Author John Kelly will present a lecture entitled, “How the Irish Famine Invented the Modern World” on Friday, February 15 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lewis Center for the Arts’ James M. Stewart ’32 Theater, 185 Nassau Street. The lecture is part of a series presented by Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies. The event is free and open to the public.
Kelly is the author of ten books that meld history, science and human behavior. His most recent book, The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People (Henry Holt in U.S., Faber and Faber in U.K., 2012), chronicles the events and circumstances surrounding the Great Irish Potato Famine, one of the epic tragedies of modern times. The book was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and selected as a Cultural Highlight of 2012 by The Irish Times. In a review, The Economist called the book, “An engrossing narrative of the famine, vividly detailing Victorian society and the historical phenomena (natural and man-made) that converged to form the disaster.”
Kelly’s lecture will explore the ways in which the Great Famine of the 1840s was a definitive force in the shaping of the modern world and what that historical event can tell us about starvation and food distribution today. He examines the direct effects of this tragedy not only in Ireland and Britain but also around the whole of mid-19th-century Europe.
Kelly’s previous book, The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time (2005), was a national bestseller. He is currently working on, The Year of No Summer: The British Decision Not to Surrender in 1940, for Scribner.
The Fund for Irish Studies, chaired by Princeton professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, affords all Princeton students, and the community at large, a wider and deeper sense of the languages, literatures, drama, visual arts, history, politics and economics not only of Ireland but of “Ireland in the world.” Its mission is to coordinate and expand existing courses taught by present members of the faculty and to offer a series of public lectures, literary readings, conferences, exhibitions, screenings and theatrical performances.