Edna O’Brien (1930- )

1930- [Josephine Edna; poetry pseud. “Dina Bryan”]; b. 15 Dec., in Drewsborough [Drewsboro] House (‘semi-grandeur’), Tuamgraney, Co. Clare; dg. of Lena and Michael O’Brien - an alcoholic; educ. at Scarriff Nat. School, and Loughrea Convent of Mercy; entered Dublin Pharmaceutical College and worked thereafter briefly as a pharmacist in Dublin, 1948-52; auditioned for travelling theatre in Scarriff, and later went for acting audition to home of Micheál MacLiammóir at Harcourt Tce.; met Ernest Gébler, then recently divorced; Gébler gets beaten up by her father and a priest who travelled to find him on the Isle of Man; m. Gébler, in Blachardstown Church, 12 July 1954; settled with him in Battersea, London (SW20), with whom two children, Carlo [q.v.] and Sasha (an architect); divorced acrimoniously 1964, amid Gébler’s his frequent insistence that he had written her books; fought a custody battle with him for the children;
began writing realistic novels dealing with the story of Caithleen Brady, growing up among the puritanical and hypocritical pressures of rural Ireland in The Country Girls (1960), followed by The Lonely Girl (1962), which was banned in Ireland - and burned in her home-town -causing her to repudiate Ireland at that time, 1962; winner of the Kingsley Amis Award, 1962; issued Girls in Their Married Bliss (1963) - all reprinted as a trilogy in 1986, with an epilogue [Afterword] by O’Brien; issued August is a Wicked Month (1964), a study of a separated woman whose husband and son are killed while she is having a holiday affair in France; maintained a home at 10 Carlyle Square in Chelsea, (London) from 1965 - scene of many celebrity visits (‘a reckless period’);
subject of a support meeting held under auspices of Tuairim in Limerick, organised by John Dillon (Classics, TCD) et al., April 1966; returned to Dublin to attend debate on Irish Censorship at Gate Theatre, where speakers included Micheál Mac Liammóir (Gate), Brendan Kennelly (TCD);, writers James Plunkett and Hugh Leonard with Bruce Arnold and Proinsias Mac Aonghusa, with excerpts from Casualties of Peace being read aloud by actors Maureen Toal and T.P. McKenna; Dec. 1966; a photograph of O’Brien dominated newspaper front-pages (viz., Irish Times); issued A Pagan Place (1970), the second-person story of Emma’s pregnancy and her abuse by family, church (Fr. Declan), and community, returning to the subject-matter of the trilogy; Night (1972) a woman’s reconstruction of her past, written in the second person and implicitly reworking Joyce’s “Penelope”;
The High Road (1988), set on a Spanish island, where a waitress falls in love with the central character, a woman visitor, and is killed by her jealous husband; short story collections incl. The Love Object (1968), A Scandalous Woman (1974), Returning (1982), and Lantern Slides (1988); The Fanatic Heart (1982), a volume of selected stories; interviewed by Donncha Ó Dulaig for RTÉ radio while attending a seminar at UCC on “the State of the Nation”, Jan. 1968; published a miscellany of her writing, Mrs Reinhardt and Other Stories (1978); has written plays and screenplays incl. X, Y and Zee, filmed with Elizabeth Taylor (1972); A Pagan Place, a two-act play, was staged in London and new Haven, Conn. (1972, 1974) and issued by Faber (1973); issued Mother Ireland (1976), a commentary on Ireland, with photographs by Fergus Bourke; served on first panel of BBC Question Time programme, 1979;
Time and Tide (1992) is semi-autobiographical novel in which Nell is forced to leave her cruel husband and wins a custody battle but faces crushing tragedy; befriended Gerry Adams; lent her name to the “Help Salman Rushdie” anti-fatwa campaign in NYReview, 1990; issued House of Splendid Isolation (1994) a novel about the relationship between an IRA-man (McGreevy) on the run and the woman (Josie O’Meara) whose delapidated house he commandeers to hide in; received the Prize of the European Council, formerly awarded to Boulez and Menuhin, 1995; began to visit an Aran Island cottage annually; issued Down by the River (1996), novel concerning concerns father-daughter sexual abuse involving the fictional Mary McNamara, a 14-year girl, and based on the Miss X case that gave rise to a constitutional crisis in 1992 associated with the anti-Abortion Amendment; issued Wild Decembers (1999), a third novel in the trilogy about contemporary Ireland, deals with Joseph Brennan, a west of Ireland farmer, and his killing of a returning neighbour (Bugler) for a piece of land in a recrudescence of Land League passions [a plot comparable to John B. Keane’s The Field]; O’Brien was guest writer at Kerry International Summer School (KISS), 1996;
appt. writer in residence teaching at SUNY (State Univ. of New York), 1997-98, and became a frequent contributor to New Yorker; issued James Joyce (1999); read from her works, being introduced by Thomas Kilroy, TCD Arts Building (9 March 2000); received Literary Award of the Ireland Fund of America, at O’Reilly Hall, 2000; issued In The Forest (2002), a fictional version of the Brendan O’Donnell murders of 1994, set in Cluais Wood, and published in face of opposition from the family of Imelda Riney [here Eily] (victim of the tragedy with her son Liam); long-listed for Orange Award (£30,000); wrote Euripides’ Iphigenia, a commissioned play (Sheffield, Crucible Th., Feb. 2003; dir. Michael Grandage); sometime winner of PEN award for life-time achievement; issued The Light of Evening (2006), an unsettling story in which a daughter, Eleanora, returns home from London to see her mother on her death-bed - rehearsing both their lives and marriages and the mother’s attempt to reclaim her daughter; awarded the UCD Ulysses Medal, 2006; appeared on Desert Island Discs, 14 Jan. 2007;
issued Byron in Love (2009), a compact life; winner of the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement in Literary Ireland Award, presented, with an encomium, by Seamus Heaney, 9 May 2009; she appeared as an extra in church scene of Wild Decembers, filmed in Co. Wicklow, 2009 (prod. Clare Alan); wrote Haunted (Manchester Royal Exchange Th., Gaiety Th., Dublin, Feb 2010), concerning a woman whose husband is fallen in love elsewhere; underwent hip replacement operation, 2010; Country Girls was read on RTÉ, Thurs. 26 March, 2010; her catalogued papers, incl. early journals and typescripts, and a large correspondence, c.1939-2000, were acquired by Emory Library in 2000; a memoir to be published by Faber; Saints and Sinners (2011), stories set in Dublin, London and New York dealing with mother-daughter relationships, family feuds, and the moral bankruptcy of a high-rolling developer in Celtic-tiger Ireland;
issued The Country Girl (2012), an autobiography; Faber issued Selected Stories of Edna O’Brien, with an introduction by John Banville, (2013); elected Tsaoi by Aosdána, Sept. 2105 - receiving an apology from President Michael D. Higgins for the official scorn heaped on her books in Ireland; issued The Little Red Chairs (2015), in which Vladimir Dragan, a Balkan war-criminal, wanted by the international courts, masquerades as a faith-healer in a small west coast Irish village, driving his newly-found lover Fidelma MacBride into to make a journey of discovery to Bosnia-Hercegovina; greeted by Philip Roth as the ‘masterpiece’ of ‘the great Edna O’Brien’; Michael Longley issued a homage collection to O’Brien as Inglenook in 2016; Dublin’s “One City, One Book” Festival featured “An Evening With Edna” in the Round Room of the Mansion House on April 24 2019; issued Girl: A Novel (Sept. 2019), based on Boko Haram abductions in Nigeria; she lives in Chelsea (Knightsbridge), London, and frequently travels to USA; her play, Joyce’s Women, was produced by Abbey Theare during Dublin Th. Festival, Sept-Oct. 2022. DIW DIL OCEL FDA G20 OCIL
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Edna O’Brien - speaking at One City, One Book (Dublin 2019)
‘I worked in Dublin as an apprentice pharmacist from 1948 to 1952, so it’s where I first encountered literature and set out on the very secret and profane matter of writing The Country Girls Trilogy,” she said. “I never dreamed the Trilogy would last so long and make it to this winning post. I am delighted and hope for new readers who won’t have to hide it under the bedcovers as they did in the sixties and onwards ... Dublin has given me longevity.’

