Special Collections Department
Frank J. Hugh O'Donnell
Manuscript Collection Number: 136
Accessioned: Purchase, 1977
Extent: 1.3 linear ft.
Content: Letters, essays, reviews (criticism), programs, speeches, notes, poems, clippings, pamphlets, tickets, painitngs, broadsides, prospectuses, and playbills
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Preliminary processing in 1979, completed 1993 by Anita A. Wellner
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
As a young man, Irish businessman and amateur playwright Frank J. Hugh O'Donnell was noted for his political efforts on behalf of an Irish Free State while a member of the Senate in 1943-1944, 1951, and 1954. He was later recognized for his plays, which depicted Irish life and political struggles, and for his promotion of Irish commerce.
As the successful owner of the Dublin Shirt and Collar Industries, O'Donnell was a frequent and eloquent speaker on topics related to the Irish economy and the development of Irish industry. O'Donnell encouraged investments in Irish enterprises, advocated a scheme for national advertising of Irish products, and championed a Federation of Irish Industries. His speeches discussed the Irish problems of massive emigration and the neglect of industrial development, while encouraging the Irish to think nationally and to purchase Irish products.
As an amateur playwright, O'Donnell was mentored by his friend, Abbey playwright T. C. Murray. O'Donnell was most often recognized by his contemporaries as "being Ireland's most banned playwright" (The Irish Press, October 15, 1945). Both his O'Flaherty's Star (1945), and The Dawn-Mist: a play of the rebellion (1922) were banned by the British government for political reasons.
O'Donnell's first play, produced by Abbey Theatre, was The Drifters (1920). Although the critics found the two-act play unsuccessful, the Abbey later produced O'Donnell's Keeper of the Lights and Anti-Christ (1925).
In addition to plays, O'Donnell wrote articles on foreign politics for Irish and British newspapers, as well as creating poetry and short stories.
In addition to his literary, business, and political achievements, O'Donnell was recognized as one of Dublin's most successful collectors of modern paintings and as an active member of the Irish Literary Society (London) and the Dublin Rotary Club. O'Donnell also worked for years on plans for an Irish Federation of Amateur Dramatic Societies and a National Drama Festival.
Frank Hugh O'Donnell died on November 4, 1976 at his residence, Vartry Lodge,Killiney, County Dublin.
Sources:Hogan, Robert and Richard Burnham. The Art of the Amateur 1916-1920. The Modern Irish Drama V. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1984. pp. 239-241, 250-255, 278.
Note: Biographical information is also derived from the collection.
Scope and Content Note
The letters written to O'Donnell and collected in Series I. communicate O'Donnell's interests in the business world, especially in seeking foreign commerce for the Irish economy and the establishment of the Federation of Irish Industries, Inc.; his efforts to acquire performances of his plays; and his influence in Irish politics. The collection includes letters from managers of Irish theatres; Irish playwrights, artists, and literary figures; as well as businessmen and friends.
Some of the letters convey O'Donnell's interest in amateur drama leagues, such as his correspondence with J.J. Hayes, who assisted in founding The Little Theatre of Newark, (NJ) Inc. and the Drama Guild of the Oranges (NJ). Enclosed in the Hayes letters are eight programs for The Little Theatre of Newark.
In other letters, O'Donnell discusses the establishment of the Drama League of Dublin, his participation in the Dublin Rotary Club and the Irish Literary Society, his support of Catholic charities and Irish theatres, his interest in modern painters, and his overriding desire to promote the Irish national identity and economy of the Irish Free State.
Among the correspondents are noted literary figures including Austin Clarke, Denis Ireland, Edward Martyn, Sean O'Casey, Lennox Robinson, and W. B. Yeats. The nine letters from Yeats are particularly interesting, in that they demonstrate Yeats's helpful approach to the problems of the amateur playwright.
The copies of letters drafted by O'Donnell contain discussions of Irish independence and the political situation in Ireland, details of his attempts to find jobs for others, reflections on his marriage, and arrangements for speaking engagements. The drafts of two letters to Irish President de Valera reflect his concerns for the Irish State.
