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Sam Hanna Bell

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William Crawley | 14:09 UK time, Friday, 16 October 2009

sam.JPGYesterday morning, I took this picture of Nelson McCausland, the Northern Ireland culture minister, unveiling a blue plaque on 2 Crescent Gardens, Belfast, the house where Sam Hanna Bell wrote his debut novel December Bride in 1951. The novel was adapted for the screen by David Rudkin and directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan in 1990.

Sam Hanna Bell -- novelist, folklorist, and broadcaster -- was born on this day in 1909. To mark the centenary of his birth, The Blackstaff Press has published a selection of his writings, edited by his son Fergus, who spoke at yesterday's blue plaque ceremony (and who features in a short film I'll soon present for Festival Nights). That collection includes the radio play West of Derry, East of Eden, which was produced in 1980 by the now very distinguished poet Paul Muldoon. I interviewed Paul this morning in Belfast. In 1980, he was a BBC arts producer; today he is a Pulitzer-prize-winning professor at Princeton University. You can also see that interview with Paul in my Festival Nights film.

Tomorrow, the Linen Hall Library will host the Sam Hanna Bell Centenary Colloquium, with speakers including the novelist Carlo Gébler, the actress Roma Tomelty, and film director Thaddeus O'Sullivan. Tomorrow also sees the launch of a special exhibition at the Library's Vertical Gallery. The exhibition is titled "A Man Flourishing - the Life and Work of Writer and Broadcaster, Sam Hanna Bell, 1909-1990" and is presented by the Linen Hall Library in conjunction with BBC Northern Ireland.


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