For Edna O’Brien” - by Michael Longley
Who call yourself “the other Edna”,
Come visit me at Carrigskeewaun
And help me count the barnacle geese
And whooper swans. Take my hand,
Balance on slippery stepping-stones
Across the channel at Thallabaun,
Walk with me along the yellow strand
Looking out for dolphins in Clew Bay
(A bitch otter may lope from the waves,
Her whiskers glittering with sea water),
Over the stile in your green wellies
Follow me to the helleborines
At Dooaghtry. Later at Corragaun
We’ll make a moth-trap for tiger moths
And cinnabars and wait in darkness
For inspiring wings. I imagine
For you, dear Edna, “the other Edna”,
This inglenook in my landscape.
The Irish Times (8 June 2016) - online; accessed 28.06.2016.

  • The Country Girls (London: Hutchinson 1960; Harmondsworth: Penguin 1963, &c.; Bloomsbury 1995), French trans. as La Jeune Irlandaise (Paris: Julliard 1960).
  • The Lonely Girl (London: Jonathan Cape; NY: Random Hse. 1962), Do., rep. as The Girl With Green Eyes, Penguin 1964), French trans. as Jeune filles seules (Paris: Presses de la Cité 1962).
  • Girls in their Married Bliss (London: Jonathan Cape; NY: Simon & Schuster 1964; Harmondsworth: Penguin 1967).
  • August is A Wicked Month (London: Jonathan Cape; NY: Simon & Schuster 1965; Harmondsworth: Penguin 1967), trans. in French as Le Joli Mois d’Août (Paris: Gallimard 1968).
  • Casualties of Peace (London: Jonathan Cape 1966; NY: Simon & Schuster 1967; Harmondsworth: Penguin 1968).
  • A Pagan Place (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; NY: Knopf 1970; Harmondsworth: Penguin 1971), French trans. as Les Païens d’Irlande (Paris: Gallimard 1973).
  • Night (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1972 [var.1971]; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1973; Harmondsworth: Penguin 1974).
  • Johnny, I Hardly Knew You (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1977), Do., pub. in America as as I Hardly Knew You (NY: Doubleday 1978).
  • Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue (NY: Farrar Straus 1986; London: Jonathan Cape 1987).
  • The High Road (Weidenfeld & Nicolson; NY: Farrar Straus 1988), 180pp. [ded. ’To my grandson Jack Redmond Gébler].
  • House of Splendid Isolation (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1994; Orion 1995), 222pp.; Do. (NY: Plume 1995).
  • Down by the River (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1996), 265pp.
  • Wild Decembers (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1999), 253pp.; Do. (NY: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1999) 259pp. [see extract - attached].
  • In the Forest (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2002), 218pp. [see note].
  • The Light of Evening (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2006), 224pp. [incorporates letters from her mother].
  • The Little Red Chairs (London: Faber & Faber 2015), 299pp.; also US edn. (NY: Little, Brown & Co. 2015) [see extract].
  • Girl: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber; NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2019), 240pp.
Extracts in The New Review, ed. Ian Hamilton

