Volumes in the Irish Writers Series appeared between 1970 - 1978 under the general editorship of J.F. Carens, consisting of studies of more than 40 Irish writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Each volume is devoted to one writer, giving a full acount of their literary career and major works, and considering the relationship of the writer's Irish background to their writings as a whole. Every volume is accompanied by a select bibliography. These studies bring to bear on their subjects contemporary critical insights, attitudes, and techniques.

Inspired by the success that this series enjoyed in the 1970's, Bucknell University Press sought to add to its reputation in Irish Studies. In 2009, the Press commenced a new series of books on Contemporary Irish Writers with John Rickard as General Editor. Read more here or visit the series page.

Volumes in the Irish Writers Series


1970

Sean O'Casey, by Bernard Benstock

In this monograph, Professor Benstock treats in detail the best known and best loved of the Irish playwrights, bringing to bear on its famous subject contemporary critical insights, attitudes, and techniques. Included is an analysis of the plot, character, and action of most of Sean O'Casey's major dramatic works.

James Clarence Mangan, by James Kilroy

James Clarence Mangan details the life and work of one of the greatest-and least known-of the Irish poets of the early 19th century. Mangan, whose best-known poem is "Dark Rosaleen," is outside of Ireland remembered only for half a dozen "anthology" pieces. In this volume, the author analyzes the major works of the tortured poet, and also sketches in some of the biographical highlights of "The Man in the Cloak."

Standish O'Grady, by Phillip L. Marcus

Standish O'Grady is a short critical analysis of one of the most important but least known figures in modern Irish literature. O'Grady was a highly versatile writer who produced volumes of history, legend, romance, drama, and political theory. He also did newspaper leaders and edited a weekly literary review.

W. R. Rodgers, by Darcy O'Brien

W.R. Rodgers is a short critical biography of the Northern Irish poet-broadcaster who once ranked with Louis MacNeice, Patrick Kavanagh, and Austin Clarke among the finest Irish poets. Rodgers also served as producer, writer and broadcaster for the B.B.C., essentially becoming the oral historian of the Irish literary movement. In addition to the biographical information, Mr. O'Brien has provided an analysis of some of the poet-broadcaster's major poems, and has supplied a chronology.

1971

Joseph Sheridan Lefanu, by Michael H. Begnal

Praised as a creator of suspense and of the supernatural, Joseph Sheridan Lefanu (1814-1873) was a novelist and Irish man-of-letters. His work is squarely in the nineteenth-century Gothic tradition, and his tales represent his fascination with horror and brutality. LeFanu has greatly influenced the development of the Gothic genre with his several poems and fourteen novels.

Seumas O'Kelly, by George Brandon Saul

Seumas O'Kelly was a poet, dramatist, journalist and editor, reviewer, and spinner of tales who, in his short lifetime, enjoyed success and influence. This monograph represents O'Kelly as a neglected but important contributor to the Irish Literary Renaissance.

Paul Vincent Carroll, by Paul A. Doyle

This study of playwright Paul Vincent Carroll, who was famous for Shadow and Substance and The White Steed, demonstrates that some of his other realistic plays have been incorrectly undervalued. Professor Doyle examines Carroll's ability as a writer of satirical comedies as well as his interesting experiments in philosophical drama and his concern with symbolism and allegory.

1972

Somerville and Ross, by John Cronin

This volume discusses the life and works of Edith Oenone Somerville and Violet Florence Martin (who wrote under the name of Martin Ross). The two women cousins were both of old Anglo-Irish Protestant families. Together they wrote novels, short stories, and travel sketches.

J.M. Synge, by Robin Skelton

J.M. Synge presents a fine brief analysis of a major playwright whose influence upon playwrights and poets has reached far beyond itself. Professor Skelton brings to bear on his subject contemporary critical insights, attitudes, and techniques, and analyzes the language, plot, character, and action of Synge's plays. The author also considers Synge's verse, and supplies extracts from his diary, showing from the latter some of the major influences upon Synge's work.

Susan L. Mitchell, by Richard M. Kain

Susan L. Mitchell's light verse captures the flavor of Dublin's conversation-a brew of wit, malice, and learning. Mitchell was an intimate friend and editorial associate of George William Russell (the poet A.E.) and was a welcome guest at the many Dublin evenings. Susan L. Mitchell is a portrait of the artist as a woman of great personal charm, brilliant wit, and inner spirituality.

Eimar O'Duffy, by Robert Hogan

This volume discusses the work of little-known Dublin-born Irish satirist, whose best work is perhaps King Goshawk and the Birds. The author shows how O'Duffy's views on politics, Irish society, and especially economics influenced his literary career.

Mervyn Wall, by Robert Hogan

Mervyn Wall was a playwright, novelist, and radio broadcaster. He is perhaps best known for The Unfortunate Fursey, a fantasy-satire of contemporary Ireland set in the Middle Ages, and its sequel The Return of Fursey. He is also the author of the novels Leaves for the Burning and No Trophies Raise, and the plays, Alarm Among the Clerks and The Lady in the Twilight.