Among the manuscripts written by O'Donnell which are preserved in these papers are examples of O'Donnell's essays, short stories, poetry, addresses, and reviews. Although there are performance notes for The Dawn-Mist and Keeper of the Lights and a synopsis of a play titled Deirdre, no manuscripts of his plays are present. The essays reflect his interests in the theatre and politics and several of the manuscripts bear O'Donnell's pseudonyms, "Thomas Oriel," "Marcus Kinstone," and "Mans Cloonan."
The papers also include four manuscripts written by others, two of which are speeches on business topics. Patrick Sarsfield O'Hegarty's review of O'Donnell's play Futility and Frederick Robert Higgins's poem "Invocation" complete the series. In addition, a typescript of Constance de Markieviecz's play The Invincible Mother is enclosed in her letter to O'Donnell (F32) and Edward Martyn's autograph article, "Astraea Redux," is enclosed in one of his letters (F33).
Finally, the papers include several miscellaneous items relating to O'Donnell, including an Abbey Theatre placard for O'Donnell's play Anti-Christ, clippings about O'Donnell (especially his speeches and plays), a copy of The College Songs (1912), a passenger list for a 1923 cruise on the "President Monroe" (which lists O'Donnell), pamphlets concerning the Irish Literary Society, two unidentified watercolor paintings, a broadside titled "A Few 'Bars' on the 'Grate,'" as well as several tickets, prospectuses, and tear sheets.
Page I. Letters to Frank Hugh O'Donnell, 1911-1974 8 II. Manuscripts written by O'Donnell, 1920-1926 14 III. Manuscripts written by others, 1923-1944 16 IV. Miscellaneous material relating to O'Donnell, 1911-1945 16
1 Series I. Letters to Frank Hugh O'Donnell, 1911-1974 Includes some copies of letters from O'Donnell to others. All letters are written to O'Donnell unless otherwise noted. F1 Agate, James, 1877-1947 1925 Jan 26 ALS 2p Note: Includes an ALS (1925 Jan 28) from O'Donnell to Agate and a TL (carbon) draft of this letter. F2 Bradley, H. Dennis, 1878- 1924-1926 Letters 16p F3 Brennan, Robert, 1881-  TN 1p Note: Signed Robert O'Breandain and includes a letter from O'Donnell. 1928 Sep 26 TLS 1p F4 Browne, Maurice, 1881- To DeLeon, Jack 1929 Feb 19 TNS 1p To O'Donnell, Frank J. Hugh 1929 Feb 11 TNS 1p F5 Byrne, Laurence P. 1925 Oct 2 TLS 1p Nov 17 TLS 1p Note: This TLS is added to a TL from the Sunday Times to Byrne. F6 Casson, Lewis, T. 1925 Letters 2p Note: Includes copies of O'Donnell's two letters in reply to Casson. F7 Clarke, Austin, 1896-1974 1938 Jun 20 TLS 1p 1944 Nov 6 TLS 1p 1945 May 20 TLS 1p Note: Includes information reagrding Lyric Theatre Company. [1953 Jan 11] ALS 1p F8 Columbus, Father 1925-1926 Letters 4p Note: One of the letters is addressed to a Mr. Murray. F9 Costello, John A. 1949 Dec 5 TNS 1p 1950 Nov 20 TNS 1p F10 Costello, Thomas B. 1935 Sep 30 ALS 2p Note: Includes labels of the Tuam Match Factory and a bank note. Oct 25 ALS 3p F11 De Blacam, Aodh, 1891-1951 1919 Oct 20 ALS 6p Oct 30 ALS 1p F12 De Leon, Jack 1928 Nov 5 TLS 1p Note: Includes a copy of "Q" Theatre Gazette (April 1929) edited by De Leon F13 Doyle, John B. 1922 Jul 21 TLS 2p F14 Duffy, Bernard, 