Wolfe Tone

BookWolfe Tone

Wolfe Tone

Second edition


August 6th, 2012



Other Formats



Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763-1798) was the founder of Irish Republican nationalism. As such his political ideas and the circumstances of his life and early death have become powerful political weapons in the hands of later nationalists. Today his name still arouses strong passions and he is hailed as the first prophet of an independent Ireland. Published originally in 1989, Marianne Elliott’s book was the first major biography of Tone, using a wealth of new material to examine his personal life and public actions. Tracing him from his upbringing as a member of the Protestant elite, through his involvement in Irish radical politics, his exile in America, his secret negotiations with the French and return to Ireland with a French invasion force, to his trial for treason and his suicide while awaiting execution, it was a monumental publication that won numerous awards and gained much praise. This second edition brings this award-winning book up to date with new scholarship, new historical insights and fresh insights by Professor Marianne Elliott herself, making a crucial publication for all scholars and readers of Irish history.

Fluently written, skillfully constructed and rigorously scholarly. It draws on an impressive array of sources from archives in Ireland, England, France, and the U. S. A., and, as political biography, it successfully maintains the delicate balance between public and private, between 'life' and 'time'. . . . Dr. Elliott also unearths new information and brings fresh perspectives to bear. . . . Careful research and meticulous detail are the rule. It is a measure of Dr. Elliott's thoroughness, indeed, that alternative readings of Tone's career can be made from the material which she presents.
Jim Smyth, Irish Economic and Social History

A major academic achievement.

Maurice R. O'Connell, Catholic Historical Review

Catholic Historical Review

Sheds much new light both on Tone and his times; and . . . it prompts new and more informed discussion of that key decade in the modern history of Ireland, the 1790s.

Tom Bartlett, Linen Hall Review

Linen Hall Review

There have been many accounts of these events, but none so well documented as that given by Marianne Elliott. Partners in Revolution is a veritable tour de force.

John W. Boyle, Albion


A splendid scholarly portrait of the man behind the myth, the only one ever likely to be needed. . . . A fine complement to Tone's delightful autobiography.

Robert Kee, The Independent on Sunday

The Independent on Sunday

[A] detailed and compelling biography of Ireland's major revolutionary figure of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. . . . The figure which emerges from these pages is far more complicated and humane than the icon which myth has long projected. He appears more vulnerable, less powerful and, for all this, more heroic. . . . The most important, and even compelling aspect of this work is the liberation of Tone and his thought from the polemical trap in which he has long been ensnared."

Kevin O'Neill, Social History

Social History

[A] beautifully written biography . . . its major fresh contribution to historical understanding is perhaps in the picture it gives of Tone in his pre-French, pre-Revolutionary days. She treads adroitly through what is still a politically loaded subject, using a very solid basis of research to dispose of myths in the subsequent cult of Tone. . . . Her able deployment of the wealth of material that has come to light since Frank MacDermot wrote in 1939, makes this undoubtedly the best biography of Tone available and easily the best written."
Michael Duffy, French History

Admirably written, and well illustrated.

Brian Fallon, The Irish Times

The Irish Times

... Elliott is to be commended for this remarkable portrait.

Irish Literary Supplement, Fall


About The Author

Professor Marianne Elliott, the Director of the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies, is internationally recognised as one of Ireland's leading historians and is best known for her acclaimed biography 'Wolfe Tone: Prophet of Irish Independence' (Yale), which won numerous awards and for 'The Catholics of Ulster: A History' (Penguin).