Saturday, 16 June 2012
Kathleen Coyle was born in Derry on 23 October 1886 to John and Catherine Coyle. Her family was moderately well-of, but her father was an incurable alcoholic and all attempts to set him up in business came to nothing. He was admitted to a home for the infirm and died there in his 40s.
Kathleen suffered a severe injury to a foot while in the care of a nursemaid who at first was too frightened to report the accident to the child's parents which resulted in her having a limp for the remainder of her life. Unable to attend school she was educated at home and, cut off from the company of other children, she became a voracious reader. In about 1906 her mother moved the family to Liverpool where Kathleen worked for a time in a public library. From Liverpool she moved to London and eventually to Dublin where in 1915 she married Charles O'Meagher. They had two children, Michele and Kestrel, but separated after four years of marriage. At this time she was active in the labour and suffragist movements. She later moved to the France where she came to know James Joyce and his wife Norah.
In 1937 Coyle and her children moved to New Hampshire. She had already begun to write, her first novel being Piccadilly published in 1923. For a time she enjoyed a relatively good income from the sale of short stories to women's magazines and she lived among other writers in Greenwich Village, New York. Later she moved to Princeton where she died on 25 March 1952 at the age of sixty-six.
Kathleen Coyle was the occupant of the flat at 7 rue Antoine-Chantin when Jan Gabrial viewed the flat when she was looking for somewhere in Paris for her and Lowry to live; "Kathleen Coyle, the Irish writer, tiny, fragile, slender as grass, with huge gray eyes and a voice that drifted away like smoke.".(Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg. 38)
Jan and Kathleen Coyle became friendly enough for Coyle to give Jan proofs of some of her short stories to read. When Jan returned the proofs she gave Coyle a copy of Ultramarine which Coyle promised to show to a French publisher. (Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg. 39). Later, Nouvelle Revue Francoise showed an interest in publishing Ultramarine, even suggesting likely translators. (Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg. 50).