1882- 1923-1929 Letters 15p F15 Fallon, Gabriel 1973 Sep 9 ALS 1p Dec 18 ALS 1p F16 Fallon, Padraic, 1905- 1954 Jun 9 ALS 3p Jun 22 ALS 3p F17 Gallagher, H. T. 1941-1950 Letters 8p Note: Includes a broadside concerning the Social Credit Party. F18 Gould, Elizabeth Finlayson 1925 Jul 24 ALS 3p 1926 Aug 29 ALS 2p Oct 8 ALS 4p F19 Harris, Frank P., 1835-1931 1923 Jan 22 ALS 2p Jan 28 ALS 2p F20 Hayes, J. J. -21 1922-1924 Letters 38p Note: F21 includes 8 programs for The Little Theatre of Newark, Inc. (Orange, NJ), a copy of Drama Calendar (9/24/1923), and material concerning The Drama Guild of the Oranges, for which Hayes was the secretary. F22 Hayward, H. Richard 1926 Jun 30 TLS 1p F23 Hennessy, Patrick 1951 Oct 7 ALS 1p 1954 Feb 1 ALS 1p Note: Includes exhibition catalogue of Hennessy's paintings (1953). Mar 1 ALS 2p F24 Ireland, Denis, 1894- 1938-1974 Letters 11p F25 Kelly, Francis C. 1926 May 20 TLS 1p Note: Includes two letters from O'Donnell to Kelly and to Extension Magazine. F26 Killanin, Michael Morris, Baron, 1914- 1949 Nov 15 ALS 2p Nov 29 TL(m)S 2p Note: Includes a list of equipment for the Irish Club in London. Dec 1 ALS 1p [1949 Dec 26] ACS 1p F27 Krause, David, 1917- 1963 Jul 23 TLS 1p Note: Includes two theatre programs for Sean O'Casey plays. 2 F28 MacBride, Sean 1947-1951 Letters 6p Note: Includes an ALS and a TL from Gallagher to O'Donnell and a clipping concerning MacBride (1974). F29 MacDermott, Norman 1928-1953 Letters 20p F30 MacManus, Lily 1925 Dec 3 ALS 1p 1926 Dec 16 ALS 5p F31 Malleson, Lady Constance [1935 Oct 11] TL 1p Note: Includes a TL (mimeograph) with autograph corrections to the editor of the Times, concerning mental hospitals and the mental clinic movement. F32 Markieviecz, Constance Georginia, de, 1868-1927 1925 Jan 20 ANS 1p Note: Includes a Ts of Markieviecz's play "The Invincible Mother." F33 Martyn, Edward, 1859-1923 -34 1918 Sep 14 ALS 2p 1919 Nov 8 ACS 1p 1921 Mar 26 ALS 1p Note: Includes an autograph article titled "Astraea Redux," signed by Martyn. Also included in this folder are an O'Donnell Ts titled "Edward Martyn" (8p) and a Ts agreement between Martyn and the Irish Little Theatre. F34 includes clippings about Martyn. F35 Mitchell, Susan L., 1866-1926 1920 Dec 28 ALS 2p 1925 Dec 11 ALS 2p Note: Includes a copy of The Irish Home Journal (February 1923). F36 Moore, Maurice 1935 Feb 8 ALS 2p Note: Includes Ts (mimeograph) document titled "The Irish Chamber for International Trade." F37 Murphy, Thomas, 1935- 1974 Dec 15 ALS 1p F38 Nelsey, R. C. 1928 Feb 27 ACS 2p Mar 26 ALS 4p 1929 Feb 12 ALS 4p Note: Includes a letter to Nelsey. F39 O'Casey, Sean, 1880-1964 1925 Mar 26 ALS 1p 1930 Sep 24 ALS 3p 1953 Jan 23 TLS 1p Feb 14 TLS 1p [1954 Jun 1] CS 1p 1954 Dec 28 ALS 2p 1960 May 5 ALS 2p F40 O'Donnell, Frank Hugh To Armstrong, William 1926 Jun 16 TL 2p To Bierne, Miss 1921 Jan 26 TLS 1p Mar 30 ALS 3p To de Valera, Eamonn, 1882-1975 1932 Feb 22 AL 3p 1935 Jun 11 ALS 3p To Shepherd, O. B. 1932 Sep 27 ALS 2p To The Evening Herald [1926 Mar 9] ALS 2p To Unidentified 1926 Mar 9 ALS 2p [n.d.] AL 1p To Walsh 1941 Feb 17 TL 5p F41 O'Donnell, Frank Hugh To O'Donnell, Maureen (Mrs. Frank J. Hugh) 1935 Aug 5-16 Letters 21p F42 