Text Size

Short Stories

Contemporary

'Spelled Backward' in Red, ed. Cathy Galvin (London: Waterstones, 2012). An American couple in Rome are pulled in different directions by his zeal for marathon-running and her fascination with the paintings of Caravaggio.

'Urban Myths' in Silver Threads of Hope, ed. Sinéad Gleeson (Dublin: New Island, 2012). Based on my short radio play of the same name, this story in emails follows an Irish divorcée (on the verge of a nervous breakdown) back to college.

‘Visiting Hours’ in The News from Dublin: New Irish Short Stories, ed. Joseph O’Connor (London: Faber, 2011).  A comic story (in the voice of a midwife) about two forms of fatherhood, with a nod to the Gospel of Luke.

‘Dear Lang’ in How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity, ed. Michael Cart (New York : HarperTeen, 2009).  A non-birth mother’s wry and painful letter to the daughter she lost in infancy in a break-up with the bio-mom.

‘Here and Now’ in No Margins: Writing Canadian Fiction in Lesbian, ed. Nairne Holtz and Catherine Lake (Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2006).  This story of a weekend in small-town Ontario is excerpted from my novel Landing.

‘The Dormition of the Virgin’, in Touchy Subjects (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2006). This comic tale of an earnest English student’s frantic tour of Florentine Renaissance churches is about life vrs art.

‘Baggage’, in Touchy Subjects (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2006), follows a Limerick woman to LA for one long hot weekend in search of her missing brother.

‘WritOr’, in Touchy Subjects (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2006). Prompted by some of my less happy experiences of teaching creative writing, this is about an existential crisis in the life of a Writer in Residence.

‘Lavender’s Blue’, in Touchy Subjects (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2006). Another autobiographical story, this one is about a couple with the painful dilemma of choosing a paint colour.

‘Through the Night’, in Touchy Subjects (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2006). Sparked off by my experience of having our first baby, ‘Through the Night’ satirizes both sides of the mother/grandmother generation gap.

‘The Man Who Wrote on Beaches’, in Touchy Subjects (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2006). A study of a Born Again  man who decides that Jesus wants him to marry his forty-two-year-old girlfriend and have children.

‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’, in Touchy Subjects (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2006).  This story about the family of nature and the nature of family is adapted from a short radio play, part of my Humans and Other Animals series (2003), produced by Tanya Nash for BBC Radio 4.

‘Good Deed’, in Rush Hour: A Journal of Contemporary Voices, Volume One, ed. by Michael Cart (New York: Delacorte Press, 2004); collected in Touchy Subjects. A Good Samaritan in present-day Toronto tries to save the life of a street person.

‘The Sanctuary of Hands’, in Telling Moments: Autobiographical Lesbian Short Stories, ed. by Lynda Hall (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2003); collected in Touchy Subjects. An Irishwoman has an embarrassing encounter in a prehistoric French cave.

‘Necessary Noise’, in Necessary Noise, ed. by Michael Cart (New York: Joanna Cottler Books, 2003); collected in Touchy Subjects. The Bible story of Martha, Mary and Lazarus transposed to modern New York.

‘Pluck’, in The Dublin Review (Autumn 2002); collected in Touchy Subjects. Focusing an Irishman’s panic over a hair on his girlfriend’s chin, this is the story on which I based my short film of the same name (2001).

'Team Men', in One Hot Second: Stories of Desire, ed. by Cathy Young (New York: Knopf, 2002); collected in Touchy Subjects.  My first (and probably only!) sports story, set on a boys’ soccer team, is based on the Bible characters of Saul, David and Jonathan, and was written with quantities of help from Sinéad McBrearty.

'Enchantment,' in Magic, edited by Sarah Brown and Gil McNeil (London: Bloomsbury, 2002); collected in Touchy Subjects.  Inspired by a holiday in Louisiana, this is about a battle between two swamp tour guides.

'The Welcome', in Love and Sex, ed. by Michael Cart (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001); collected in Touchy Subjects. Drawing on my fond memories of six years in a Cambridge housing cooperative, this is a love story with a twist.