“A Scandalous Woman”, in The New Review (April 1974), pp.25, 27-36; “An Irish Childhood”, in The New Review (Feb. 1976), pp.27-36 [with matching cover-image and prime notice on cover; available at Ian Hamilton website - online; accessed 04.11.2023].

Collected fiction
  • Seven Novels plus Two Collections of Short Stories [Collector’s Choice] (London: Collins 1978), q.pp.
  • The Country Girl (Faber & Faber 2012; pb. 2103), x, 353pp.

There is an audio-disc version of In the Forest (Chivers q.d.), read by Stephen Rea.

Short stories
  • The Love Object and Other Stories (London: Jonathan Cape; NY: Knopf 1968).
  • A Scandalous Woman and Other Stories (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; NY: Harcourt Brace, Jovanovich 1974) [9 stories].
  • Mrs Reinhardt and Other Stories (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1978), Do., pub. in America as A Rose in the Heart (NY: Doubleday 1979) [incl. ‘Clara’; ‘A Woman at the Seaside’; ‘Mrs Reinhardt’; ‘The Connor Girls’; ‘Imelda’; et al.).
  • Returning: A Collection of Tales (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1982).
  • A Fanatic Heart: Selected Stories (NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1984; London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1985) [incl. ‘A Scandalous Woman’, ‘Irish Revel’, ‘The Connor Girls’, ‘The Small-Town Lovers’, et al.].
  • Lantern Slides (NY: Farrar Straus; London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1990), 223pp.
  • Time and Tide (NY & London: Viking 1992), 325pp.
  • The Collected Edna O’Brien (London: Collins 1978) [miscellany].
  • Saints and Sinners (London: Faber & Faber 2011), 208pp.
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  • Mother Ireland (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; NY: Harcourt Brace 1976), ill. by Fergus Bourke [photos].
  • Arabian Days (NY: Horizon Press; London: Quartet 1977) [var. 1978], with photos by Gerard Klijn.
  • James and Nora: A Portrait of Joyce’s Marriage (Northridge California: Lord John Ress 1981).
  • Vanishing Ireland, photographs by Richard Fitzgerald (NY: Potter-Crown 1987).
  • ‘Edna O’Brien’, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl (1986; Mandarin 1990), pp.131-41 [RTÉ copyright 1985].
  • James Joyce (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1999; rep. Phoenix 2000), 190pp. [infra].
  • James and Nora: James and Nora: A Portrait of a Marriage (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson), 62pp,
Stage plays
  • A Cheap Bunch of Nice Flowers [performed London 1962], in Plays of the Year 1962-63 (London: Elek; NY: Ungar 1963).
  • Zee & Co. (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1971).
  • A Pagan Place [prod. London 1972, New Haven, Conn. 1974] (London: Faber & Faber 1973; Washington: Graywolf Press 1984)), adapted from 1970 novel.
  • The Gathering (prod. Dublin 1974; NY 1977).
  • The Ladies (London 1975).
  • Virginia [produced Stratford Ontario, 1980; London and NY, 1981] (London: Hogarth Press; NY: Harcourt Brace 1981).
  • Flesh and Blood (Bath 1985; NY 1986).
  • Madame Bovary [adaptation of Flaubert, 1987].
  • Iphigenia [of] Euripides (Sheffield, Crucible 2002; publ. London: Methuen 2003), vii, 44pp.
  • Byron in Love ( London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2009), 240pp., ill. [+8pp. pls.].


