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Date published/released: 

1994

Publication Information: 

Blackstaff Press

"His novel, Clare, based on the life of the English poet John Clare was republished in May 2014 in the New Island Modern Irish Classics series, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the poet's death." —Wikipedia

"First published in 1994, Clare was regarded as a daring and intelligent novel that used multiple perspectives and first person narratives to reveal the mind of John Clare, famed 18th-century poet and naturalist. Clare descended into madness in his middle age and the novel deals with the man before and after the beginning of his illness. Hailed as ‘subtle’ and ‘delicate, sensuous and lyrical’, the novel delivers on an emotional intellectual level." —New Island

"'I never bury my face in a lilac flower without thinking of him. That smell, that heavy scent of being lost inside the summer, is his smell...I still expect, when I pass a lilac hedge, to meet him walking in the lane, to hear him singing some rude verse and laughing to himself.' John Clare - 'the finest naturalist of all Britain's major poets' - was born two hundred years ago in Helpston village, Northamptonshire. His visionary closeness to nature, the harshness of his life as an agricultural labourer, the bewildering fame that followed the publication of his poems, his epilepsy and his obsessive love for a childhood friend, Mary Joyce, proved too much for his overstrung spirit and he spent the closing decades of his life in a mental asylum. In this intensely lyrical new novel, spoken through the voices of Clare's womenfolk and of the dying Clare himself, John MacKenna brilliantly evokes the emotional life of one of England's most tragic and influential pastoral poets." —Trove, National Library of Australia