Samuel Lover, (born Feb. 24, 1797, Dublin, Ire.--died July 6, 1868, St. Helier, Isle of Jersey), Anglo-Irish novelist, songwriter, and painter. Privately educated, Lover fled his father's stockbroking office and became a successful painter, largely of portraits. He also wrote songs, notably "Rory O'More" (1826), which he also developed as a novel (1837) and a play (1837). His best known novel is Handy Andy (1842), often seen as one of the sources of the "stage Irishman," a popular theatrical stereotype. After failing eyesight forced him to give up painting, he gave successful entertainments..
Edward Dowden, (born May 3, 1843, Cork, County Cork, Ire.--died April 4, 1913, Dublin), Irish critic, biographer, and poet, noted for his critical work on Shakespeare.Educated at Queen's College, Cork, and Trinity College, Dublin, Dowden became professor of English literature at Trinity in 1867 and lectured at Oxford (1890-93) and Cambridge (1893-96). His Shakspere: A Critical Study of His Mind and Art (1875) was the first book in English to attempt a unified and rounded picture of Shakespeare's development as an artist, studying him in terms of successive periods. His other works on Shakespeare..
James Stephens, (born Feb. 9, 1880, Dublin--died Dec. 26, 1950, London), Irish poet and storyteller whose pantheistic philosophy is revealed in his fairy tales set in the Dublin slums of his childhood and in his compassionate poems about animals.Stephens was working as a solicitor's clerk and educating himself when he met the Irish poet AE (George William Russell), who encouraged him and helped him publish Insurrections, his first book of poetry, in 1909. His first novel, The Charwoman's Daughter, appeared in 1911 in The Irish Review, which he had helped found that year. It was his next book,..
Charles Macklin, original name Charles McLaughlin, (born 1690/99, Ireland--died July 11, 1797, London, Eng.), Irish actor and playwright whose distinguished though turbulent career spanned most of the 18th century.Macklin first appeared as an actor at Bristol and in 1725 went to Lincoln's Inn Fields, London. A man of violent nature, he was a pioneer against the stilted declamation of his day. He went to Drury Lane Theatre in 1733 and later was concerned in its management. In 1735 he killed another actor in the greenroom over a dispute about a wig, but, although prosecuted, he received no sentence...
Douglas Hyde, Irish Dubhghlas de hIde, pseudonym An Craoibhin Aoibhinn, (born Jan. 17, 1860, Frenchpark, County Roscommon, Ire.--died July 12, 1949, Dublin), distinguished Gaelic scholar and writer and first president of the Republic of Ireland (Eire). He was the outstanding figure in the struggle for the preservation and extension of the Irish language from 1893, when he founded the Gaelic League (a nationalistic organization of Roman Catholics and Protestants), until 1922, when the founding of the Irish Free State accorded the Irish language equal status with English.In 1884 Hyde graduated..
Henry Brooke, (born c. 1703, County Cavan, Ire.--died Oct. 10, 1783, Dublin), Irish novelist and dramatist, best known for The Fool of Quality, one of the outstanding English examples of the novel of sensibility--a novel in which the characters demonstrate a heightened emotional response to events around them. After attending Trinity College, Dublin, Brooke went to London in 1724 to study law. There he became friendly with Alexander Pope; he had already met Jonathan Swift in Ireland.In 1739 Brooke wrote a celebrated drama, Gustavus Vasa, the Deliverer of His Country, performance of which..
George Farquhar, (born 1678, Londonderry, County Derry, Ire.--died April 29, 1707, London, Eng.), Irish playwright of real comic power who wrote for the English stage at the beginning of the 18th century. He stood out from his contemporaries for originality of dialogue and a stage sense that doubtless stemmed from his experience as an actor.The son of a clergyman, Farquhar entered Trinity College, Dublin, as a sizar (one who received a college allowance in return for performing menial duties), but he preferred working as an unsuccessful actor at the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. During a performance..
Frank McCourt, original name Francis McCourt, (born August 19, 1930, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.--died July 19, 2009, New York, New York), American author and teacher who was perhaps best known for the memoir Angela's Ashes (1996), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.Frank was the first child of Irish immigrants Malachy and Angela McCourt. The Great Depression and his father's alcoholism kept the family destitute, and, when Frank was four years old, the McCourts left New York to join relatives in Limerick, Ireland. The family's situation failed to improve, however. The title Angela's Ashes refers..
