Eva Selina Gore-Booth was born in Lissadell, County Sligo, Ireland, the daughter of Sir Henry Gore-Booth, an explorer and one-time High Sheriff of Sligo. She was educated at home by governesses, learning foreign languages and, encouraged by her maternal grandmother, developing a love of poetry. Her mother charitably established a school of needlework for women in Lissadell, enabling them to earn a modest living.
In 1894 Eva travelled around North America and the West Indies with her father, keeping diaries of the places they visited. The following year she travelled to the Continent with her mother, sister Constance, and a family friend. After falling ill in Italy she met Esther Roper, an English woman who would become her lifelong companion.
In 1897 she and Esther moved to Manchester, where they became involved in the women’s suffrage movement and helped to found the Women Textile Workers Union. Two of her poems, Women’s Trades on the Embankment and A Lost Opportunity express her disappointment at the failure of the campaign for women to get the vote. Prior to the outbreak of WWI she signed The Open Christmas Letter to Women of Germany and Austria and became a member of the Women’s Peace Crusade.
Her last years were spent in Hampstead, saddened by the outcome of the Easter Rebellion in Ireland, in which her sister Constance, by then Countess Markiewicz, was involved, sentenced to death and subsequently reprieved. Eva died of cancer in 1926 at her home in Hampstead, which she shared with Esther Roper. Her name and picture are commemorated on the plinth of the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, London.
In addition to her nine books of poetry, Eva Gore-Booth wrote several plays, spiritual essays, and numerous pamphlets dealing with the practical issues of the day, in particular women’s suffrage and the futility of war. Her poetry was strongly influenced by her Irish roots and contains a strong vein of mysticism, sympathy for the underdog and her feelings of frustration at the world’s injustices.