This paper examines the cultural afterlife of the Colleen Bawn murder of 1819. Drawing on Gerald Griffin’s novel The Collegians (1829), Boucicault’s sensation drama The Colleen Bawn (1860), as well as the lesser-known The Colleen Bawn: The True History of Ellen Hanley by Richard Fitzgerald (1868), the essay traces the alterations these writers make to the original source narrative, and seeks to unpack the underlying dynamics driving these “editorial changes.” What is revealed is the manner in which this true-life event has been culturally “re-edited” as writers have sought out its imaginative contours as a way of exploring and reframing the relationship between Irish identity and the performance of juridical power. Drawing a distinction between the Law (the synchronic marker of extra-social justice) and the law (the diachronic marker of real-world legal process), the essay examines how each of these writers strategically inhabits the space between Law and law as a way of re-articulating the proper location of juridical power in nineteenth-century Ireland.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 98-114
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.