1973

Peadar O'Donnell, by Grattan Freyer

This volume shows how life, literature, and politics were inextricably mingled in this flamboyant personality, whose gifts for friendship and political agitation did not prevent his writing six fine novels shrewdly mirroring life in remote rural Ireland.

Daniel Corkery, by George Brandon Saul

Daniel Corkery (1878-1964) was the author of several plays, short stories, poetry, essays, reviews, tracts, and one novel, as well as a painter in watercolor and Professor of English (University College, Cork). In this monograph, Dr. Saul considers Corkery's body of work. Although critics consider Corkery's novel his best work, Dr. Saul prefers the short stories. To Dr. Saul, it was in his short stories and few plays that Daniel Corkery "really honored Ireland and his heritage."

Sir Samuel Ferguson, by Malcolm Brown

This volume examines Sir Samuel Ferguson's career, especially in light of its impact upon W.B. Yeats, who had called Ferguson "Ireland's greatest poet," and the "most Irish" of all Irish writers. Ferguson was a great satirist and translator, and an important Protestant idealogue.

Brian Friel, by D.E.S. Maxwell

Brian Friel began his literary career as a short-story writer, with regular contributions to The New Yorker in the mid-fifties and two books of short stories, The Saucer of Larks in 1962 and The Gold in the Sea in 1966.

Maria Edgeworth, by James Newcomer

Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849) was a prolific novelist who also published essays and illustrative stories for children. She is best remembered for Castle Retreat, a novel published in 1800.

Liam O'Flaherty, by James H. O'Brien

Liam O'Flaherty (1896-1984), best known for his novel The Informer, also gained a reputation among Irish writers for his short stories and brief lyric sketches that dramatize the elemental instincts of man. He was also the author of fourteen novels about the traumas plaguing Ireland in the modern age.

Lady Gregory, by Hazard Adams

Long stereotyped as a writer for the Abbey Theatre, Lady Gregory (1852-1932) was also a re-creator of Irish myth and transmitter of folklore, especially in her wonder plays and plays for children. Lady Gregory wrote more than thirty-five plays and, according to Yeats, was the "founder of modern dialect literature."

1974

John Butler Yeats, by Douglas N. Archibald

John Butler Yeats (1839-1922) is chiefly remembered as the father of genius; his son William was Ireland's leading modern poet and his son Jack its most famous modern painter. But he was himself a gifted conversationalist, a talented painter, and the author of essays, reviews, poems, a fragment of an autobiography, and hundreds of letters to family and friends in Ireland, England, and America.

Francis Stuart, by J.H. Natterstad

In writing this critical biography of Francis Stuart, the first full study of Stuart's literary achievement, Professor Natterstad worked closely with his subject, interviewed friends and acquaintances, and had access to previously unavailable Stuart material. The author explores not only the novels, poems, and plays, but also Stuart's childhood in Ireland and England, his uneasy marriage to Iseult Gonne, his relationship with Yeats and Maud Gonne, the turbulent years he spent in wartime Germany, and the psychological forces that shaped his art.

Benedict Kiely, by Daniel J. Casey

Benedict Kiely (1919-2007) was Ireland's ubiquitous literary personality. To say that he was prolific or versatile is an oversimplification. Kiely was on the editorial staff of The Independent, and served as literary editor of the Irish Press and reviewer for the New York Times. He was also a frequent critic for Radio-Telefís Éireann.

Brian Moore, by Jeanne Flood

This volume examines the career of Brian Moore (1921-1999). It considers in chronological order the nine major works he published starting in 1955. The study focuses upon the way in which Moore's work expresses his attitude toward the creation of fiction and thus toward his own activity as a novelist.

Katherine Tynan, by Marilyn Gaddis Rose

Katherine Tynan was the author of more than eighty titles, including poetry, fiction, and journal articles. In her work, she wrote to women, about women, and on behalf of women. In this monograph, Professor Rose examines Tynan's role as father's girl and hostess, as wife and mother who wrote for "hearth and home," and as determined widow who made writing her life.

Douglas Hyde, by Gareth W. Dunleavy

Douglas Hyde (1860-1949) was a poet-folklorist as well as the first president of modern Ireland. Hyde also served as president of the Gaelic League, an organization hoping to revive the Irish language. This monograph draws on his letters, manuscripts, and documents and his place in the Irish literary scene. Incorporating information gained from personal interviews done in 1970 and 1971 with men and women who knew Hyde, this work sheds new light on Hyde's birth, his early education, and his relationships at the peak of his literary career.

Edna O'Brien, by Grace Eckley

Edna O'Brien is the author of nine books, four successful screenplays, and numerous television plays and short stories. This volume traces the development of the novelist through her background in Country Clare, Ireland, and removal to Dublin and hence to England. Dr. Eckley investigates, through the novels and short stories, dominant motifs of the search for and disillusionment with romantic love, the acquisition of independence and accompanying loneliness, and the inhibiting Irish parochial attitudes that conflict with self-development.

