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The Red-Gold Flame

Sellwood, A.V.

London: Corgi Books


The Red-Gold Flame

Plot Summary

This historical fiction begins by describing Captain Knight as he bears witness to the beginning of the insurrection—the overtaking of the GPO by the Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers. The narrator then flashes back to the recent past, moving quickly through Irish ports, trains and small towns in order to describe how the rebels attained the weapons needed for the Rising. When the action returns to the present, narrative focus is on the euphoria felt by the seventeen Irish rebels who inflict hundreds of casualties on the Sherwood Foresters at the Grand Canal on Mount Street on April 26, 1916. The narrator partly blames the failure of the rebellion on this victory, because it creates a false sense of security for the rebels and reinforces their flawed military strategies, including the choice of the GPO as headquarters for the Rising.

The narrator’s focus shifts to the British soldiers, highlighting their defiance and steely determination in the face of defeat by describing the experiences of Lieutenant Colonel Cecil Fane of the Sherwood Foresters. Many of the Foresters are slaughtered, but their fortitude points to the strength that will eventually lead to victory over the rebels. However, the narrator is quick to point out that the British Army’s vast numbers of troops and superior armaments are major contributors to this victory.

As the rebellion is quelled, the narrator continues to oscillate between the perspectives of the soldiers and the rebels. He is careful not to take sides, but concludes the book by describing public response to the executions of the higher-ranking members of Sinn Fein. He asserts that although the Easter Rising was a failure as a rebellion, the executions swayed public opinion in favour of the rebels; these sympathies would later prove critical in making sure Ireland eventually became a Republic.

Main Characters

  • Captain Robert Knight

  • James Connolly

  • Patrick Pearse

  • Eamonn de Valera

  • John Kent

  • Major Ivor Price

  • Countess Markievicz

  • Eoin MacNeill

  • Thomas McDonagh

  • Sir Matthew Nathan

  • Patrick Kearney

  • Arthur Griffith

  • Winston Churchill

  • Thomas J. Clarke

  • Sir Roger Casement

  • Sarah Spellman

  • Kitty Francis

  • Maclear Bate

  • Augustine Birrell

  • James Reilly

  • Lord Donoughmore

  • Sir Horace Plunkett

  • Lt. Colonel Coape-Oates

  • Lt. Colonel Cecil Fane

  • Dr. W. K. Carew

  • Lynch Robinson

  • Willie Macloughlin

Significant Minor Characters

Publication History

The Red-Gold Flame was first published in 1966 by Corgi Books. A subsequent edition was later released in 1971 by White Lion Books. Novel is currently out of print.

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