Pauline Hall was born in Dublin, Ireland. Having spent time in France, Italy, Spain and the United States, she returned to live and work in Ireland. She now writes full-time, both fiction and poetry, and her deep understanding of human change is reflected in her work. Her collection Bruised into Fragrance was specially commended in the 2017 Patrick Kavanagh Award competition.
She has published editorials, fiction, prose, poetry and commentary in The Irish Times, The Dubliner, The Dublin Review of Books, Cyphers, Stony Thursday, The Mews, Encounters and the bilingual English/Spanish online journal Estudios Irlandeses.
Her publications include the novel Eoin Doherty and The Fixers (2016), a guidebook Rathmines and the Rising: People and Places (2016), a series of articles on fictional treatment of the Easter Rising for the Dublin Review of Books (2015-16), The Cream of the Milk (2013), illustrated clerihews – short comic verses – on famous and infamous Irish women, the Network Directory of Women in Management (Editor; 1989), Agents of Change: The Manager’s Guide to Planning and Leading Change Projects (co-written with Hilary Maher; Oaktree Press 1998) and several educational packages on managing change projects.
Her first novel, Grounds, inspired by her time in France, was published by Brandon Books in 1983. It’s set in the same village as Edouard Louis’ recent bestseller The End of Eddy. Pauline published an article about this coincidence in the Dublin Review of Books in 2017.
You can read more about Pauline at www.paulinehallwriter.com; watch her reading from Cream of the Milk here; or enjoy “The Mother’s Son”, one of a series of nine vignettes Pauline wrote about life in Seville in the late 1960s, below:
The Mother’s Son
In Sevilla, lots of men were described as daddy’s boys, hijos de papa, especially members of the big professions, or heirs to noble names. In the world we found ourselves in, most carried that entitlement as easily as their cottons and cashmeres. But one of Frank’s colleagues though undoubtedly a hijo, had no papa to lean on. He was a hijo de mama, but she was poor. After the papa had decamped, she struggled to help her lonely brainy son into a world of which she knew nothing, except that it was the world that mattered. She cut and blow-dried the hair of her equally poor neighbours in their front rooms, and picked up hours in a tobacconist’s shop. Manolo taught himself English by listening to Bob Dylan songs on tapes he made himself, so his English- the most fluent in the architect’s office- was more mid Atlantic than Oxford. The sixties were nearly over, and Spain had yet to know them, but Manolo wore his hair unusually long, and gave us the low down by the words he taught us: enchufe meant being well-connected, literally plugged in. He used the word often because it would never apply to him. Another time, he asked us who was the reguladora in our apartment block. “Yes, of course there’s always one, to watch the comings and goings, and inform the authorities.” In return, there would be a clerk’s job for a husband or son. Manolo peeled back the façade of daily life for us, because there was more at stake for him.
One day he arrived with a gift for our patio: a tiny orange tree in a pot, already bearing two of the bitter Seville fruits that end up as marmalade. As we chatted, he saw us put our seven month old to bed in a round playpen ringed with white mesh. We hadn’t dared to put him into a bed at his age, not with a marble floor underneath, and cots were, inexplicably, unavailable. On his next visit, Manolo reported his mother’s reaction to this arrangement: she deeply disapproved. It seemed that Stephen and his playpen loomed large in their conversations. His mother often warned him (who was never to be a husband or a father) that a child subject to such a regime would hardly turn out well, or even normal. On our second trip to Sevilla, twenty –five years later, most of the men had long hair, girls rode scooters and everyone listened to pop music. We showed photos as proof that despite his nights in the playpen Stephen had turned out fine. Manolo was still greedy for half-forgotten facts about his mother. He smiled at her dogmatism, but also defended it.