  • X, Y and Zee (1972) [filmed with Liz Taylor] adapted from Zee and Co (19--/-+71 [var.1972]).+
  • he Lonely Girl adaptation of The Girl with Green Eyes (1964).
  • Time Lost and Time Remembered, with Desmond Davis [alt. I Was Happy Here, 1965] (1966), from short story.
  • Andrea Newman’s novel Three Into Two Won’t Go (1968 [var. 1969]), for film.
  • The Tempter, with Others (1975).
  • The Country Girls (1984).
  • The Wedding Dress [TV 1963], publ. in Mademoiselle (NY Nov. 1963).
  • The Keys of the Café (1965).
  • Give My Love Some Pilchards (1965).
  • Which of These Two Ladies is He Married To? (1967).
  • Nothing’s Ever Over (1968).
  • Then and Now (1973).
  • Mrs. Reinhardt (1981), from the story.
  • On the Bone [Greville Press Pamphs.] (Warwick: Greville Press 1989) [qpp.; called ‘thin’; mauve cover]
For children
  • A Christmas Treat (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1982).
  • The Rescue (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1983).
  • The Dazzle (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1981).
  • Tales for the Telling: Irish Folk and Fairy Stories (1987) [var. 1986], ill. Michael Foreman.
  • ‘Dear Mr Joyce’, in John Ryan, ed., A Bash in the Tunnel (Clifton Books 1970), [see extract under Joyce, Commentary, supra].
  • ‘A Reason of One’s Own’, Times Saturday Review (30 Sept 1972) [q.pp.].
  • ‘Mother Ireland’, in Sewanee Review, 84 (1976), pp.34-36 [see extract].
  • James and Nora: A Portrait of Joyce’s Marriage (Northridge, Ca.: Lord John Press 1981), 35pp. [ltd. edn. of 250 num. copies & 26 lettered copies].
  • ‘Why Irish Heroines Don’t Have to Be Good Anymore’, New York Book Review (11 May 1986), p.13.
  • ‘It’s a Bad Time Out There for Emotion’, in New York Times (14 Feb. 1993) [see infra].
  • ‘Joyce’s Odyssey’, in New Yorker [“The Critics’ Series”] (7 June 1999), pp.82-91.
  • review of Brenda Maddox, Georgie’s Ghosts (1999), in New Yorker (27 Sept. 1999), pp.92-98.
  • ‘Forbidden’, in New Yorker [Fiction] (20 March 2000), pp.116-20 [see extract].
  • Contrib. to Danny Morrison, ed., Hunger Strike: Reflections on the 1981 Republican Hunger Strike (Dingle: Brandon Books 2006) [q.pp.].
  • contrib. to Caitriona Moloney & Helen Thompson, eds., Irish Women Writers Speak Out: Voices from the Field, with a foreword by Ann Owen Weekes (Syracuse UP 2003), q.pp.

