a Catholic who eloped at the age of 21 with a Protestant English architect named Powis Hoult.[1] Both Hoult's parents died while she was still a child, and she and her brother were sent to live with their father's relations in England, where they were educated in various boarding schools.[1][2][3]

Her first book, Poor Women!, appeared in 1928.[3] This collection of five short stories received critical praise, and has been reprinted several times, both individually and in selected editions.[4] It was followed by a novel, Time Gentlemen! Time! (1930), which deals with a woman's unhappy marriage to an alcoholic.[citation needed]

Hoult married the writer Oliver Stonor, and lived with him at The Cottage in Windsor Great Park for a year; the marriage was dissolved in 1934.[1] She returned to Ireland to collect material for her writing in 1931, and remained there until 1937, when she moved to New York for two years.[1] Her next two books, Holy Ireland (1935) and its sequel Coming from the Fair (1937), show Irish family life before World War I.[5]

In 1939 she settled in London, in Bayswater, not far from Violet Hunt upon whom Claire Temple in There Were No Windows (1944) is modelled.[3] In 1957 she returned to live in Ireland.[1]

In 1977 she published her last book.[3] She died at Jonquil Cottage, Greystones, County Wicklow, on April 6, 1984.[3]

Hoult was a friend of the Scottish writer Fred Urquhart and some of their correspondence is preserved in his archive.[6]

Critics have described Hoult's work as "overlooked" and "neglected"; Nicola Beauman is quoted as saying Hoult "is a very good example of a woman writer who falls completely out of fashion and is forgotten. She was an absolutely brilliant writer and well-known at the time in a way she isn’t now”.[1][2][4]


  • Poor Women! (short stories, 1928)
  • Time Gentlemen! Time! (1930) [published in the U.S. as Closing Time]
  • Violet Ryder (from Poor Women!, 1930)
  • Apartments to Let (1931)
  • Youth Can't Be Served (1933)
  • Holy Ireland (1935)
  • Coming from the Fair (1937)
  • Nine Years is a Long Time (short stories, 1938)
  • Smilin' on the Vine (1939)
  • Four Women Grow Up (1940)
  • Augusta Steps Out (1942)
  • Scene for Death (1943)
  • There Were No Windows (1944) (Republished in 2005 by Persephone Books)
  • House Under Mars (1946)
  • Farewell Happy Fields (1948)
  • Cocktail Bar (short stories, 1950)
  • Frozen Ground (autobiography, 1952)
  • Sister Mavis (1953)
  • A Death Occurred (1954)
  • Journey Into Print (1954)
  • Father Hone and the Television Set (1956)
  • Father and Daughter (1957)
  • Husband and Wife (1959)
  • The Last Days of Miss Jenkinson (1962)
  • A Poet's Pilgrimage (1966)
  • Only Fools and Horses Work (1969)
  • Not For Our Sins Alone (1972)
  • Two Girls in the Big Smoke (1977)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gleeson, Sinéad (24 March 2018). "Why has Norah Hoult been overlooked?". Irish Times. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b Gleeson, Sinéad (10 September 2015). "A long gaze back at Norah Hoult on her 117th birthday". Irish Times. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Norah Hoult". Persephone Books. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b Costello-Sullivan, Kathleen P (2016). "Norah Hoult's 'Poor Women!'". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  5. ^ Reynolds, Horace (16 February 1936). "A Good Novel of Dublin Life; Norah Hoult's "Holy Ireland" Is a Notable Advance Over the Books That Followed Her First Novel, "Poor Women"". New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  6. ^ "Fred Urquhart: An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center". University of Texas. Retrieved 27 September 2017.

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