Frank Parker's author site

Slavery, Starvation and Bankruptcy

Potatoes afflicted by blight. Image from Gardeners World

We have now reached part 2 of A Purgatory of Misery which is a brief account of the events of the famine years. The first of four chapters deals with the initial outbreak of potato blight in the autumn and winter of 1845/6. To most of those involved the situation was still only a crisis but in retrospect and to some of the more perceptive observers at the time the seeds of a disaster where already in place.

To read chapter 9, click here. If you wish to start at the beginning go to the introduction.


Diet and Idiocy

Portrait by Eugène Trutat of a man affected with cretinism. Image from wikipedia

The final chapter in the context setting part of A Purgatory of Misery identifies a possible cause for the observed lassitude of many Irish peasants in the nineteenth century. Once again, this chapter appeared earlier as a post a few months ago. The role of diet in mental development is a relatively new area of study that offers clues as to the impact of repeated famines or near famines on the intelligence of those who experience them.

In post-war Britain expectant mothers and infants were provided with formula milk, cod liver oil and orange juice in order to minimise the impact of food shortages on them. Today’s infant’s, throughout most of the developed world, are, instead, plied with sugary drinks of doubtful nutritional value which could be as damaging to their mental development as if they were half starved.

New readers may wish to  start at the beginning of the book here. To go straight to chapter 8 click here.

Poverty Midst Plenty

George Nicholls. Painting by Ramsay Richard Reinagle. Nicholls devised and introduced the Poor Law for Ireland.

Chapter 7 of A Purgatory of Misery explains the attempts of British administrators to deal with poverty and the particular arrangements they developed for Ireland in the nineteenth century. If it appears familiar that is because an earlier version appeared as a post here about six months ago. One of the things that I find striking about it is that the attitudes of governments of all political persuasions have not altered significantly in the intervening 180 years. The poor are still regarded with suspicion and made to justify their claims for assistance via a miscellany of bureaucratic tests. To read chapter 7 click here. If you are new to the book please start with the introduction.

Check this out. Holy Crap!

Did I happen to mention that I’ve the honour of being included in an anthology due out on Kindle 1st October and available now in paperback? Well it seems someone with a long pedigree in horror/paranormal/sci-fi wants a review copy. I’m not getting too excited until I see what she has to say about it.


Source: Check this out. Holy Crap!

The Impact of Imperialism

union-flagToday’s installment of A Purgatory of Misery describes how Victorian Britons had good cause to believe themselves to be superior to everyone else and how this effected their relationship with Ireland.
If you have not yet begun reading you should start with the introduction which you will find here. To go straight to the latest chapter click here.

Prompted by the recent 70th anniversary of Indian independence and partition, this recent article from The Guardian and reprinted in The Irish Times offers further insights into the subject of British imperialism.

Vibrant and Populous Cities

Chapter 5 of A Purgatory of Misery describes the growth and development of Ireland’s principal centres of population, revealing a further contrast between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’  in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Irish society.

Whilst the cities were home to the merchant classes, profiting from the trade in food produced in the countryside, those who did the work of producing that food led a hand-to-mouth existence. Those of them who migrated from the countryside to the city in hope of sharing some of the city’s wealth mostly ended up in slum dwellings on the fringes of the city. Not unlike the situation in many developing countries today!

If you are visiting for the first time and want to read from the beginning, start here with the introduction. To continue to Chapter 5 click here.

Dublin slum – this is from 1880, three decades after the famine. Poverty was, however, still widespread despite the reduction in the island’s population. Image from Irish Historian Selection, August 2013.

Stark Social Divisions

Today’s installment of A Purgatory of Misery looks at the economic realities of life in nineteenth century Ireland.

If you are new to the book it’s probably best if you start at the introduction here. To go straight to chapter 4 click here.

Towards the end of this chapter there is a reference to the real events that form the basis for my story in Dan Alatorre’s collection of scary stories. The e-book goes on sale 1st October but can be pre-ordered now by clicking this  link.

All pre-orders get a bonus story not available after Oct.1.


Carraghmore House – typical Irish home of the landed classes. Image: Irish Times


Cottier cabin. Image from collection of Maggie Land Blank

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