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The Boldness of Betty

The Boldness of Betty

A 1913 Dublin Lockout Novel

Written by Anna Carey, Cover illustration by Lauren O'Neill

It’s summer 1913 and Betty Rafferty has had to leave school aged 14. She is lucky to gets a job in a sweet shop, but is bored and looks with envy at her customers who attend the nearby posh girls school. But life in Dublin becomes anything but boring when industrial unrest brings the city to a halt.

IBA2020 Shortlist

Children's Book of the Year (Senior) - 2020

Irish Book Awards - Short-listed

Children's Book of the Year - 2021

KPMG Children's Books Ireland Awards - Short-listed

Paperback: €9.99
Paperback: 416 pages
Size:196x130 mm
ISBN: 9781788491235

E-Book (ePub): €5.99
Also available as an E-Book (ePub)
ISBN: 9781788492416

Dublin 1913

My name is Betty Rafferty. A few weeks ago I had to leave school and go out to work in a cake shop, serving fancy cakes to rude, rich people. No choice.

But since then so much has happened. It all started when old Miss Warby took our pay away. And we walked out!

The whole city – well, all us union members – are going out on strike. Even my dog Earnshaw has joined in!

Life on the picket line in the lashing rain isn’t much fun. Lots of people, like Peter Lawlor, just don’t understand how unfair everything is. But we workers have to stand together – no matter what!

Anna Carey

ANNA CAREY is a journalist and author from Dublin who has written for the Irish Times, Irish Independent and many other publications. Anna’s first book, The Real Rebecca, was published in 2011, and went on to win the Senior Children’s Book prize at the Irish Book Awards. Rebecca returned in the critically acclaimed Rebecca’s Rules, Rebecca Rocks and Rebecca is Always Right. The Making of Mollie (2016) was her first historical novel and was shortlisted for the Senior Children’s Book prize at the 2016 Irish Book Awards and was followed by the sequel, Mollie on the March, which received rave reviews. Anna’s most recent book The Boldness of Betty was also shortlisted for the Senior Children’s Book prize at the 2020 Irish Book Awards and features a cameo appearance from our favourite suffragette, Mollie.

Lauren O'Neill

Lauren O’Neill is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Dublin. Originally from Wexford, she moved to Dublin to study in NCAD and stayed. Her work has appeared across a wide variety of areas from advertising campaigns to storybooks and gallery exhibitions. She has illustrated Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, winning the Children’s Books Ireland Merit Award for Illustration, and Blazing a Trail which won the Children's Book of the Year (senior) Irish Book Award in 2018.

highly recommended

Halfway up the Stairs

Historical fiction written with a light touch, Carey knows how to make the past come alive for young readers

Irish Independent about Mollie on the March

Anna Carey, author of the Rebecca series and The Making of Mollie, explores through Betty’s story the multi-layered inequalities of Irish life that culminated in the 1913 Dublin Lockout and later the Easter Rising. The fictional Betty is able to lead the reader through the real events of this turbulent period of Irish history, rubbing shoulders with some of those whose leadership and bravery established the rights still enjoyed by many workers today… Realistic flavours of the time come from the crumpets and Mary cakes Betty serves to customers… Carey draws on her own family history to inform the setting, much of the book taking place on Strandville Avenue, where four generations of her family lived. Indeed she credits her ancestors’ work as dockers as part of the inspiration for the writing of what is her most substantial and historically enlightening novel yet for young readers

Evening Echo

Carey’s lightness of touch means that descriptions of police brutality towards workers, or the hypocritical actions of Catholic pressure groups, are all the more shocking. ‘You can learn a lot from a story,’ Betty notes, talking to – rather than down to – the young/pre-teen audience for this compelling, satisfying book … endearing, Adrian Mole-esque      

Irish Times

I really loved this story reading about the adventures Betty had. It is a marvellous and thrilling story. I learned quite a lot about the 1913 Lockout … This is a brilliant book and I would rate it five out of five. It deserves 5 stars.’ By Aoife, 6th Class, SN Iorball Sionnaigh, Scotstown, Co Monaghan

Told in Bettys’ own voice as she reaches towards her dream of being a writer, beginning with this memoir, a fascinating picture of life during the Dublin Lockout emerges with insight and feeling. While this is a work of fiction, it has a vision of historical accuracy woven through its’ strands. The portrayal of Betty and her family and friends rings true against this background with all its’ hardships, hopes and dreams and is highly relatable even today. All the confusion and determination of young adult life is relayed in genuine voice. The plot builds steadily with perfect flow, taking us from drama to crisis to resolution and back again. And it is an intriguing read; full of life, heart and reality. An absolutely marvelous book!

Fallen Star Stories

Dublin 1913 and Betty is writing her memoirs. She has just finished her last year in school (and is very upset about it) and has started working in a teashop. As the lockout and murmurs of workers’ rights abound in the background, Betty starts to question her own place in society as a young woman in the workforce. This is an inspiring book, reminding the reader that we all have a voice and that those voices matter. A charming, insightful read for historical fiction fans

Children's Books Ireland

Although the historical events around the Dublin Lockout play an important role in this book, it’s above all a funny and honest look at family and friendship

Irish Independent

I have a LOVELY book for you! #TheBoldnessOfBetty by @urchinette is an engaging, inspiring YA novel set during The Dublin Lockout of 1913. Honestly, I find Anna Carey's novels give me courage and recalibrate my own political compass. Even though I'm not a YA, I LOVED this!

Marian Keyes

The Boldness of Betty by Anna Carey, sees 14 year old Betty and her best friend forced to leave school to work in 1913 Dublin. This book is a warm, cute story with a gritty and dark edge that covers police brutality, Catholic pressure groups, poverty, hunger, inhuman living conditions and with a light hand - making normal of darkness in a palatable yet powerful manner for children. A great class novel for fourth class upwards with a handy teaching resource packed with class activities available for free on the O'Brien website

InTouch Magazine

Anna Carey has created another gutsy female heroine to give us a bird’s eye view of history, in this case of the 1913 Lockout. Fourteen-year-old Betty is an ordinary Dublin girl who rubs shoulders with the suffragettes as she tries to help the people in her city, and find a place for herself outside the narrow confines of social expectation. Clear, concise prose and characters help root this historical tale deep in the reader’s imagination

Business Post

Lovely for children up and going with their own reading

Sunday Independent

Super stocking filler

RTE Guide

historical fiction for teen readers, this story follows 14-year-old Betty during the 1913 Dublin Lockout. Forced to leave school and start work, the brave and determined girl joins the Irish Women Workers' Union on strike as industrial unrest grips the city

Imagine Magazine

Packed with gentle humour and ideal for history-loving youngsters

Irish Independent

Absolutely brilliant. It brings you right into the heart of that time … a wonderful warm story about friendship

Bookseller Trish Hennessy

Packed with gentle humour and ideal for history-loving youngsters

Irish Independent

A lovely piece of historical fiction

Mayo News

Teaching Resources: free to view and download

  • Download Teaching Guides: Teaching guide to the book by Nicola Heaney

Audio available: listen to some of this book now ...

    Opening of chapter 1 from audiobook, read by Emma-Jane Gaffney:

Also by Anna Carey:

The Real Rebecca
Rebecca's Rules
Rebecca Rocks
The Making of Mollie
Rebecca is Always Right
Mollie On The March

Go to author page...

Also by Lauren O'Neill:

Mollie On The March
The Making of Mollie
Twin Power: Throw In!
Twin Power: The Lost Cup
In Between Worlds
The Night-time Cat and the Plump, Grey Mouse

Go to author page...

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