Literature 20th Century 5

James Joyce by Alex Ehrenzweig  1915 restored
James Joyce by Alex Ehrenzweig 1915 restored. Public Domain

Eilís Dillon These links are presented by the literary estate of Eilís Dillon (1920-1994) one of Ireland’s most distinguished writers. To explore her work, you can focus on her novels, her detective stories and her books for young people. There are education and research resources, a biographical page, quotations from her many excellent reviews, and a bibliography. The Eilís Dillon Irish Writing Pages

Brian Moore (1921–1999) His earliest novels were thrillers, published under his own name and the pseudonyms Bernard Mara and Michael Bryan. Moore’s first novel outside the genre, Judith Hearne, remains among his most highly regarded. It was made into a film, with Dame Maggie Smith playing the lonely spinster who is the book/film’s title character. Several other Moore novels were made into adapted for the screen, including Intent to Kill (1958), The Luck of Ginger Coffey, Catholics, Black Robe, Cold Heaven, and The Statement. He also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain and The Blood of Others, based on the novel Le Sang des autres by Simone de Beauvoir. Wikipedia

Cathal Ó Sándair (1922-1996) Born in Weston-super-Mare, England to an English father and Irish mother, his family moved to Ireland when he was a child. While still a school boy, Ó Sandair published a story in the first issue of the magazine Gael Óg in 1938. His first novel appeared in 1943 and featured Réics Carló, the most famous Irish language detective. Ó Sándairr is reputed to have published 160 books and sold more than 500,000 copies. Wikipedia

Brendan Behan (1923-1964) excellent and very well presented site dedicated to Behan. Includes rare photos, notes on extended Behan family, including a family tree, and an important link to the UK National Archive material on Behan, including British Special Branch covert surveillance, downloadable as pdfs. – Willy Wilson’s Brendan Behan

Hugh Leonard 1926-2009), pseud. of John Keyes Byrne. Prolific, witty Irish playwright, journalist and TV adapter, who enjoyed enormous success on Broadway with his two plays, Da (for which he won a Tony Award), and A Life. Da was made into a movie in 1998, starring Martin Sheen and Barnard Hughes. – The Guardian

Pearse Hutchinson was born in Glasgow in 1927 but his parents moved back to Ireland shortly afterwards. His father was a Dubliner and his mother hailed from Donegal. An inveterate traveller, Pearse Hutchinson has spent time all over Europe: in Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Sweden, England and especially Spain. Pearse writes in English and Irish and is fluent in most European languages. His English-language publisher is The Gallery Press. – Cois Life

Aidan Higgins was born in Celbridge in 1927. Perhaps his best known work is the Novel Langrishe, Go Down (1966) which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Irish Academy of Letters Award and was filmed with a screenplay by Harold Pinter. His three volumes of autobiography, Donkey’s Years, Dog Days and The Whole Hog have been published in one volume, A Bestiary (2004). His other books, which include the Booker-shortlisted Balcony of Europe, Bornholm Night-Ferry, and Scenes from a Receding Past are uncompromisingly original. – Munster Literature Centre

William Trevor was born in Mitchelstown, County Cork, in 1928. His first novel, A Standard of Behaviour, was published in 1958.
He is the acclaimed author of several collections of short stories, and has adapted a number of his own stories for the stage, television and radio. The Children of Dynmouth (1976) and Fools of Fortune (1983) both won the Whitbread Novel Award, and Felicia’s Journey (1994), the story of a young Irish girl who becomes the victim of a sexual sociopath, won both the Whitbread Book of the Year and the Sunday Express Book of the Year awards.– Contemporary Writers, British Council

John MontagueAll during the sixties, Montague continued to work on his long poem, The Rough Field, a task that coincided with the outbreak of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland. A Patriotic Suite appeared in 1966, Hymn to the New Omagh Road and The Bread God in 1968, and A New Siege, dedicated to Bernadette Devlin, which he read outside Armagh Jail in 1970. In 1972, the long poem was finally published by Dolmen/Oxford and Montague returned to Ireland, to live and teach in Cork, at the request of his friend, the composer Seam O Riada. The Rough Field (1972) was slowly recognized as a major achievement.– New York State Writers’ Institute