Thomas Moore, (born May 28, 1779, Dublin, Ire.--died Feb. 25, 1852, Wiltshire, Eng.), Irish poet, satirist, composer, and political propagandist. He was a close friend of Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.The son of a Roman Catholic wine merchant, Moore graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1799 and then studied law in London. His major poetic work, Irish Melodies (1807-34), earned him an income of GBP500 annually for a quarter of a century. It contained such titles as "The Last Rose of Summer" and "Oft in the Stilly Night." The Melodies, a group of 130 poems set to the music of Moore and of..
William Trevor, original name William Trevor Cox, (born May 24, 1928, Mitchelstown, County Cork, Ireland--died November 20, 2016, Somerset, England), Irish writer who was noted for his wry and often macabre short stories and novels.In 1950 Trevor graduated from Trinity College Dublin, and he subsequently began teaching in Northern Ireland and working as a sculptor. In 1954 he moved to England, where he initially taught art. He later settled in London, and in the early 1960s he worked as an advertising copywriter. During this time Trevor began publishing novels and short stories. A Standard..
Maeve Binchy, (born May 28, 1940, Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland--died July 30, 2012, Dublin), Irish journalist and author of best-selling novels and short stories about small-town Irish life. Noted as a superb storyteller, Binchy examined her characters and their relationships with wit and great understanding.Educated at University College, Dublin (B.A., 1960), Binchy taught school in Dublin from 1961 to 1968, when she began her career as a reporter for the daily Irish Times. Her earliest short stories, first published in two collections in 1978 and 1980 and republished collectively..
Elizabeth Bowen, in full Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, (born June 7, 1899, Dublin, Ire.--died Feb. 22, 1973, London, Eng.), British novelist and short-story writer who employed a finely wrought prose style in fictions frequently detailing uneasy and unfulfilling relationships among the upper-middle class. The Death of the Heart (1938), the title of one of her most highly praised novels, might have served for most of them.Bowen was born of the Anglo-Irish gentry and spent her early childhood in Dublin, as related in her autobiographical fragment Seven Winters (1942), and at the family house..
Maria Edgeworth, (born Jan. 1, 1767, Blackbourton, Oxfordshire, Eng.--died May 22, 1849, Edgeworthstown, Ire.), Anglo-Irish writer, known for her children's stories and for her novels of Irish life.She lived in England until 1782, when the family went to Edgeworthstown, County Longford, in midwestern Ireland, where Maria, then 15 and the eldest daughter, assisted her father in managing his estate. In this way she acquired the knowledge of rural economy and of the Irish peasantry that was to be the backbone of her novels. Domestic life at Edgeworthstown was busy and happy. Encouraged by her..
Rebecca West, in full Dame Rebecca West, pseudonym of Cicily Isabel Andrews, nee Fairfield, (born December 21, 1892, London, England--died March 15, 1983, London), British journalist, novelist, and critic, who was perhaps best known for her reports on the Nurnberg trials of Nazi war criminals (1945-46).West was the daughter of an army officer and was educated in Edinburgh after her father's death in 1902. She later trained in London as an actress (taking her pseudonym from a role that she had played in Henrik Ibsen's play Rosmersholm).From 1911 West became involved in journalism, contributing..
Seamus Heaney, in full Seamus Justin Heaney, (born April 13, 1939, near Castledawson, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland--died August 30, 2013, Dublin, Ireland), Irish poet whose work is notable for its evocation of Irish rural life and events in Irish history as well as for its allusions to Irish myth. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.After graduating from Queen's University, Belfast (B.A., 1961), Heaney taught secondary school for a year and then lectured in colleges and universities in Belfast and Dublin. He became a member of the Field Day Theatre Company in 1980, soon..
Iris Murdoch, in full Dame Iris Murdoch, original name in full Jean Iris Murdoch, married name Mrs. John O. Bayley, (born July 15, 1919, Dublin, Ireland--died February 8, 1999, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England), British novelist and philosopher noted for her psychological novels that contain philosophical and comic elements.After an early childhood spent in London, Murdoch went to Badminton School, Bristol, and from 1938 to 1942 studied at Somerville College, Oxford. Between 1942 and 1944 she worked in the British Treasury and then for two years as an administrative officer with the United..