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Full-length studies
  • Lisa Colletta & Maureen O’Connor, Wild Colonial Girl: Essays on Edna O’Brien (Wisconsin UP 2006), 186pp. [contribs. Wanda Balzano, Kristine Byron, Danine Farquharson, Michael Patrick Gillespie, Sophia Hillan, Rebecca Pelan, Bernice Schrank, Helen Thompson & editors.]
  • Kathryn Laing, Sinead Mooney & Maureen O’Connor, eds., Edna O’Brien: New Critical Perspectives [UCG Conference of 2005] (Dublin: Carysfort Press 2006), 252pp. [.pdf available at Research Gate [online] - or download copy as attached; 23.08.2023].
  • Maureen O’Connor & Lisa Colletta, eds., Wild Colonial Girl: Essays on Edna O’Brien (Madison: Wisconsin UP 2006), 248pp.
  • Amanda Greenwood, Edna O’Brien (Liverpool UP 2005), 128pp. [contests perceptions of O’Brien as a narrow chronicler of women’s inner lives ... patriarchy ...  social and symbolic orders].
  • Berenice Schrank, ed., “Edna O’Brien Special Issue”, The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 22, 2 (Dec. 1996) [see contents].
  • Grace Eckley, Edna O’Brien [Brief Monographs Ser.] (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1974), 88pp. [incl. Selected Bibliography, p.86].
Articles, interviews, reviews
  • Nell Dunn, ‘Edna’, in Talking to Women (London: MacGibbon & Kee 1965), pp.69-107.
  • Bruce Arnold, review of The Lonely Girls [with novels by Jack White], in The Dubliner (July-Aug. 1962) [see extract].
  • Bruce Arnold, ‘Censorship and Edna O’Brien’, in The Irish Times (21 Nov. 1966).
  • Sean McMahon, ‘A Sex by Themselves, An Interim Report on the Novels of Edna O’Brien’, Eire-Ireland 2 (1967), q.p.].
  • Edna O’Brien talks to David Heycock, Listener (7 May 1970), p.616.
  • ‘Dialogue with Edna O’Brien’, in Under Bow Bells: Dialogues with Joseph McCulloch (London: Sheldon Press 1974).
  • William Trevor, “Edna O’Brien”, in: Contemporary Novelists [2nd edition] (London & New York: St James Press [Macmillan], 1976), p.1052.
  • Roy Foster, review of Mother Ireland, in Times Literary Supplement (4 June 1976), p. 673.
  • Richard Eder, review of Mother Ireland by Edna O’Brien, New York Times Book Review (19 Sept. 1976), p.6.
  • John Broderick, review of Mother Ireland, in The Critic, 35 (Winter 1976), pp.72-73.
  • Denis Donoghue, review of Mother Ireland, in New York Review of Books 23 (14 Oct. 1976), p. 12.
  • John Broderick, review of Mother Ireland in The Critic, 35 (Winter 1976), pp.72-73 [see extract].
  • Sean MacMahon, ‘A Sex by themselves: An intermim report on the novels of Edna O’Brien’, in Eire-Ireland (Spring 1967), pp.79-87.
  • Raymonde Popot, ‘Edna O’Brien’s Paradise Lost’, in Patrick Rafroidi & Maurice Harmon, eds., The Irish Novel in Our Time [Cahiers Irlandaises, 4-5] (l’Université de Lille 1976), pp.255-85.
  • Lotus Snow, ‘“That Trenchant Childhood Route?” Quest in Edna O’Brien’s Novels’, in Eire-Ireland ,14, no. 1 (Spring 1979), pp.74-83.
  • Kevin P. Reilly, ‘Irish Literary Autobiography: The Goddesses That Poets Dream Of’, in Éire-Ireland, 16.3 (Fall 1981), pp.57-80.
  • Darcy O’Brien, ‘Edna O’Brien: A Kind of Irish Childhood’, in Thomas F. Staley, ed., Twentieth-century Women Novelists (NJ: Barnes & Noble 1982), pp.179-90.
  • Nuala O’Faolain, ‘Edna O’Brien’, in Ireland Today [Irish na Roinne Gnothai Eachtracha/Bulletin of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs], No. 1,0001 (Sept. 1983), pp.10-13 [see extract]
  • Shusha Guppy, ‘Interview with Edna O’Brien’, in Paris Review, 92 (Summer 1984), pp.22-50 [incls. remarks about her mother’s detestation of books].
  • Donncha Ó Dulaing, ed., Voices of Ireland: Conversations with Famous Irish People from De Valera to Edna O’Brien (Dublin: O’Brien Press/RTÉ 1984) [q.pp.].
  • Philip Roth, ‘A Conversation with Edna O’Brien’, New York Times Book Review (18 Nov. 1984), pp.38-40 [see extract]
  • James Cahalan, Irish Novel (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988), pp.286-89 and passim.
  • ‘Edna O’Brien’, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, ed. John Quinn (1986), pp.131-44.
  • ‘Edna O’Brien’, in Contemporary Novelists, ed. D. L. Kirkpatrick (NY 1986).
  • George Plimpton, ed., Writers at Work “The Paris Review” Interviews [7th ser.] (London: Secker & Warburg, 1986).
  • James M. Haule, ‘Tough Luck, The Unfortunate Birth of Edna O’Brien’, in Colby Library Quarterly, 23, 4 (Dec. 1987), pp.216-24.
  • Peggy [Margaret] O’Brien, ‘The Silly and the Serious: An Assessment of Edna O’Brien’, in Massachusetts Review, 28, 3 (Autumn 1987), pp.474-88.
  • Charles E. Claffey, ‘The Vision of Edna O’Brien’ [interview] Boston Globe (27 Nov. 1988), p.B1.
  • Mary Salmon, ‘Edna O’Brien’, in Contemporary Irish Novelists, ed. Rüdiger Imhof [Studies in English and Comparative Literature, ser. eds. Michael Kenneally & Wolfgang Zach] (Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag 1990), pp.143-58 [see extract].
  • [q.a.] interview in Julia Carlson, ed., Banned in Ireland (Georgia UP; London: Routledge 1990), pp.71-79.
  • Ray Connolly, ‘School was madder than Jean Brodie: Edna O’Brien talks to Ray Connolly’, in The Times Saturday Review [‘A Childhood’, feature-column and interview-article introducing Lantern Slides (23 June 1990), p.62 [see extract].
  • Patricia Craig, ‘Against Ample Adversities’, review of Time and Tide in Times Literary Supplement (18 Sept. 1992), p.23.
  • Rebecca Pelan, ‘Edna O’Brien’s “Stage-Irish” Persona: An “Act” of Resistance’, in The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 19, 1 (July 1993), pp.67-78.
  • Eileen Battersby, interview with Edna O’Brien, in Irish Times ‘“Weekend”’ (12 Sept 1992) [see extract].
  • Rebecca Pelan, ‘Edna O’Brien’s “Stage-Irish” Persona: An “Act” of Resistance’, in Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1 (July 1993), pp.67-85 [available at JSTOR - online].
  • Werner Huber, ‘Myth and Motherland: Edna O’Brien’s Mother Ireland’, in Donald E. Morse, et al., eds,. A Small Nation’s Contribution to the World (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1993), pp.175-82 [incl. bibliography].
