Words to Shape my Name

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McKenna, Laura
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University College Cork
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Words to Shape my Name consists of a novel and a critical commentary on the creative process and context of writing it. The novel is a re-imagining of the life of Tony Small, an escaped slave who became the manservant of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. It comprises several narrative strands. The main voice is that of Tony himself; he has been coerced into writing an account of Fitzgerald. This narrative is then subject to erasures, edits and commentary by Lady Lucy Fitzgerald. The third strand is narrated by Tony’s daughter, Harriet, fifty years later, when she receives her father’s papers. The three layers provide a reflection on truth and identity and what gets recorded and left out of history. The commentary explores some of the issues that arise in fictionally recreating real past lives. The first part outlines my original research findings regarding Tony Small and his family. It also highlights previously undocumented events during Fitzgerald’s travels that had key significance for the novel. The second section examines voice in fiction and explores the ethical and aesthetic challenges in giving voice to real people, across time and race. In the final part, my creative decisions are explored in the light of this research and the critical context.
Creative thesis , Historical novel , Lord Edward Fitzgerald , Tony Small , Voice , Slavery , Rebellion , Slave narrative , Palimpsest
McKenna, L. 2019. Words to Shape my Name. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.