Beginner’s Pluck: Averil Douglas Opperman

Rebelling against her parent’s wishes that she attend Trinity College Dublin, Averil joined the Irish Times as a cub reporter. 

Beginner’s Pluck: Averil Douglas Opperman

Working in news, she frequently covered the Dáil, because of her family contacts. She became the Equestrian Correspondent, and later edited Irish Horse World whilst remaining on the Irish Times. She frequently commentated for RTÉ on events like the Dublin Horse Show.

“Those days were a riot. I was on the contraceptive train.” After 15 years, she went to England and lived in Winchester, before settling in Worcestershire. Since then she has practised freelance journalism, and, interested in local affairs, she wrote a prize winning history book of the parish.

Who is Averil Douglas Opperman?

Date/place of birth: Born in Dublin. “I’m in my sixties.”

Education: Hillcourt, Glenageary. Finishing school in Switzerland.

Home: Worcestershire, England.

Family: Husband Michael, step-sons Pete and Guy, and son David.

The Day Job: “I manage our small holding, and help my husband with his business.”

Interests: “I’m involved in local charities, and I’m a prolific letter writer. I’m a hoarder of friends.”

Favourite Writers: Mary Wesley; Janet Evanovich; Kate Beaufoy, Marian Keyes and Tara Flynn. “ I’m reading Susan Abulhawa and William Langland’s Piers Plowman.”

Second Books: “I’ve started one on my grandfather, James Green Douglas, the Quaker senator, who was appointed by Michael Collins to chair the committee drafting the Constitution of the Irish State.”

Top Tip: Put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door, take the phone off the hook, turn off your devices, and immerse yourself in writing.

Web: Twitter: @ADOpperman

The Debut

While it is yet Day: The Story of Elizabeth Fry; Orphans Publishing, €23.33/Kindle: €10.94

Born into a wealthy family in 1780, Elizabeth Fry is best known for reforming England’s prisons. A Quaker who had 11 children, she also formalised nursing.

“As a Quaker, I grew up admiring Elizabeth Fry; as a child she was as shy as I was. What resonated with me was not just the social reform, but how she had to juggle her work with being a wife, and a mother to 11 children.”

The Verdict: An intriguing biography showing that little has changed for working women since Fry’s struggles.

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