University of Delaware Library

O'Faoláin, Seán, 1900-

Seán O'Faoláin letters to John and Mary Marshall

1930–1958, undated

Descriptive Summary

Identification: MSS 099, F623

Creator: O'Faoláin, Seán, 1900-

Title: Seán O'Faoláin letters to John and Mary Marshall

Inclusive Dates: 1930–1958, undated

Extent: 11 items

Abstract: Ten letters and postcards written by Seán O'Faoláin to John and Mary Marshall and one letter from Mary Marshall.

Language: Materials entirely in English.


MSS 099, F623, Seán O'Faoláin letters to John and Mary Marshall, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.

Shelving Summary

Shelved in SPEC MSS 099


Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library / Newark, Delaware 19717-5267 / Phone: 302-831-2229 / Fax: 302-831-6003 / URL:


Purchase, February 1999.


Processed by Devin Harner, September 1999. Encoded by Debra Johnson, June 2007.

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

Irish author Seán O'Faoláin was born John Francis Whelanon February 22, 1900, in County Cork, Ireland.

In 1918, while a student at University College at Cork of National University of Ireland, O'Faoláin embraced Irish nationalism, joined the Irish Volunteers, and changed his name to its Gaelic equivalent. O'Faoláin fought in the Irish Revolution from 1918–1921, and served as the director of publicity for the Irish Republican Army in 1923. During this period of Irish social and political upheaval O'Faoláin began to write.

He eventually was graduated from the National University of Ireland with a B.A. in 1921, and an M.A. in 1925. From 1927 to 1929 O'Faoláin completed an M.A. at Harvard on a Commonwealth Fellowship to study Yeats's manuscripts. While in Cambridge, O'Faoláin made the acquaintance of John and Mary Marshall. His wife, Eileen, taught elementary school with Mrs. Marshall, and John Marshall was involved in the Mediaeval Academy of America, and with the publication of their journal, Speculum, in Cambridge.

After leaving Harvard, O'Faoláin served as a lecturer in English at Princeton University (1929); Boston College (1929); and St. Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, England (1929–1933) before returning to Ireland.

Both his novels and short stories have received critical acclaim as well as being widely popular. His first published collection of short stories, Midsummer Night Madness and Other Stories (1932), received a Femina Prize nomination in 1932. O'Faoláin continued to compose numerous short stories throughout his life, contributing to journals and popular magazines, such as Colliers, McCall's, and Playboy, and culminating in his Collected Stories in 1980.

In addition to writing short stories and novels, O'Faoláin authored biographies of Eamon de Valera, Constance Markievicz, Daniel O'Connell, Hugh O'Neill, John Henry Newman, as well as his own autobiography titled Vive Moi! (1964). He was also responsible for establishing the Irish journal, The Bell, in 1940, and he worked as its editor until 1945.

Seán O'Faoláin died April 20, 1991, in Dublin, Ireland.


Metzger, Linda (ed.) Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1984. pp. 349 351.

Trosky, Susan M. (ed.) Contemporary Authors. Vol. 134. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1992. p. 377.

Scope and Content Note

Ten letters and postcards in this collection were written by O'Faoláin to the Marshalls from 1930–1958. They include details of O'Faoláin's daily routine and of his current projects, as well as the logistics of the Marshalls' trip to Ireland. An eleventh letter was written by Mary Marshall to her friend "Becky" on 9 January 1934, and includes details of how the Marshalls came to know the O'Faoláins. Widely recognized for his novels and short stories, O'Faoláin filled his writing with images of modern Irish life, examining what it meant to be Irish Catholic. His letters to Marshall address such themes as well.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names
Marshall, John.
Marshall, Mary.
Topical Terms
Authors, Irish--20th century--Correspondence.
Form/Genre Terms

Related Materials in this Repository

This item forms part of MSS 099 Miscellaneous Literary and Historical Manuscripts.

MSS 099, F442 Seán O'Faoláin and Brian Friel letters to Joel Wells

MSS 124 Signatures records

MSS 136 Frank Hugh O'Donnell papers

MSS 141 Seán O'Faoláin letters

Detailed Contents List

Letters to the Marshalls , 1930–1958, undated

Autograph card signed , 1930 June 10   [Box 37 F623]

1 p.

Autograph letter signed , 1930 October 11   [Box 37 F623]

3 pp.

Autograph letter signed , 1930 December 19   [Box 37 F623]

1 p., with envelope

Typed letter signed , 1934 February   [Box 37 F623]

1 p., with envelope

Typed letter signed , [1934] Thursday   [Box 37 F623]

2 pp.

Typed letter signed , 1935 October 1   [Box 37 F623]

4 pp.

Autograph card signed , 1954 July 25   [Box 37 F623]

1 p.

Autograph letter signed , 1958 June 11   [Box 37 F623]

2 pp.

Christmas greeting card , undated   [Box 37 F623]

1 p.

Autograph letter signed , undated   [Box 37 F623]

4 pp.

Letter from Mary Marshall to "Becky"

Autograph letter signed , 1934 January 9   [Box 37 F623]

3 pp.