'Thicker Than Water', in Thicker Than Water: Coming-of-Age Stories by Irish and Irish-American Writers, ed. by Gordon Snell (New York: Delacorte Press, 2001; London: Orion, 2002.) The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, transfered to a Belfast wedding.

'Oops', in Sunday Express (UK), 2000; a longer version collected in Touchy Subjects. A terse comedy about a Dublin bachelor who thinks he’s made his friend pregnant by fiddling with her electronic contraceptive device.

'The Cost of Things' in The Diva Book of Short Stories (London: Diva Books, 2000); collected in Touchy Subjects. A highly autobiographical story about a couple, their cat and a vet’s bill.

'Speaking in Tongues', in The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica, ed. by Rose Collis (London: Constable & Robinson and New York: Carroll & Graf, 2000); collected in Touchy Subjects. Set at a Galway conference on bilingualism, this is about a May-December one-night-stand, but it’s more edgy romance than erotica.

‘Error Messages', broadcast on RTE Radio (Ireland), 1999.  A story in five emails about a family facing the Millennium.

‘Touchy Subjects’ in Ladies’ Night at Finbar’s Hotel, a novel-in-stories, co-written by Emma Donoghue and six other Irish writers, edited by Dermot Bolger (London: Macmillan, and Dublin; New Island, and San Diego and New York: Harcourt, 1999); collected in Touchy Subject.  My contribution to the second of the bestselling Finbar’s Hotel books is about a man attempting to donate sperm to his wife’s best friend.

'Expecting', broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 1996; also published online in Book Data, November 1997; first print publication You Magazine / Mail on Sunday, 8 October 2000; collected in Touchy Subjects.  My first story to be broadcast on radio, about a woman who gets entangled in a lie to do with being pregnant.

'Seven Pictures Not Taken', in Cimarron Review, 116 (July 1996); reprinted in The Anchor Book of New Irish Writing, ed. by John Somer and John J. Daly (New York: Anchor Books, 2000).  A prickly romance between two middleaged woman, one Irish, one American.

'Going Back', in Ireland in Exile, ed. by Dermot Bolger (Dublin: New Island, 1993); reprinted in Alternative Loves: Irish Gay and Lesbian Stories, ed. by David Marcus (Dublin: Martello, 1994), Countering the Myths: Lesbians Write about the Men in Their Lives, ed. by Rosamund Elwin (Toronto: Women's Press, 1996), and The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction, ed. by Colm Toibin (London: Penguin, 1999).  One of Donoghue’s first (and most) published short stories, this account of a fag-dyke friendship was written on the cusp of enormous social change in Ireland.  

 

Historical

‘Onward,’ in Astray (London: Picador, Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, and New York: Little Brown, 2012).  Suggested by several letters of Charles Dickens about a family he helped to emigrate to Canada. Read at

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/09/onward/309065/

‘The Long Way Home’, in Astray (London: Picador, Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, and New York: Little Brown, 2012).  Based on an anecdote about a hard-drinking, cross-dressing eccentric in 1870s Arizona.

‘The Gift’, in Astray (London: Picador, Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, and New York: Little Brown, 2012).  Suggested by notes about letters to a New York adoption agency from the birth mother and adoptive father of a little girl.

‘Last Supper at Brown’s’, in Astray (London: Picador, Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, and New York: Little Brown, 2012).  Based on an incident in which a slave and his mistress conspired to murder his master in Texas in 1864. Read it at:
http://www.welovethisbook.com/features/last-supper-browns-short-story-emma-donoghue

 

‘The Widow’s Cruse’, in One Story (August 2012); collected in Astray.  Inspired by a paragraph about a suddenly widowed woman, from a newspaper in 1730s New York. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 25 November 2012.

‘The Trap’ in Three and a Half Deaths (UK ebook, Picador, 2011) is about the notorious abortionist Madame Restell’s legal battle with chief censor Anthony Comstock in the 1870s.

‘The Body Swap’, in Princeton University Library Chronicle (Special Issue on Irish Prose), May 2011; collected in Astray.  A noir piece about the gang of forgers who tried to hold Lincoln’s corpse to ransom in 1876.