  • Kiera O’Harra, ‘Love Objects: Love and Obsession in the Stories of Edna O’Brien’, in Studies in Short Fiction, 10 (1993), pp.317-25.
  • Werner Huber, ‘Myth and motherland: Edna O’Brien’s Mother Ireland’, in cited in Donald E. Morse, et al., eds,. A Small Nation’s Contribution to the World, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1993, pp.175-82.
  • James F. Clarity, ‘Casting a Cold Eye on Irish Life and Death’, [interview] in The New York Times (9 Jan. 1995), ‘Books’, B1 & B6 [see extract].
  • Amanda Graham, ‘The Lovely Substance of the Mother: Food, Gender and Nation in the work of Edna O’Brien’, Irish Studies Review, No. 15 (Summer 1996), pp.16-20.
  • Jeanette Roberts Shumaker, ‘Sacrificial Women in Short Stories by Mary Lavin and Edna O’Brien.’ Studies in Short Fiction 32, 2 (Spring 1995), pp.185-97.
  • Michael Patrick Gillespie, ‘She was too Scrupulous Always: Edna O’Brien and the Comic Tradition’, in The Comic Tradition in Irish Women Writers, ed. Theresa O’Connor (Florida UP 1996), pp.108-23.
  • Nicholas A. Basbanes, ‘O’Brien Writes of Homeland’, in The Gainesville Sun (15 June, 1997) [see extract].
  • James M. Cahlan, Double Vision: Women and Men in Modern and Contemporary Irish Fiction (Syracuse: Syracuse UP 1999), 234pp.
  • Rory Brennan, review of James Joyce (1999), in Books Ireland (Feb. 2000), pp. 17-18 [see extract].
  • Christine St. Peter, ‘Petrifying Time: Incest Narratives from Contemporary Ireland’, in Contemporary Irish Fiction: Themes, Tropes, Theories, ed. Liam Harte, & Michael Parker (London: Macmillan 2000) [see extract].
  • Veronica Lee, ‘O’Brien’: “The Anger of Heaven is Nothing to the Anger of Men” [interview-article on Iphigenia], in The Independent [UK] (9 Feb. 2003).
  • Helen Thompson, ‘Edna O’Brien’, ed., Irish Women Writers Speak Out: Voices from the Field (NY: Syracuse UP 2003), pp.197-205 [interview].
  • Declan Kiberd, ’Growing up Absurd: Edna O’Brien and The Country Girl’, in Munira H. Mutran & Laura P. Z. Izarra, eds., Irish Studies in Brazil [Pesquisa e Crítica, 1] (Sao Paolo: Associação Editorial Humanitas 2005), pp.143-61 [see extract].
  • Anne Enright, ‘Murderous love’ [review of The Light of Evening], in The Guardian ([Sat.] 14 Oct. 2006) [see extract].
  • Thomas Kilroy, ‘Our great teller of the short story’, review of Saints and Sinners by Edna O’Brien, in The Irish Times (12 Feb. 2011), Weekend Review, p.11 [see extract].
  • Ellen McWilliams, ‘Making It Up with the Motherland: Revision and Reconciliation in Edna O’Brien’s The Light of Evening.’, in Women: A Cultural Review, 22:1 (2011), pp.50-68.
  • Tony Murray, ‘Edna O’Brien and the Narrative of Diaspora’, in Irish Studies Review, 21, 1 (Feb. 2013), pp.85-98.
  • Liam Harte, ‘History’s Hostages: Edna O’Brien’s House of Splendid Isolation (1994)’, in Reading the Contemporary Irish Novel (Oxford: Blackwell 2013), pp.151-72 [Chap. 6].
  • Elke D’hoker, ‘Rereading the Mother in Edna O’Brien’s Saints and Sinners’, in Journal of the Short Story/Les cahiers de la nouvelle, No. 63 [Special Issue: 21st Century Irish Short Story] (Autumn 2014), pp.115-130 [available online; accessed 18.09.2019]
  • Julie Myerson, ‘The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien review - a chilling masterpiece’, in the Guardian (8 Nov 2015) [see extract].
  • Bryan Fanning & Tom Garvin, ‘Edna O’Brien, The County Girls (1960) and John McGahern, The Dark (1965)’, in Books That Define Ireland (Sallins: Merrion 2014), Chap. 21.
  • Elke d’Hoker, ‘The Rebellious Daughters of Edna O’Brien and Claire Keegan’, in Irish Women Writers and the Modern Short Story (London: Palgrave 2016) [chap. 4], pp.141-71.
  • [...]
  • Anne Enright, ‘Girl captures what it is to be vulnerable, female and young’, in The Irish Times (7 Sept. 2019) [available online.
  • accessed 18.09.2019].
  • Anthony Cummins, review of Girl: A Novel, in The Guardian (16 Sept. 2019) [available online; accessed 18.09.2019] (‘wonderfully impatient and deft’).
See also
  • Ann Owens Weekes, ‘Figuring the Mother in Contemporary Irish Fiction’, in Contemporary Irish Fiction. Themes, Tropes, Theories, ed. Liam Harte & Michael Parker. (London: Macmillan 2001), pp.100-25.
  • Anne Fogarty, ‘Mother-Daughter Relationships in Contemporary Irish Women’s Fiction’, in Writing Mothers and Daughters: Renegotiating the Mother in Western European Narratives by Women, ed. Adalgisa Giorgio [Bath Univ.] Oxford: Berghahn 2002), pp.85-118.
  • Loredana Salis, ‘Edna’s Euripides: Ritual and Language in Edna O’Brien’s Iphigenia’ [PhD. diss. UUC] (2004) [see long extract - as attached].
  • Aveen McManus, “Narratives of Childhood - A Comparative Study” (MA Diss., Univ. of Ulster 2005) [with Mary Costello, Frances Molloy, Jennifer Johnston, David Park, Glenn Patterson, Seamus Deane, Patrick MacCabe].
  • Heather Ingman, Twentieth-Century Fiction by Irish Women: Nation and Gender (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).
  • [...]
  • Lara Marlowe, interview with Edna O’Brien on staging of James Joyce’s Women, in The Irish Times (17 Sept. 2022) [see extract]
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RTÉ interviews
  • RTÉ1 interview Miriam O’Callaghan (Sunday, 7 Feb. 2010): interviews writer Edna O’Brien and actor Niall Buggy [see extract].
  • RTÉ1 interview with Donal O’Donoghue, during week of 13-19 Feb. 2010.
  • RTÉ1 interview with Gabriel Byrne, on “The Meaning of Life”, RTE (21 Feb. 2010) [see reports by Lynne Kelleher, in RICORSO Library “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct (1) & (2)].
Irishman’s Diary on Edna O’Brien
  • Ray Burke. ‘Sense and censorship: An Irishman’s Diary on Edna OöBrien’, “Irishman’s Diary”, in The Irish Times ([Mon] 5 Nov. 2018) - available online.
  • John Horgan, ‘Edna O’Brien and some fiery critics: A meeting to remember’, in The Irish Times ([Mon.] 16 Nov. 2015) - available online.
NPR (US Radio)
  • Edna O’Brien: ‘Country Girl: On A Lifetime Of Lit, Loneliness And Love’ (25 April 2013) [wesbite contains extension excerpts from the interview - as infra].

