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Elizabeth Shaw: An unknown Irish writer behind an East German children's classic?

Pictured: Dr Sabine Egger

Der kleine Angsthase (The Timid Rabbit) was one of the most popular children’s books in communist East Germany, still read by many children. It is the work of an Irish author and illustrator who spent most of her adult life in East Berlin, where she became a well-known artist. At the same time, hardly anybody in Ireland seems to have heard about Elizabeth Shaw, until now.

This raises many questions. What made her work such a success in East Germany, and how to explain her ongoing popularity in today‘s German book market? How were and are her work, private and political life connected? How has this influenced her perception in Ireland and abroad? What role does her Irish background play in all of this? And, last but not least, what answers can be found in Shaw’s autobiography Irish Berlin, published in 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and in her recently uncovered Stasi secret police file?

Drawing on her research, and on previously unpublished archive material found by her research partner, Dr Fergal Lenehan of the University of Jena, Dr Sabine Egger’s talk will open new insights into the fascinating life and work of a woman the Irish historian Damian Mac Con Uladh called the "GDR’s most prominent resident from Northern Ireland" – and into the new interest in her by Irish and British mainstream media.

The 45-minute talk will be followed by a Q&A session with the public. This event is free and open to all. Click here to register your place.

Talk: Thursday 23 February from 6pm until 6.45pm

Q&A session: from 6.45pm to 7pm

German refreshments; tea/coffee & biscuits: from 7 to 8pm

Location: Room T118, MIC Limerick campus.

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