An Englishwoman in Belfast: Rosamond Stephen's Record of the Great War

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Rosamond Stephen (1868-1951) was an Englishwoman who spent most of her life unsuccessfully trying to reconcile Protestants and Catholics in Ireland. The daughter of a theist judge, and niece of Sir Leslie Stephen editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, she was received into the Church of Ireland in 1896 and worked as a lay missionary in working-class Belfast. Her attempts to meet, assist and talk politics with Belfast Catholics aroused suspicion in both communities, and her ecumenical quest ended in disillusionment. This selection from her wartime letters to her sisters records her unique approach to philanthropy, her fervent support for the war effort, and her growing disgust with the British administration of Ireland. The editor's introduction reveals the frustration of a Unionist who viewed the Great War as a lost opportunity for reconciliation. Her letters apply an idiosyncratic moral perspective to Ireland's political history.