Katharine Tynan was born in Clondalkin, County Dublin into a farming family. She was one of twelve children. Her father encouraged her education and Irish nationalism and she attended St Catherine’s Convent School in Drogheda on Ireland’s east coast. Her first poem A Dream was published in 1878 and between 1880 and 1885 she contributed to various Irish magazines and journals. Her first major volume of poems Louise de la Valliere (a mistress of Louis XIV) and Other Poems was published in 1885. This was followed by several others in quick succession. She went on to become prominent in Dublin’s literary circles, numbering W B Yeats among her friends and admirers.
In 1893 she got married to the writer and barrister Henry Albert Hinkson, an Irish Protestant, and moved to London with him. The couple had five children, her two sons serving in the British army during WWI. In 1912 they moved from Kent to Claremorris in County Mayo where her husband worked as a local magistrate. In 1919 her husband died suddenly, aged 54, and she became the family’s sole provider.
Katharine Tynan was a prolific writer in a variety of genres. During her lifetime she wrote over 100 romantic novels, the best of which is The House in the Forest, twelve collections of short stories, several volumes of autobiography and more than a dozen volumes of poetry. Her works are dominated by the combined influences of Irish patriotism, religion, poverty and feminist causes, as well as one volume of war poetry, Flower of Youth: Poems in Wartime. Her novels enjoyed considerable popularity during her lifetime but it was her poetry that won her enduring acclaim as one of Ireland’s most unique voices. She died in 1931, at the age of 72, having published her final volume, Collected Poems, the previous year.