‘Fall’, read on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, February 2011, published in Stylist (August 2011): http://www.stylist.co.uk/life/books/fall-by-emma-donoghue; collected in Three and a Half Deaths.  A brief piece about Annie Taylor, the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, in 1901. 

‘The Hunt’, in New Statesman (3 January 2011),

http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2011/01/8220-boy-story-jersey-girl; collected in Astray.  Short-listed for the 2012 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank 
Short Story Prize.  New Jersey, 1776: A teenage soldier unwillingly participates in attacks on local women.

‘Tableau Vivant’ in TOK: Writing the New Toronto: Book 5, ed. by Helen Walsh, Toronto, Zephyr Press, 2010). A piece about Clara Ford, a ‘mulatto seamstress’ acquitted of the murder of a white boy in Toronto in 1895.

‘Man and Boy’ in Granta 104: Fathers (December 2008), ed. by Alex Clark; collected in Astray. Matthew Scott speaks to his lifelong companion, Jumbo the Elephant. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 18 November 2012.

 ‘Snowblind’, in The Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories, ed. by David Marcus (London: Faber, 2007); collected in Astray. A fictional tale of two young men who become goldmining ‘partners’ in the 1890s Klondike. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 2 December 2012.

‘What the Driver Saw’ is a fresh take on Isadora Duncan’s much-mythologised death by scarf in Nice in 1927.  Published online as part of a research project on the theme of the royal entrance by GRES (Groupe de Recherche Sur les Entrées Solennelles), http://gres.concordia.ca/ecrire/index.shtml; collected in Three and a Half Deaths.

‘Vanitas’ in Like a Charm: A Novel in Voices (London: Century and New York: William Morrow, 2004); collected in Astray. In my contribution to this bestselling crime collection, a girl in 1830s Louisiana probes her cousin’s mysterious death.

'Acts of Union' in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002). In Mayo in the early 1800s, an army officer is tricked into a fraudulent marriage.

'Account' in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002).  A story in a list format, about a king's mistress who died mysteriously in 1490s Scotland.

‘Ballad’ in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002).  Inspired by the old folk song of Bessy Bell and Mary Gray, this is about war, plague and a love triangle in Methven, Scotland in 1645.

'Come, Gentle Night' in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002). A painful comedy about the wedding night of John Ruskin and Effie Gray in Scotland in 1848.

'Cured' in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002).  Based on the case notes of the controversial surgeon Isaac Baker Brown in 1860s London.

'Dido' in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002). In Hampstead in the 1770s, a mixed-race girl, raised by her great-uncle, discovers what life is like outside the garden wall.

'The Last Rabbit' in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002). The story of Mary Toft, who in the 1720s managed to trick all of England by claiming to have given birth to eighteen rabbits.

'The Necessity of Burning' in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002). A female brewer gets caught up in the Peasants Revolt in Cambridge in the 1380s.

'Revelations' in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002).  Narrated by a maverick Presbyterian minister, this is the story of a Scottish cult's attempt to fast for forty days in Dumfriesshire in 1786.

‘Salvage’ in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002).  Set on the storm-swept Norfolk Coast in 1823, when a crippled lady scholar of Anglo-Saxon intervened to save drowning sailors.

'Sissy', in Globe and Mail (Canada), 5 May 2001; reprinted in Irish Writers of Today, ed. by Dermot Bolger and Ciaran Carty (Dublin: New Island, 2012); collected in Three and a Half Deaths.  This story was commissioned in response to a controversy over the unearthing of a pioneer child’s coffin during the building of a hockey arena in London, Ontario.

'What Remains', in Queens Quarterly (Canada), Spring 2001; reprinted in The Journey Prize Anthology (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2002); collected in Astray. A biographical story about the last years of the sculptor couple, Frances Loring and Florence Wyle.  Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 9 December 2012.

‘The Lost Seed’, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, May 2000; published in Groundswell: The Diva Book of Short Stories 2 (London: Diva Books, 2002); collected in Astray. A tragedy based on court records of sex crimes in seventeenth-century Massachusetts.

'Night Vision' broadcast on BBC Radio 4, May 2000; published in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (London: Virago and New York: Harcourt, 2002). Set in Donegal in 1824, this is about a blind girl who fought for the right to educate herself.