Brian Friel (1929–) was born in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, and in 1939 moved with his family to Derry. He has published two collections of short stories, A Saucer of Larks and The Gold in the Sea. In 1980, Brian Friel co-founded the Field Day Theatre Company in Derry. He served in the Senate from 1987 to 1989. He has received honorary doctorates from NUI, TCD, DCU, Magee University and Queen’s University. He is an Honorary Fellow of UCD, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Irish Playography

Friel@80 On Brian Friel’s 80th birthday The Irish Times celebrates the life and work of one of Ireland’s foremost playwrights, wih contributions from Thomas Kilroy, Sara Keating, Colm Tóibín and Fintan O’Toole.
The Irish Times

Jennifer Johnston Born in Dublin in 1930, Jennifer Johnston’s first published novel was The Captains and the Kings (1972). Since then, she has published many more novels, including Shadows on our Skin (1977), which was short-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction, and The Old Jest (1979), set in the War of Independence and winning the 1979 Whitbread Novel Award. The Old Jest was later filmed as The Dawning, starring Anthony Hopkins. Contemporary Writers, British Council

John McGahern(1934–2006) Although he had many rivals in the field of short story writing (most notably William Trevor), his novels The Barracks (1963), The Dark (1965), The Leavetaking (1974), The Pornographer (1979), Amongst Women (1990), shortlisted for the Booker prize, and That They May Face the Rising Sun (2002) constitute a portrait of a society moving from insular repression (in the earlier writing) towards freedom and self-confidence (in the latter). The Guardian

James Liddy (1934–2008) Interviewed for Studies in 1996, he said: “I will have to say straight away that being queer, like being Irish and being Catholic, has charted my imagination.” His gay sensibility began to emerge in the poetry collection A Munster Song of Love and War (1971), while his novel Young Men Go Walking (1986) is notable for its open celebration of homosexuality. Salmon Poetry

Thomas Kilroy Thomas Kilroy was born in Callan, Co Kilkenny in 1943. He served as play editor at the Abbey in 1977 and was appointed Director of Field Day Theatre Company in 1988. Kilroy was Professor of English at UCG and has published a number of academic essays and studies. In 1989, he resigned his professorship, to concentrate fully on writing. He is a member of the Royal Society of Literature, the Irish Academy of Letters and Aosdana. – Irish Playography

Tom Murphy (1935–) was born in Tuam, Co. Galway and now lives in Dublin. He has written twenty-five plays and has received numerous awards and nominations, including an Irish Academy of letters award, two Harveys Irish Theatre Awards and an Irish Times/ESB Irish Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award. A major retrospective of his work was presented at the Abbey Theatre in 2001. Irish Playography

A Feminist Reading of the Plays of Tom Murphy The theatre of Tom Murphy over the past thirty six years has been spoken of as a holy theatre, a search for soul in a soulless world, a theatre of the possible, a theatre of the spirit. His language is a search for images, symbols and myths that will enable us to tell the story of who we are. His dramas in many ways function like rituals offering audiences sites of transformation and transportation. His plays are not afraid to risk that transcendent leap out of the banal and ordinary into the extraordinary moments of grace, healing, love, forgiveness. Part II is here –Anne Kelly. Journal of the Irish Theatre Forum

Maeve Binchywas born in County Dublin in 1940, and worked for some years as London Correspondent for The Irish Times, out of which experience she wrote Deeply Regretted By, her RTÉ play for television. Her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, made her famous in the UK and USA. Her novel Circle of Friends was made into a 1995 Hollywood movie starring Chris O’Donnell and Minnie Driver. Maeve Binchy’s Homepage

For further information on Irish Writers see sister site Irish Writers Online.

Irish Writers Online is a no-frills, basic bio-bibliographical database of over 580 Irish writers, and related resources. It is now accessed by students, academics, media and lovers of Irish Literature from all over the world

2 thoughts on “Literature 20th Century 5

  1. Firstly congratulations on a comprehensive and absorbing site. Wonderful stuff.
    Noting the piece on Eilis Dillon, I thought I’d pass on a site recording all editions and translations of her work:

    (There are other sites of interest at

    More useful in general though is:

    which aims to provide a means of accessing and forging connections between many online repositories of irish art and culture. Hope it helps.

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