BC Burns Library stages Guiney exhibit

Louise Imogen Guiney


By Irish Echo Staff

Louise Imogen Guiney (1861-1920), an American poet and essayist with ties to 19th-century Boston literary circles, is the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Boston College John J. Burns Library, on display through May 29.

“Devoted Catholic & Determined Writer: Louise Imogen Guiney in Boston” focuses on Guiney’s relationships with Catholic religious leaders, fellow writers, and publishers in Boston, said a release from the library.

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“She wrote poetry, and later, stories and biographical essays. Her choice of subjects was informed by her Catholic beliefs, admiration for Jesuits, and sojourns in Ireland and England.”

Guiney may have faded from the canon, yet she continues to offer a unique window into the multifaceted literary establishment of late 19th-century Boston, according to exhibition curator Barbara Adams Hebard, conservator at Burns Library, who notes that Guiney is one of only two women represented in Bapst Library’s stained glass portraits of American authors.

Guiney’s father, Tipperary-born General Patrick R. Guiney, was an officer in the “Fighting Ninth” Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry regiment, an Irish heritage unit that fought in crucial Civil War battles.

Guiney fought in over thirty engagements, including the battle of Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He would rise in rank to command the regiment.

Active in law, politics, and Irish and Catholic organizations, General developed influential connections that aided his widow and only daughter following his early death from war-related injuries in 1877.

By then, said the Burns release, Boston had become a major hub for education, publishing, and the arts, and Guiney benefited from her father’s network.

“But it was her own drive to write - first, poetry, and later, short stories and biographical essays - that earned her acclaim in literary circles, if not the financial independence she sought.”