1975

Charles Robert Maturin, by Robert E. Lougy

This volume discusses the career of Charles Robert Maturin (1780-1824), the author of six novels and three published plays; yet, he is remembered today only for the novel Melmoth the Wanderer. Throughout his writings, and especially in The Wild Irish Boy and in The Milesian Chief, he not only wrestled with the problem of Ireland's identity but also tried to educate his reading audience in Ireland's history.

George Fitzmaurice, by Arthur E. McGuinness

This volume discusses the career of George Fitzmaurice (1877-1963), author of seventeen plays and one of the Irish theater's most significant folk-dramatists. Fitzmaurice's best plays are his folk-plays and fantasies, plays like The Magic Glasses and The Dandy Dolls. In these plays he creates an unforgettable picture of the Irish countryman and the domestic, social, and supernatural forces that shape him.

William Allingham, by Alan Warner

William Allingham (1824-1889) is noted for his achievements in three fields: his long narrative poem on the Irish land troubles of the eighteen-sixties, his success as a lyric poet and writer of ballads and songs, and his prose that shows real powers of observation, imagination, and reflection.

Seamus Heaney, by Robert Buttel

Seamus Heaney, poet, playwright, and author, is a leading figure in the recent surge of poetry from northern Ireland. Heaney spent his youth on a farm in County Derry before attending Queens University, Belfast. His poetry is distinctly Irish in its concerns, and combines the earthy vigor of his rural origin with the literary sophistication of the Irish and English poetic traditions. Professor Saul treats Heaney's three volumes of poetry, and, along with its rich quotations from the poems, provides a perceptive analysis of this poet's art and development.

Patrick Kavanagh, by Darcy O'Brien

Patrick Kavanagh, a controversial figure who involved himself in social and political issues of his day, was a poet and novelist of astonishing vitality and power. His greatest achievements are the poem The Great Hunger (1942) and a number of beautiful lyrics. Kavanagh established himself as an individual writer concerned with his own perceptions about his life, his country, and the universe.

Iris Murdoch, by Donna Gerstenberger

Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin not long after the Easter Rising. Her work, influenced by her family life, early schooling at Badminton, employment with UNESCO, training at Oxford and Cambridge, and her interest in modern continental philosophers, is not especially definable as Irish. In fact, the main roots of Murdoch's fiction seem to be English, though the recurrence of Irish characters in her novels and her extensive treatment of Easter Rising in The Red and the Green make explicit a persistent consciousness of Ireland as a force in her fictional world.

Mary Lavin, by Zack Bowen

This volume includes a biographical account gleaned largely from the author's interviews with Mary Lavin and her husband, an interpretation of her vision as reflected in her themes, and an analysis of her style and outlook drawn from her short stories and novels. In her own statement, Mary Lavin alludes to the most striking characteristic of her work-her intensely personal and autobiographical approach to the art of fiction.

John Montague, by Frank Kersnowski

This monograph discusses John Montague's work-a volume of fiction, Death of a Chieftain and Other Stories, and several volumes of poetry-which examine the family, the community, and the experiences that shaped his character. Ireland is important to him as both man and writer; legend, archaeology, history, and contemporary life all concern him, their details becoming manifestations of patterns that are universal and mythic for him.

Elizabeth Bowen, by Edwin J. Kenney

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) was one of the few truly accomplished Irish women novelists and one of the most distinguished writers of her time. This study relates Miss Bowen's Anglo-Irish heritage and childhood experiences, as described in Seven Winters, Bowen's Court, and The Shelbourne Hotel, to her fascination with problems of identity in such major novels as The Death of the Heart, The Heat of the Day, The Little Girls, and Eva Trout.

1976

George Russell (A.E.), by Richard M. Kain and James H. O'Brien

George William Russel (A.E.) (1867-1935) was the central presence of the Irish Revival. This volume treats in detail the life of this versatile and practical mystic who out of his visions constructed his poems, paintings, philosophy, and his ambition to work for the spiritual regeneration of Ireland.

Frank O'Connor, by James H. Matthews

Michael O'Donovan (1903-1966) was a rebel, born in the slums of Cork, a school dropout at 14, a member of the IRA who took his stand with the Republicans during the Civil War. He also taught Irish in rural schools, directed a theater group in Cork, served as a librarian, and managed the famous Abbey Theatre. Under the name Frank O'Connor, O'Donovan wrote two novels, a book of poetry, translations, three plays, a biography, and many short stories.

Oliver St. John Gogarty, by J.B. Lyons

Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878-1957), a doctor specializing in Ear-Nose-Throat surgery, was also an acclaimed poet. Though he took as models the Greek and Latin classics and the English Elizabethans, he was very much a national poet as he succeeded in wedding the ancient Mediterranean myths with those of ancient Ireland. Gogarty also produced numerous plays and works of prose.

1978

Thomas Davis, by Eileen Sullivan

Thomas Davis (1814-1845) is generally known as a nationalist writer and a journalist who wrote poems, songs, ballads and essays for The Nation, a newspaper he founded with Charles Gavan Duffy and John Blake Dillon. With a poet's soul, he sought to play the role of nation builder, and often used the newspaper to communicate his ideas.

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