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Northman: John Hewitt (1907-87)An Irish writer, his world, and his times$
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W. J. McCormack

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739821

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739821.001.0001

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Belfast Beginnings, 1907–29

Belfast Beginnings, 1907–29

Chapter:
(p.15) 2 Belfast Beginnings, 1907–29
Source:
Northman: John Hewitt (1907-87)
Author(s):

W. J. McCormack

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739821.003.0002

The Hewitt family’s situation at the time of the poet’s birth, and after, is described, and Hewitt’s juvenilia examined. Through accounts of inter-family relations, a back-narrative engages with the politics of eighteenth-century republicanism and loyalism. Twentieth-century Methodism provided a middle way in which independence of mind could survive within communal demands. The poet’s education at Methodist College and the Queen’s University is traced, revealing affinities with individual teachers at secondary school, followed by looser relationships at university. Here he began to write experimental short fiction. The young man’s own religious views appear contradictory; his possible authorship of a ‘missionary play’—Africa Calling—is considered. The influence of a popular preacher, Alexander Irvine, is assessed. While Hewitt begins to write political verse, he moves towards adulthood, find employment and his future wife. Her family’s more insecure social condition is sketched.

Keywords:   family, education, juvenilia, Methodism, political verse, experimental fiction, Roberta Hewitt

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