'Figures of Speech', broadcast on BBC Radio 4, May 2000; published in The Lady (21-27 August 2001); collected in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. In Genoa in 1632, an Irish countess, facing childbirth, looks back at her turbulent past.

'A Short Story,' broadcast on BBC Radio 4, May 2000; published in a limited-edition calendar from Language (Dublin, 2001); collected in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. About the brief life of Caroline Crachami, the world's shortest girl - a popular freak-show attraction until her death in London in 1823.

'The Fox on the Line', in Circa 2000: Lesbian Fiction at the Millennium, ed. by Terry Wolverton and Robert Drake (LA: Alyson, 2000); collected in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. Set in London in the 1870s, this story about the moment when two women tried to get vivisection banned.

'How a Lady Dies', in Hers 3: Brilliant New Fiction by Lesbian Writers, ed. by Terry Wolverton with Robert Drake (New York: Faber and Faber, 1999); collected in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. The story of a consumptive gentlewoman with a death-wish in 1759 Bath.

'Looking for Petronilla', in The Vintage Book of International Lesbian Fiction, ed. by Naomi Holoch and Joan Nestle (New York: Vintage, 1999); also in The Stinging Fly (Dublin), Issue 11, Winter 2001/2002; collected in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits.  A contemporary woman goes to Kilkenny in search of traces of Petronilla de Meath, the fourteenth-century maid of Ireland's most famous witch.

'Daddy's Girl', in Neon Lit: Time Out Book of New Writing, ed. by Nicholas Royle (London: Quartet, 1998); broadcast on BBC Radio 4, May 2000; collected in Astray.  Based on the 1901 death of Murray Hall, a New York politico who turned out to be a woman.

'Counting the Days', in Phoenix Irish Short Stories 1998, ed. by David Marcus (London: Phoenix House, 1998); broadcast on CBC Radio (Canada), May 2001; collected in Astray.  Based on the 1840s correspondence of two emigrants from Northern Ireland to Canada.

'Words for Things', in The Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories, ed. by Margaret Reynolds (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1993); reprinted in The Oxford Book of Historical Stories, ed. by Michael Cox and Jack Adrian (London: Oxford University Press, 1994); collected in The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. In Cork in 1786, a teenage girl forms a complex bond with her governess, one Mistress Mary Wollstonecraft. 

 

Fairy Tales

‘The Tale of the Shoe’, in Kissing the Witch (London: Virago, and New York: Joanna Cotler Books, 1997).  Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Cinderella.

‘The Tale of the Bird’, in Kissing the Witch. Based on Hans Andersen’s Thumbelina.

‘The Tale of the Rose’, in Kissing the Witch.  Based on Madame le Prince de Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast.

‘The Tale of the Apple’ in Kissing the Witch. Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Snow White.

‘The Tale of the Handkerchief’, in Kissing the Witch.  Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of the Goose Girl.

‘The Tale of the Hair’, in Kissing the Witch.  Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Rapunzel.

‘The Tale of the Brother’, in Kissing the Witch.  Based on Hans Andersen’s Snow Queen.

‘The Tale of the Spinster’, in Kissing the Witch.  Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Rumpelstilskin and similar stories of magical helpers.

‘The Tale of the Cottage’, in Kissing the Witch.  Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Hansel and Gretel.

‘The Tale of the Skin’, in Kissing the Witch.  Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Donkeyskin.

‘The Tale of the Needle’, in Kissing the Witch.  Based on Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty.

‘The Tale of the Voice’, in Kissing the Witch.  Based on Hans Andersen’s Little Mermaid.

‘The Tale of the Kiss’, in Kissing the Witch.  Not based on any source text, but suggested by various folk motifs about oracles and magic helpers, discussed in Marina Warner’s From the Beast to the Blonde.

 

 Bibliography

For essays/theses that touch on a story from one of my collections, see the Bibliography section in the page for that collection.

On uncollected stories:

On 'Going Back' (1993):

Tony Murray, London Irish Fictions: Narrative, Diaspora and Identity (2012), pp.138-42

Kristina Banister Quynn, ‘Gendered Moves: Mobile Subject in Atlantic Rim Literature and Film’ (PhD thesis, 2009).