Irish Literary Works

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, let’s chat about a few of Ireland’s contributions to the literary world. There are many well-known authors and playwrights of Irish descent. In the interest of limited space, five of the most prominent are mentioned here.

Samuel Barclay Beckett (1906-1989) was a playwright and poet known for a tragicomic style which combined black comedy and gallows humor. He was known as one of the last modernists and awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was part of the French Resistance during WWII and once said that he preferred, “France in war to Ireland in peace”. He translated his work into French and vice versa. His most notable title is Waiting for Godot.

Maeve Binchy (1940 -2012) is a novelist and speaker who was born in Dublin, Ireland. She married children’s author Gordon Snell and authored the popular novels Light a Penny Candle and Circle of Friends. She resided in Dalkey, Ireland.

James Joyce (1882-1941) was considered to be one of the most influential authors of the early 20th century. He wrote Ulysses in 1922 and is famed for perfecting the “stream of consciousness” writing technique. His life and work is celebrated each June 16th in Dublin. Along with writing, he was known for having a fine tenor voice and enjoyed singing.

Bram Stoker (1847-1912) was the business manager of Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre in London for 27 years. He authored several novels and short stories; however is best known for the horror masterpiece Dracula penned in 1897. He married Florence Balcombe, who was previously involved with Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a popular, and somewhat flamboyant, playwright who wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1890 and The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895. He was a spokesman for the 19th century aesthetic movement in England, which advocated art for art’s sake.

The Library currently has copies of works by all of these discussed Irish authors available via inter-library loan. This is a small microcosm of the many interesting Irish writers, both past and present, which have been published.

Happy Reading!