Papers of Edna O’Brien: Holdings in Emory University Library
  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1939-2000 [listing].
  • Series 2: Journals, 1951-1999.
  • Series 3: Writings by O’Brien, ca. 1953-1999.
  • Series 4: Writings by others.
  • Series 5: Subject files, 1944-1999.
  • Series 6: Printed material, 1958-1999.
  • Series 7: Audio-visual material.
  • Series 8: Ephemera, 1944-1999.
  • Series 9: Collected material, 1971-1979.
See Catalogue, copy or online.

Bibliographical details

Berenice Schrank, ed., “Edna O’Brien Special Issue”, The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 22, 2 (Dec. 1996) - CONTENTS: Sandra Manoogian Pearce, An Interview with Edna O’Brien [pp.5-8]; Maureen L. Grogan, ‘Using Memory and Adding Emotion: The (Re)Creation of Experience in the Short Fiction of Edna O’Brien’ [pp.9-19]; Bernice Schrank & Danine Farquharson, Object of Love, Subject to Despair: Edna O’Brien’s ‘The Love Object” and the Emotional Logic of Late Romanticism [pp.21-36]; Rachel Jane Lynch, ‘“A Land of Strange, Throttled, Sacrificial Women”: Domestic Violence in the Short Fiction of Edna O’Brien” (pp.37-48); Rebecca Pelan, ‘Edna O’Brien’s “World of Nora Barnacle”’ [pp.49-61]; Sandra Manoogian Pearce, ‘Redemption through Reconciliation: Edna O’Brien’s Isolated Women’ [pp.63-71]; Bonnie Lynn Davies, ‘Re-Constructing the Brick Wall of Phallocentric Dis-Course: Nell Finds Her (M)Other Tongue in Edna O’Brien’s ‘Time and Tide”‘ [pp.73-81]; Lorna Rooks-Hughes, ‘The Family and the Female Body in the Novels of Edna O’Brien and Julia O’Faolain’ [pp.83-97]; Dawn Duncan, ‘Edna O’Brien and Virginia’ [pp.99-105]; Edna O’Brien Bibliography [pp.107-16] (Available at JSTOR - online; accessed 18.09.2019.]

[See separate file - infra]

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[See separate file - infra]

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, selects “Number 10”, from Mrs Reinhardt and Other Stories [1043-46]; BIOG, 1134, [FDA COMM as supra]

Elaine Showalter, A Literature of their Own (1984), , Bio-note: 1936- in b. Co. Clare; trained at Pharmaceutical College, Dublin; m. Ernest Gebler in 1962, divorced; two children; first novel, The Country Girls (1960).

A. N. Jeffares & Anthony Kamm, eds., An Irish Childhood, An Anthology (Collins 1987), contains excerpt;

Shena Mackay, Such Devoted Sisters: An Anthology of Stories (Virago 1994), selects ‘Irish Revel’. See also Patricia Craig, ed., The Oxford Book of Modern Women’s Stories (1995), 538pp.

Kevin Rockett, et al., eds, Cinema & Ireland (1988), lists The Country Girls (1983), being a film of Edna O’Brien’s The Lonely Girl), also discusses financing of same, p.125, n59; Anthony Slide, The Cinema and Ireland (1988), discusses The Lonely Girl (1962), filmed 1964, with Rita Tushingham, Peter Finch, and Lynn Redgrave, as the directorial debut of Desmond Davies (p.66); also I Was Happy Here (1965), based on Edna O’Brien story and dir. Davies (p.112).

Helena Sheehan, Irish Television Drama: A Society and Its Stories (RTE 1987), lists TV film, A Cheap Bunch of Nice Flowers, dir Shelah Richards (1975); also Irish Revel, dir Deirdre Friel (1975).

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Beckettian: Mother Ireland (1976) takes its epigraph from Samuel Beckett’s Malone Dies: ‘Let me say before I go any further that I forgive nobody. I wish them all an atrocious life and then the fires and ice of hell and in the execrable generations to come an honoured name.’

Photo-portrait of O’Brien in London in 1971 is to be found in John Minihan, An Unweaving of Rainbows: Images of Irish Writers (London: Souvenir Press 1998), 128pp.

Peter Connolly: Interview with Julia Carlson, ed., Banned in Ireland (Georgia UP; London: Routledge 1990), pp.71-79, cites Sean McMahon, ‘A Sex by Themselves, An Interim Report on the Novels of Edna O’Brien’, Eire-Ireland, 2 (1967), which includes an account of Peter Connolly’s defence of Edna O’Brien at a public meeting in Limerick 1966.

Intertextualities: ‘[T]the ground easing back up, gorse prickles on her scalp and nothing ever the same again and a feeling as of having half-died.’ (Down by the River, p.5-6; as in Quotations, supra.) There is a definite precedent for the phrase ‘nothing ever the same again’ in Frank O’Connor’s “Guest of the Nation” - which itself is reputedly an echo of Gogol. Note also the echo of Joyce’s snow scene at the end of “The Dead”, noted by Maria Alvarez [supra].

Mr. Gentleman: Seán MacBride is rumoured to be the model for the man who catches up Caithleen  in the early Country Girls novels. (See Rory Brennan, review of That Day’s Struggle, in Books Ireland, Summer 2006, p.144.)

Controversy: The Forest (2002), a novel concerning Brendan O’Donnell’s the murder of Imelda and Liam Riney and Fr Joe Walsh in Co. Clare in 1994, met with the opposition of the family of Ms. Riney’s family.