Bram Stoker, byname of Abraham Stoker, (born Nov. 8, 1847, Clontarf, County Dublin, Ire.--died April 20, 1912, London, Eng.), Irish writer best known as the author of the Gothic horror tale Dracula.
Although an invalid in early childhood--he could not stand or walk until he was seven--Stoker outgrew his weakness to become an outstanding athlete and football (soccer) player at Trinity College (1864-70) in Dublin, where he earned a degree in mathematics. After 10 years in the civil service at Dublin Castle, during which he was also an unpaid drama critic for the Dublin Evening Mail (later the..
Brendan Behan, in full Brendan Francis Behan, (born Feb. 9, 1923, Dublin, Ire.--died March 20, 1964, Dublin), Irish author noted for his earthy satire and powerful political commentary.Reared in a family active in revolutionary and left-wing causes against the British, Behan at the age of eight began what became a lifelong battle with alcoholism. After leaving school in 1937, he learned the house-painter's trade while concurrently participating in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as a courier.Behan was arrested in England while on a sabotage mission and sentenced (February 1940) to three..
Brian Friel, (born January 9/10, 1929, near Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland--died October 2, 2015, Greencastle, County Donegal, Ireland), playwright who explored social and political life in Ireland and Northern Ireland as he delved into family ties, communication and mythmaking as human needs, and the tangled relationships between narrative, history, and nationality.Friel was educated at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth (B.A., 1948), and St. Mary's Training College (later St. Mary's University College), Belfast (1949-50), and he taught school in Londonderry (Derry) for..
Samuel Beckett, in full Samuel Barclay Beckett, (born April 13?, 1906, Foxrock, County Dublin, Ireland--died December 22, 1989, Paris, France), author, critic, and playwright, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. He wrote in both French and English and is perhaps best known for his plays, especially En attendant Godot (1952; Waiting for Godot).LifeSamuel Beckett was born in a suburb of Dublin. Like his fellow Irish writers George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and William Butler Yeats, he came from a Protestant, Anglo-Irish background. At the age of 14 he went to the Portora Royal..
Jonathan Swift, pseudonym Isaac Bickerstaff, (born Nov. 30, 1667, Dublin, Ire.--died Oct. 19, 1745, Dublin), Anglo-Irish author, who was the foremost prose satirist in the English language. Besides the celebrated novel Gulliver's Travels (1726), he wrote such shorter works as A Tale of a Tub (1704) and "A Modest Proposal" (1729).Early life and educationSwift's father, Jonathan Swift the elder, was an Englishman who had settled in Ireland after the Stuart Restoration (1660) and become steward of the King's Inns, Dublin. In 1664 he married Abigail Erick, who was the daughter of an English..
William Butler Yeats, (born June 13, 1865, Sandymount, Dublin, Ireland—died January 28, 1939, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France), Irish poet, dramatist, and prose writer, one of the greatest English-language poets of the 20th century. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.Yeats’s father, John Butler Yeats, was a barrister who eventually became a portrait painter. His mother, formerly Susan Pollexfen, was the daughter of a prosperous merchant in Sligo, in western Ireland. Through both parents Yeats (pronounced “Yates”) claimed kinship with various Anglo-Irish Protestant..
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, in full Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan, (baptized November 4, 1751, Dublin, Ireland—died July 7, 1816, London, England), Irish-born playwright, impresario, orator, and Whig politician. His plays, notably The School for Scandal (1777), form a link in the history of the comedy of manners between the end of the 17th century and Oscar Wilde in the 19th century.Formative yearsSheridan was the third son of Thomas and Frances Sheridan. His grandfather Thomas Sheridan had been a companion and confidant of Jonathan Swift; his father was the author of a pronouncing dictionary..
Oscar Wilde, in full Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, (born October 16, 1854, Dublin, Ireland—died November 30, 1900, Paris, France), Irish wit, poet, and dramatist whose reputation rests on his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), and on his comic masterpieces Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). He was a spokesman for the late 19th-century Aesthetic movement in England, which advocated art for art’s sake, and he was the object of celebrated civil and criminal suits involving homosexuality and ending in his imprisonment (1895–97).Wilde..
Oliver Goldsmith, (born Nov. 10, 1730, Kilkenny West, County Westmeath, Ire.—died April 4, 1774, London), Anglo-Irish essayist, poet, novelist, dramatist, and eccentric, made famous by such works as the series of essays The Citizen of the World, or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher (1762), the poem The Deserted Village (1770), the novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), and the play She Stoops to Conquer (1773).LifeGoldsmith was the son of an Anglo-Irish clergyman, the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, curate in charge of Kilkenny West, County Westmeath. At about the time of his birth, the family moved..
