The Book of Fifty Irish Writers
They were rogues, adventurers, idealists, romantics, shrinking violets, ego maniacs and all the other wonders and failures of human nature besides. The men and women of established Irish Literature were once living, breathing people – ‘The Book of Irish Writers' releases them from their dust jackets and brings them to life!
Through this chronological series of easily digestible short programmes, the listener will be led in a clear and entertaining way through what might be considered by some as a stuffy and academic subject – Irish Literature! By illuminating the lives of our famous and forgotten writers – with all their foibles, weaknesses, triumphs and tragedies unveiled – the series will be a gripping listen for all those who enjoy social history, great characters and a good story!
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Chapter 31 - Oscar Wilde, 1854 - 1900
We all know Oscar Wilde: the wit and dandy who claimed to have put his talent into his work and kept his genius for his life and scandalised society when he was imprisoned for homosexuality.
But as Wilde once said: ...the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everyhting, except what is worth knowing.
So what is worth knowing about Wilde? The whole truth would have to include scholar, political radical, husband and father as well as wit, dandy and homosexual.
Chapter 32 - George Bernard Shaw, 1856 - 1950
Everything about George Bernard Shaw is overwhelming. He lived to be 94 and seemingly never stopped writing - or talking.
By the age of 30 he had written five novels. In the 1980's and '90's he was an influential and prolific critic of music and theatre, but these activities were merely false starts as he went on to become world-famous as a playwright.
Shaw wrote more than 40 plays, along with film scripts and essays. He also made frequent broadcasts - including his farewell to broadcasting on BBC televison on his 90th Birthday. He is also said to have written a quarter of a million letters!
Chapter 33 - Somerville, 1858 - 1949 & Ross, 1862 - 1915
'Somerville and Ross' - best known for their creation of the 'Irish RM' - are always spoken of together because of their long collaboration.
Indvidually they were cousins - Edith Anna Œnone Sommerville and Violet Florence Martin, wo wrote as Martin Ross. Both came from large, landed families which, in the wake of the Famine - and increasing unrest on the land - saw their income from rents declining.
Chapter 34 - W.B. Yeats, 1865 - 1939
To state that W.B. Yeats is Ireland's greatest poet is still to sell him short. He was also a dramatist, essayist, autobiographer and editor.
He also founded and joined numerous mystical, political and literary societies, one of which led to the foundation of the Abbey Theatre, the first national theatre in the English-speaking world.
Chapter 35 - J.M. Synge, 1871 - 1909
John Millington Synge has been called a watcher from the shadows, someone who observes - but never quite fits in.
His greatest work, The playboy of the Western World, caused riots when it was first performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, because of its supposed immorality.
Its basic plot - a stranger enters a house in the country; confusion follows - had already been used by Farquhar, Goldsmith, Boucicault, Wilde, Yeates amd Lady Gregory. Synge's genius as a playwright was to compress the romantic, comedic, political, sexual and tragic aspects of those previous works into one play.