IN PRAISE OF DIFFICULT WOMEN
Violet Gibson, an Irishwoman who attempted to shoot Italy’s fascist leader Mussolini, is one among a host of fascinating characters in Evelyn Conlon’s new short story collection, Moving About The Place.
In 1926, the 50-year-old woman, fired on ‘Il Duce’ as he walked among the crowd in a piazza in Rome. He moved his head, and her bullet skimmed his nose, causing a slight injury.
When she tried to shoot again, the revolver misfired, Evelyn tells Martina Devlin in the latest episode of the City of Books podcast, supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature.
The crowd attacked the would-be assassin, the police intervened, and she was imprisoned.
Later, Dublin-born Violet was committed to an asylum, and never released – a thirty-year sentence, because she didn’t die until 1956. It was the same institution in Northampton, England where Lucia Joyce spent more than thirty years.
Violet was the daughter of Lord Ashbourne, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and had been presented as a debutante to Queen Victoria.
“Difficult women were locked up for all sorts of reasons,” says Evelyn during the interview. “Difficult being a rather interesting word. What’s one person’s difficulty is another person’s thing to be absolutely adored or lauded.”
Recently, Dublin City Council approved the placement of a plaque outside Violet’s childhood home in Merrion Square, noting she was a “committed anti-fascist”.
Evelyn also talks about visiting Death Row in the United States for her novel dealing with capital punishment, Skin of Dreams.
“What I felt on that one day will never leave me. I think it was pretty traumatic,” she recalls. “There’s a savagery in standing in a place where the state believes it can kill somebody.”
More here on Moving About The Place by Evelyn Conlon, published by Blackstaff: https://blackstaffpress.com/moving-about-the-place-9781780733104