O'Donnell, Mrs. (mother of Frank J. Hugh) [n.d.] ALS 4p F43 O'Donnell, Peadar 1917 Oct 24 ANS 1p Note: Editor of The Bell. F44 O'Faolain, Sean, 1900- 1943 Mar 3 TLS 1p Apr 21 TL 1p F45 O'Hegarty, Patrick Sarsfield, 1879-1955 1922-1929 Letters 12p Note: Includes an ALS from O'Donnell to O'Hegarty and one page of proof signed by O'Hegarty. F46 O'Lochlainn, Colm 1945 Jul 23 TNS 1p F47 O'Neil, Peggy 1925-1927 Letters 9p Note: One letter is addressed to Mr. Pinker. F48 Pim, Herbert Moore, 1883- 1918 Feb 22 ALS 2p F49 James B. Pinker & Sons 1925-1926 Letters 34p Note: Includes two O'Donnell letters to Eric S. Pinker and a copy of a letter from Agatha Bullitt Grabisch to Pinker. 3 F50 Robinson, Lennox, 1886-1958 1943 Feb 25 TLS 1p Apr 20 TLS 1p  Nov 11 ANS 1p Note: Includes a receipt for O'Donnell. F51 Robinson, Percy 1928-1930 Letters 8p F52 Sinclair, Arthur 1917 Apr 16 ALS 1p 1919 Jun 16 ACS 1p F53 Skeffington, Hanna Sheehy 1919-1944 Letters 14p F54 Taft, William H., III., 1915- 1953 Jun 26 TLS 2p F55 Tuohy, Patrick 1926 Sep 22 ALS 1p [n.d.] ALS 1p F56 Ustinov, Peter 1953 Jul 16 ALS 1p F57 Wallworth, H. M. 1919 Sep 23 ALS 2p 1925 Nov 25 ALS 2p F58 Waters, B. Berthon 1945 Jul 31 ALS 1p Note: Includes two copies of the newspaper Irish People (Nos. 1 & 53), which have been removed to the oversize section. 1948 Jun 1 ALS 1p Jun 16 ALS 3p F59 Wheatley, John, 1869-1930 1924 Mar 6 TLS 1p F60 Winslow, Herbert Hall 1925-1926 Letters 7p Note: Includes a newspaper clipping concerning Winslow's film about Ireland titled Land of Her Fathers. F61 Yeats, Georgie, d. 1968  Aug 14 ALS 3p 1957 Oct 10 ALS 1p Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939 1918 Oct 31 ALS 1p Note: Letter was dictated.  Mar 7 ANS 1p  Apr 25 ALS 2p  Aug 28 ALS 2p  Sep 19 ALS 2p Note: Envelope bears autograph note by Yeats. 1919 Sep 19 Telegram 1p Note: Autograph copy of a telegram from Yeats.  TLS 1p 1921 Mar 24 LS 1p Note: Dictated letter, signed by Yeats.  Nov 16 ALS 3p F62 Young, Elizabeth [n.d.] ALS 4p [n.d.] ALS 4p Miscellaneous Letters, 1918-1954 F63 1918-1925 F64 1925-1954 F65 [n.d.] 4 Series II. Manuscripts written by O'Donnell, 1920-1926 F66 "Afterthoughts," [n.d.] Typescript essay, which bears autograph corrections and is signed by O'Donnell as "Marcus Kinstone." Page one is torn and part of the text is missing, 2p. F67 "The American Japanese Question," [n.d.] Autograph essay, signed "by Hugh Francis," 5p. F68 "The Dawn-Mist and Keeper of the Lights [Notes]," 1920 Oct 30 Autograph performance notes for The Dawn-Mist and Keeper of the Lights, which is signed by O'Donnell, 1p. F69 "Deirdre," [n.d.] Autograph synopsis of a play, 1p. Removed to oversize section. F70 "The Drama & Ourselves: a Natural Repertory Movement," 1926 Apr 9 Autograph address, which bears revisions, 10p. F71 "The Draper's Assistant," [n.d.] Autograph short story, which bears revisions and is signed by O'Donnell as "Thomas Oriel," 3p. F72 "God Save the Press," [n.d.] Autograph "idea for an opera," 2p. F73 "High Heels," [n.d.] Two typescript copies of the same essay, with the autograph note of page 3: "If not suitable please return to Frank Hugh O'Donnell, 5 Castle Market Dublin." Bears the typescript signature, "Mans Cloonan," 