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The Irish have an amazing history in the area of Literature, from the Book of Kells to the latest 1997 Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt for Angela's Ashes.

This is only a small sample.


Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Novelist and playwright, one of the great names of Absurd Theatre with Eugéne Ionesco. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.
"We all are born mad. Some remain so." (from Waiting for Godot, 1952)

 

Brendan Behan

Brendan Behan [1923-1964]
A member of the IRA, he was arrested at the age of 16 for carrying explosives and spent 18 months in an English Borstal home. Served four years in an Irish prison for shooting a policeman. Works include The Quare Fellow, Borstal Boy, Confessions of an Irish Rebel, The Hostage and Richard's Cork leg.


James Joyce

James Joyce [1882-1941]
One of the most influential novelists of the 20th century. Joyce is best known for his experimental use of language and his exploration of new literary methods.

His works include Ulysses (1922), A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man (1916) and Finnegan's Wake (1939).


Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker [1845-1912]
Best known for his classic horror novel, Dracula (1897). He was born in Dublin, studied at Trinity College and became a civil servant. Stoker left Ireland in 1876 to become secretary and business manager for English actor Sir Henry Irving in London.


Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift [1667-1745]
Best known as the author of Gulliver's Travels. Became Dean of St Patrick's, Dublin, in 1713. One of the few Protestants to support Catholic equity.

Other works include The Battle of the Books and Tale of the Tub.

 

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde [1854-1900]
Born in Dublin and died in Paris. Poet and dramatist. Won the Newdigate poetry prize in 1878 for Ravenna. Was notorious for his style of dress and odd behaviour. Convicted of homosexual practices and served two years from 1895 to 1897. Works include The Ballad of Reading Gaol, The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere's Fan.

Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle [1958- ]
Born in Dublin. His first novel, The Commitments, was made into a successful film.
He won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. Other works include The Woman Who Walked Into Doors [1996] and the plays Brown Bread and War.

 

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt [1930- ]
Born in Brooklyn, moved to Limerick at age four when his parents returned home. Won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for Angela's Ashes.
Emigrated to New York [1949], held menial jobs before being drafted into the army. He then trained as a teacher despite not having been to high school. Other works include Tis, a sequel to Angela's Ashes.

 

Sean O'Casey

Sean O'Casey [1880-1964]
Playwright, renowned for his realistic dramas about the slums of Dublin in war and revolution.
His works include Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock, The Plough and the Stars and The Silver Tassle.

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy [1940- ]
Born in a village outside Dublin. Became a teacher before writing full time. Best selling popular novelist whose stories are set in "ordinary" Ireland.
Her books include The Glass Lake, Silver Wedding, Circle of Friends, and Light a Penny Candle.

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw [1856-1950]. Born in Dublin, moved to London in 1876 and became a leading figure in the Fabian Society. He became famous as a journalist and political pamphleteer, then turned to drama.
His works include Caesar and Cleopatra, Major Barbara, Saint Joan, but his greatest commercial success was Pygmalion (1912).
He contributed 'Shavian' - ironic wit - to the language. "England and America are two countries divided by a common language." See Quotes of GBS.

 

Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith [1728-1774]
Born in Kilkenny. Dramatist essayist, poet, novelist. Educated at Trinity College Dublin.
Samuel Johnson said of him " No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had".
His works include She Stoops to Conquer, The Vicar of Wakefield and The Deserted Village.

 

Malachy McCourt

Malachy McCourt, brother of Frank, was born in Brooklyn, raised in Limerick. Failed every subject in school 'except English and recess'. Returned to the US in 1952, worked as a longshoreman, dishwasher and labourer. Became an actor, then established the first singles bar in America. Books include A Monk Swimming, Voices of Ireland and Harold Be Thy Name.

 

William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats [1865 1939] Poet and playwright, born in Dublin. The greatest lyric poet Ireland has produced and one of the major figures of 20th century literature, he was the acknowledged leader of the Irish literary renaissance.
Yeats immortalised the notion of Ireland as a woman whose four green fields were taken away from her, in his short play, Cathleen ni Houlihan.

   

 

 

 

 

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