Ruth Dudley Edwards (born 24 May 1944, in Dublin, Ireland) is an Irish historian and writer of history, biography and crime fiction. One of several positions she holds is columnist with the Irish Sunday Independent.
Dudley Edwards was born and brought up in Dublin and educated at University College Dublin (UCD), Girton College, Cambridge, and Wolfson College, Cambridge. Her father was the Irish historian Professor Robert Dudley Edwards. Her brother Owen Dudley Edwards is a historian at the University of Edinburgh. In 1965, she married a fellow UCD graduate, the journalist Patrick Cosgrave; they later divorced.
Her grandmother, Bridget Dudley Edwards, was an Irish suffragette and a member of Cumann na mBan, a women's organisation designed to support the Irish Volunteers. Members of Cumann na mBan gathered intelligence, transported arms, nursed wounded men, provided safe houses, and organised support for IRA men in prison. They also boosted attendance at election rallies, funerals and protest marches. In 1922 the organisation overwhelmingly rejected the Treaty.
Her non-fiction books include An Atlas of Irish History, James Connolly, Victor Gollancz: A Biography (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize), The Pursuit of Reason: The Economist 1843-1993, The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate Portrait of the Loyal Institutions (shortlisted for Channel 4/The House Politico's Book of the Year) and Newspapermen: Hugh Cudlipp, Cecil King and the glory days of Fleet Street. Her Patrick Pearse: The Triumph of Failure (winner of the National University of Ireland Prize for Historical Research), first published in 1977, was reissued in 2006 by Irish Academic Press. In 2009 she published Aftermath: The Omagh Bombings and the Families' Pursuit of Justice, a book about the civil case that was won on 8 June 2009 against the Omagh bombers. The Faithful Tribe was criticised by Ulster Protestant journalist Susan McKay as "sentimental and blinkered", but the New Statesman contributor Stephen Howe described it as "engrossing and illuminating" and the Irish Independent journalist John A. Murphy described it as "enormously readable, entertaining and informative", but "[her argument] 'extremely disingenuous'", and he quotes Shakespeare, 'The lady doth protest too much, methinks', when describing one of her counter-arguments as 'exaggerated'. He added "Historically in Ireland, Protestant `liberties' tended to mean Protestant `privilege,' and many Protestants (even including some United Irishmen) doubted whether Roman Catholics were constitutionally capax libertatis capable of appreciating or enjoying liberty at all, because of Roman tyranny and priest-craft. In short, the Orange Protestant is still benightedly living in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the Southern Catholic, whatever his past intolerances, has moved on.". In 2016 she published The Seven: The Lives and Legacies of the Founding Fathers of the Irish Republic (Oneworld), a re-examination of the Easter Rising, addressing the fundamental questions and myths surrounding the 1916 leaders.
Also a crime fiction writer, her novels include: Corridors of Death, The Saint Valentine's Day Murders, The English School of Murder, Clubbed to Death, Matricide at St. Martha's, Ten Lords A-Leaping, Murder in a Cathedral, Publish and Be Murdered, Anglo-Irish Murders, Carnage on the Committee, Murdering Americans, and Killing the Emperors.
Following the Cannes prize announcement, for The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Ruth Dudley Edwards wrote in the Daily Mail on 30 May 2006 that Loach's political viewpoint "requires the portrayal of the British as sadists and the Irish as romantic, idealistic resistance fighters who take to violence only because there is no other self-respecting course," and attacked his career in an article. The following week, Edwards continued her attack in The Guardian, admitting that her first article was written without seeing the film (which at that stage had only been shown at Cannes), and asserting that she would never see it "because I can't stand its sheer predictability."