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 41 - C.S. Lewis, 1898 - 1963
Clive Staples Lewis was born in East Belfast in 1898, the son of a solicitor. He would become world famous as C.S. Lewis.
Lewis was a writer and broadcaster on Christian matters, a scholar of medieval and renaissance literature and the creator of a science fiction trilogy.
He was also the friend who who encouraged J.R.R. Tolkein to persevere and complete the 'Lord of the Rings' and is most famous for the seven volumes of books that make up 'The Chronicles of Narnia'.
Chapter 42 - Patrick Kavanagh, 1904 - 1967
Born in townland of Mucker, in Co. Monaghan, the poet and novelist Patrick Kavanagh lived the hard life of a small farmer until he was 35 years old.
He is perhaps best known for writing the poem 'On Raglan Road'.
Kavanagh was contemptuous of Ireland's 'Literary Revival' and its champions - 'Yeats and all that crowd' as he dismissively called them. They regarded the peasant as the upholder of true Irish values. In Kavanagh's writing, the peasent finally answered back!
Chapter 43 - Samuel Beckett, 1906 - 1989
It's appropriate that Samuel Beckett, with his reputation as a bleak and despairing writer, should have been born on Friday the 13th - Good Friday, the 13th of April 1906 to be precise - in Foxrock, Co.Dublin.
Beckett may be the only Nobel Prize winner for literature to be listed in Wisden and to have been awarded the Croix de Guerre for his work for the French Resistance.
Chapter 44 - Louis MacNiece, 1907 - 1963
Louis MacNeice was born in Belfast in 1907. Typically his poetry doesn't just record the fact; it also echoes the sounds of the city:
I was born in Belfast between the mountain and the gantries
To the hooting of lost sirens and the clang of trams.
MacNeice studied classics at Oxford, he was friendly with the poet W.H. Auden and along with other pets, they became known as the 'thirties generation'.
Chapter 45 - John Hewitt, 1907 - 1987
In his time, John Hewitt was central to the intellectual and cultural life of the North of Ireland.
He wrote books about Art in Ulster. He was a writer-in-residence at Queen's University and he published poetry prolifically.
Recognition of Hewitt's talents and wide interests have taken many forms. He was made a freeman of Belfast in 1983. There is a pub named after him - despite his own temperate drinking - and the Summer School named in his honour is now in its 21st year.