The House of Splendid Isolation (1996): The credit for coining the phrase ’splendid isolation’ - used in 19th century British diplomacy - is contested betweeen Viscount George Goschen, Lord of the Admiralty and then Exchequer for Lord Salisbury in the 1880s-90s and John Eusal Foster, a Canadian MP in Toronto who is said to have endorsed the policy of Lord Salisbury in 1886. (See Wikipedia entries on ‘Splendid Isolation’ and Goschen.

Non-isolationist: Edna O’Brien described Gerry Adams in one American paper as ‘thoughtful and reserved, a lithe, handsome man [...] Given a different incarnation in a different century, one could imagine him as one of those monks transcribing the gospel into Gaelic.’ (See James Adams, ‘Kneecapped!: How Gerry Adams’ US visit crippled the special relationship’, Sunday Times, 6 Feb. 1994, pp.10-11.) See also Edna O’Brien, report on Gerry Adams, in Irish Independent (Sat., 5 Feb. 1993) and Books of the Year [notices], Irish Times “Weekend” (30 Nov. 2002), portrait-caption: ‘her novel, In the Forest, is “well-written and riveting”, says Gerry Adams’.

In the Forest (2002): David Godwin, Edna O’Brien’s literary agent, wrote in response to Fintan O’Toole’s remarks, affirming: ‘[i]n all my dealings with Edna O’Brien over the many years I have represented her, I have never doubted for a minute that the sole imperative behind her books is the urge to write; and I find Fintan O’Toole’s insinuation that it might be anything other than that offensive. For the record, In the Forest was written by Edna O’Brien and then sold. It was not commissioned. In my opinion, of all Edna O’Brien’s novels to date, it is this one that will prove to possess the greatest delicacy and integrity’ [David Godwin Associates /London.] (Irish Times, 9 March 2002, “Letters”.) O’Toole had written that, in view of the novel’s relation to the death of Imelda Riley, her son Liam and Fr. Father Joe Walsh. O’Brien had ‘crossed the boundary into private grief’ (Irish Times, 2 March 2002). See also remarks in Rebecca Pelan, “Reflections on a Connemara Dietrich”, in Kathryn Laing, et al., eds., Edna O’Brien: New Critical Perspectives, Carysfort Press 2006).

In the Forest (2) : ‘One of the victims of a paedophile priest unmasked by the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh, last weekend, was triple murderer Brendan O’Donnell, a new book is to reveal. [...] O’Donnell was convicted of the murders in 1996 and died one year later, at the Central Mental Hospital, following an overdose. He was 23.’ (Irish Times report, 25 July 2004.) The report names Fr. Tom McNamara as the abuser-priest and Ms Imelda Riney, her three-year old son Liam and Father Joe Walsh as O’Donnell’s victims.

The Light of Evening (2006) - From her hospital bed in Dublin, the elderly Dilly awaits the visit of her daughter, Eleanora, from London. The epochs of her life pass before her; emigrating to America in the 1920s, a romantic liaison she had there, the destiny that brought her back to Ireland, and her marriage into the stately Rusheen. She also retraces Eleanora's precipitate marriage to a foreigner, and Dilly's heart-rending letters sent over the years in a determination to reclaim her daughter. Unfortunately, Eleanora's visit does not prove to be the glad reunion that it might have been ... . (See Google Books - online; accessed 22.09.2019.)

Haunted (2010): Directed by Braham Murray and brought to the stage by Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, with Brenda Blethyn as a woman with a dilemma whose her husband is secretly giving her clothes to a market stallholder who happens to be an attractive, younger woman. Hauntedis a three-hander, with Blethyn as the wife, Niall Buggy as the husband and Beth Cooke as the new object of his affections. Ran at the Gaiety until 13 February 2010. (See RTÉ, The View, online; 25.03.2010.)

Desert Island Discs (BBC4, 14 Jan. 2007): Speaking with the interviewer Kirsty Young, O’Brien gavea frank account of her troubles with Gebler, her gaining custody of her children due to the fairness of the judge and in face of opposition from laity and clergy, and her life as a writer. She professed, inter alia, that she was good at writing not at living. By way of music she selected “Fairy Tale of New York” (Pogues) and Mozart’s Requiem. Her desert island disc was the “The Foggy, Foggy Dew” sung by Sinead O’Connor and her book, Ulysses.

Wild Decembers (2009) - the movie: Wild Decembers was filmed in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, in 2008, being directed by Anthony Byrne, with Owen McDonell, Matt Ryan, and Lara Belmont; also Sean McGinley, Kristin Kapelli, Pauline Cadwell, Jane Brennan and Andrea Irvine in various parts. The producer is Clare Alan. Failure to secure funding from the Irish Film Board resulted in a cut-down version scheduled as a feature-drama for RTÉ in autumn 2009. O’Brien appears as an extra in a church scene. (See ‘Why we’ll all be taking dramatic licence in ’09’, in Irish Independent, 15 Dec. 2008; online - accessed 25.03.2010).

Dates query: m. 1954 but moved to London, 1959 [var. 1958]; variously given as moved to London 1954 on Infoplease.com (Liverpool Univ.) [link].

House for sale: The five-bedroom Drewsborough House in the east Clare village of Tumgraney which was the childhood home of Edna O’lBrien was withdrawn from auction yesterday €150,000 short of its guide price - which was set at The guide price had been set at €350,000. (See Irish Independent, 2 July 2014 - online.)

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