To commemorate the centanery of the 1916 Easter Rising, we’ve selected some of the New Statesman’s writing on the events of 1916 for you to read as an ebook.
At the time of the rebellion, the New Statesman had been running for three years under the editorship of Clifford Sharp. The magazine was founded by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and supported by George Bernard Shaw – whose piece on the “neglected morals” of the Rising is included here – and other prominent Fabians. Its strident 1914 anti-war supplement caused an international sensation.
When it came to the Irish insurgency, however, the Statesman took a more tentative line. The leader which followed the rebellion, for instance, was careful to give a nuanced take on the weekend’s events, positioning the rebels’ actions in a wider political context while remaining cynical as to both their motivations and (limited) achievements. Even after the leaders of the rebellion began to be executed, the New Statesman still maintained a sceptical and plural approach, publishing a piece which argued both non-violent and paramilitary agents for Irish nationalism had acted “according to their lights”.
With its long commitment to covering literary and cultural events with the same seriousness as politics, the archives of the New Statesman also provide insight into the complicated relationship between the two spheres in early twentieth-century Ireland. The pieces contained in this anthology include not only opinions on the Rising itself, but wider thoughts on the literature of the revolutionaries and the Irish press.