A 1913 Dublin Lockout Novel

Written by
Anna Carey
Cover design or artwork by
Lauren O'Neill
The Boldness of Betty

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


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416 pages
196x130 mm

Also available as an Electronic Book (ePub)


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 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.

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
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Teaching Resources: free to view and download

  • pdf-logoDownload Teaching Guides: Teaching guide to the book by Nicola Heaney

Other books by this author
  • The Real Rebecca
  • Rebecca's Rules
  • Rebecca Rocks
  • The Making of Mollie

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