Archive for June 8th, 2011

Stalking People in the Past

8 June 2011

Contributed by Marnie Hay

I used to feel like a stalker. I suspect that anyone who has researched and written a biography or a study of someone’s career feels the same way. You doggedly unearth and scrutinise various sources to uncover the most intimate and mundane details of your subject’s life. It becomes an obsession.

My quarry was Bulmer Hobson (1883-1969). He was that rare combination of a Belfast Protestant (a Quaker no less) and an ardent Irish nationalist who played a leading role in the advanced nationalist movement until 1916 when he was sidelined as a result of his opposition to the Easter Rising. In researching my PhD thesis on his nationalist career, I reconstructed Hobson’s life in the early twentieth century through a combination of letters, newspaper articles, and police reports. I realised that I was turning into a stalker when I created a database to track his nationalist activities. I was able to chart everything from public speaking engagements to yuletide visits to his parents’ home. Read more