(Irish, 1930– )
Johnston was born into the Anglo-Irish Protestant ascendancy in Dublin and the place of the Anglo-Irish in Irish society is a major theme of her work. Johnston often describes a relationship between an adult and an adolescent emerging into adulthood; a relationship which often ends in betrayal. In Shadows on our Skin, shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1977 and set in Derry, the contact is between Joe Logan, a budding poet, and the teacher who encourages him, Kathleen Doherty. In The Old Jest (1979) the theme of safety versus change is embodied in Nancy Gulliver, an orphan living a cushioned life in a ‘big house’ beside the sea. Nancy discovers a republican revolutionary living in a hut on the beach. However, Nancy's longing for adventure inevitably leads to disaster.
Elizabeth Bowen, Molly Keane, Edna O'Brien. See IRELAND IP