6p. F74 "If Winter Comes...?" [n.d.] Typescript review of actor Owen Nares performance in "If Winter Comes," 3p. F75 "John McCormick - An Appreciation," 1924 Aug 10 Autograph essay with revisions, 7p. F76 Poems, 1922-1925 "The Doughboy's Lament" and "An Ulster Dame's Reply," [n.d.], Ts (carbon), both on same page, 1p. "Eve," 1922 Sep 7, Autograph, initialed by O'Donnell, 1p. "The owld blackthorn," [n.d.], Typescript with autograph revisions and signed, 2p. "Retrospect," [n.d.], Autograph, 1p. "To the Memory of the Countess Markieviecz," [n.d.], Autograph and signed, 2p. "The White Commander," 1925 Nov 26, Autograph, initialed by O'Donnell, 2p. F77 "Romance and Homespuns, Headwaggers and Pessimists," [n.d.] Autograph essay, which bears revisions and a note requesting return of the manuscript to O'Donnell and is signed "Marcus Kinstone," 4p. F78 "To the Americans," 1923 Jul 27 Autograph essay, signed, 3p. F79 "A Wizard in Petticoats," [n.d.] Typescript short story, bearing a few autograph corrections, a note to return to O'Donnell, and the typescript signature "Hugh Francis," 3p. F80 Untitled essays, 1921 Dec 5 and [n.d.] Includes a typescript essay concerning "the art of being miserable" (2p) and an autograph essay concerning Irish President de Valera (4p, incomplete). Series III. Manuscripts written by others, 1923-1944 F81 Cooke, Richard N., 1934 Mar 21 Typescript (carbon) address titled "The New Despotism," 19p. Includes a program for the conference at which the address was presented. F82 Higgins, Frederick Robert, [n.d.] Typescript poem bearing the autograph title "Invocation," and inscribed "to F.J.H. O'Donnell," 1p. F83 O'Hegarty, Patrick Sarsfield, 1923 Apr 17 Autograph review of O'Donnell's play Futility, 2p. F84 Rush, Kevin, 1944 Mar 24 Typescript (carbon) address titled "If Capitalism Is Dead - What Follows?" The address bears autograph notes in the margins, 10p. Series IV. Miscellaneous material relating to O'Donnell, 1911-1945 F85 Abbey Theatre placard for O'Donnell's play Anti-Christ, 1925 Mar 17 F86 Irish Literary Society, London,  Two pamphlets published by the society which detail the society's general rules and lists the current members (including O'Donnell). F87 Clippings about O'Donnell and his plays or speeches, 1925-1945 Includes preservation photocopies. One clipping removed to oversize section. F88 United States Lines, "President Monroe" passenger list, 1923 Sep 19 Lists O'Donnell as a passenger. F89 The College Songs, 1912 A copy of V. O'Brien's The College Songs (Dublin: John F. Fowler, 1912). Includes autograph notes by O'Donnell and a sketch of a building. F90 Broadsides, booklets, tickets, prospectuses, and tear sheets, 1928-1932 Includes a broadside titled "A Few 'Bars' on the 'Grate';" tear sheets from The Economy of Human Life and Black Mask; copy of Maurice Level's story "The Confession;" a copy of Andrew Soutar's booklet, "There's a Story in You: Writing as a Profession;" tickets for a lecture and a play, and prospectuses for Transition 1932, Charles Duff's Mind Products Limited, and Solon Barber's Cross-Country. F91 Two watercolor paintings by unidentified person, [n.d.]
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