Laurence Sterne, (born Nov. 24, 1713, Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ire.—died March 18, 1768, London, Eng.), Irish-born English novelist and humorist, author of Tristram Shandy (1759–67), an early novel in which story is subordinate to the free associations and digressions of its narrator. He is also known for the novel A Sentimental Journey (1768).Life.Sterne’s father, Roger, though grandson of an archbishop of York, was an infantry officer of the lowest rank who fought in many battles during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14). In Flanders, Roger married Agnes, the widow of an officer,..
James Joyce, in full James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, (born February 2, 1882, Dublin, Ireland—died January 13, 1941, Zürich, Switzerland), Irish novelist noted for his experimental use of language and exploration of new literary methods in such large works of fiction as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939).Early lifeJoyce, the eldest of 10 children in his family to survive infancy, was sent at age six to Clongowes Wood College, a Jesuit boarding school that has been described as “the Eton of Ireland.” But his father was not the man to stay affluent for long; he drank, neglected his affairs,..
George Bernard Shaw, (born July 26, 1856, Dublin, Ireland—died November 2, 1950, Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England), Irish comic dramatist, literary critic, and socialist propagandist, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.Early life and careerGeorge Bernard Shaw was the third and youngest child (and only son) of George Carr Shaw and Lucinda Elizabeth Gurly Shaw. Technically, he belonged to the Protestant “ascendancy”—the landed Irish gentry—but his impractical father was first a sinecured civil servant and then an unsuccessful grain merchant, and George Bernard..
Charles Wolfe, (born Dec. 14, 1791, Dublin, Ire.--died Feb. 21, 1823, Queenstown, County Cork), Irish poet and clergyman, whose "Burial of Sir John Moore" (1817), commemorating the commander of the British forces at the Battle of Corunna (La Coruna, Spain) during the Peninsular War, is one of the best-known funeral elegies in English. Wolfe attended Trinity College, Dublin, was ordained in 1817, and held curacies in County Tyrone.
Patrick Kavanagh, (born Oct. 21, 1904, near Inniskeen, County Monaghan, Ire.--died Nov. 30, 1967, Dublin), poet whose long poem The Great Hunger put him in the front rank of modern Irish poets.Kavanagh was self-educated and worked for a while on a farm in his home county, which provided the setting for a novel, Tarry Flynn (1948), which later was dramatized and presented at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. After moving to Dublin, where he spent most of his life as a journalist, Kavanagh wrote The Great Hunger (1942), an epic about an Irish farm boy, containing impassioned satirical passages that recall..
Hugh Leonard, (John Joseph Byrne; John Keyes Byrne), Irish dramatist (born Nov. 9, 1926, Dalkey, County Dublin, Ire.--died Feb. 12, 2009, Dublin, Ire.), was admired in Ireland as one of the country's best playwrights, but outside his native land he was best known for the play Da, a bittersweet semiautobiographical exploration of the complex relationship between a man and his recently deceased adoptive father, or "da." The play, which was first produced in 1973 in an amateur theatre in Maryland, triumphed on Broadway for almost two years (1978-80) and won the Drama Desk Award for outstanding..
Eavan Boland, in full Eavan Aisling Boland, (born Sept. 24, 1944, Dublin, Ire.), Irish poet and literary critic whose expressive verse explored familiar domestic themes and examined both the isolation and the beauty of being a woman, wife, and mother.Boland was educated in Dublin, London, and New York City, moving as a result of her father's itinerant career as a diplomat and an academic. She graduated with honours from Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1966), and became a freelance lecturer and journalist, notably as a critic for The Irish Times. After publishing early, unpolished poetry..
Jennifer Johnston, in full Jennifer Prudence Johnston, (born January 12, 1930, Dublin, Ireland), Irish novelist whose works deal with political and cultural tensions in Ireland, with an emphasis on the problems of the Anglo-Irish. Rich in dialogue, Johnston's novels often concern interpersonal relationships and the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood.Johnston, whose father was a playwright, was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. Her first published book, The Captains and the Kings (1972), was actually written after The Gates (1973); both novels feature the Anglo-Irish..
John McGahern, (born November 12, 1934, Dublin, Ireland--died March 30, 2006, Dublin), Irish novelist and short-story writer known for his depictions of Irish men and women constricted and damaged by the conventions of their native land.McGahern was the son of a policeman who had once been a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). While taking evening courses at University College (B.A., 1957) in Dublin, he worked as a teacher. His first published novel, The Barracks (1963), tells of a terminally ill, unhappily married woman. Praised for its brilliant depiction of Irish life and for its..
Spike Milligan, byname of Terence Alan Patrick Sean Milligan, (born April 16, 1918, Ahmadnagar, India--died Feb. 27, 2002, Rye, East Sussex, Eng.), Irish writer and comedian who led the comic troupe featured on the 1950s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) radio hit The Goon Show. His anarchic sense of absurdity and unique comic genius made him a model for succeeding generations of comedians and paved the way for the Monty Python brand of alternative comedy.Milligan was raised in India and Burma (Myanmar), where his father was in the British army, and moved to England with his family in 1933...
Brian Moore, (born Aug. 25, 1921, Belfast, N.Ire.--died Jan. 10, 1999, Malibu, Calif., U.S.), Irish novelist who immigrated to Canada and then to the United States. Known as a "writer's writer," he composed novels that were very different from each other in voice, setting, and incident but alike in their lucid, elegant, and vivid prose.Moore, who was reared as a Roman Catholic, left his homeland after graduating from St. Malachy's College in Belfast. He served in the British Ministry of War Transport during World War II, traveling to North Africa, Italy, and France. In 1948 he went to Canada,..
Dion Boucicault, original name Dionysius Lardner Boursiquot, (born Dec. 26, 1820/22, Dublin, Ire.--died Sept. 18, 1890, New York, N.Y., U.S.), Irish-American playwright and actor, a major influence on the form and content of American drama.Educated in England, Boucicault began acting in 1837 and in 1840 submitted his first play to Mme Vestris at Covent Garden; it was rejected. His second play, London Assurance (1841), which foreshadowed the modern social drama, was a huge success and was frequently revived into the 20th century. Other notable early plays were Old Heads and Young Hearts..
Roddy Doyle, (born May 8, 1958, Dublin, Ireland), Irish author known for his unvarnished depiction of the working class in Ireland. Doyle's distinctively Irish settings, style, mood, and phrasing made him a favourite fiction writer in his own country as well as overseas.After majoring in English and geography at University College, Dublin, Doyle taught those subjects for 14 years at Greendale Community School, a Dublin grade school. During the summer break of his third year of teaching, Doyle began writing seriously. In the early 1980s he wrote a heavily political satire, Your Granny's a..
John Banville, pseudonym Benjamin Black, (born December 8, 1945, Wexford, Ireland), Irish novelist and journalist whose fiction is known for being referential, paradoxical, and complex. Common themes throughout his work include loss, obsession, destructive love, and the pain that accompanies freedom.Banville attended St. Peter's College in Wexford. He began working in Dublin as a copy editor for the Irish Press (1969-83). He was later a copy editor (1986-88) and literary editor (1988-99) for the Irish Times.His first piece of fiction, Long Lankin (1970), is a series of nine episodic..
Joyce Cary, in full Arthur Joyce Lunel Cary, (born Dec. 7, 1888, Londonderry, Ire.--died March 29, 1957, Oxford, Eng.), English novelist who developed a trilogy form in which each volume is narrated by one of three protagonists.Cary was born into an old Anglo-Irish family, and at age 16 he studied painting in Edinburgh and then in Paris. From 1909 to 1912 he was at Trinity College, Oxford, where he read law. Having joined the colonial service in 1914, he served in the Nigeria Regiment during World War I. He was wounded while fighting in the Cameroons and returned to civil duty in Nigeria in 1917 as a..
Robert Graves, in full Robert von Ranke Graves, (born July 24, 1895, London, England--died December 7, 1985, Deya, Majorca, Spain), English poet, novelist, critic, and classical scholar who carried on many of the formal traditions of English verse in a period of experimentation. His more than 120 books also include a notable historical novel, I, Claudius (1934); an autobiographical classic of World War I, Good-Bye to All That (1929; rev. ed. 1957); and erudite, controversial studies in mythology.As a student at Charterhouse School, London, young Graves began to write poetry; he continued..