University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Seán O'Faoláin Letters

1960 - 1964

Manuscript Collection Number: 141
Accessioned: Purchase, 1986.
Extent: .1 linear ft. (43 items).
Content: Letters.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1993 by Anita A. Wellner.

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Table of Contents

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. He was graduated from the National University of Ireland with a B.A. in 1921 and a M.A. in 1925. He also received a M.A. from Harvard University in 1929.

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 upheavel O'Faoláin began to write.

During his early writing career O'Faoláin also served as a lecturer in English at Princeton University (1929); Boston College (1929); and St. Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, England (1929-1933).

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 and to be an Irish Catholic.

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.

Seán O'Faoláin's earliest and best known novels, A Nest of Simple Folk (1933) and Bird Alone (1936), explore the lives of common Irishmen at different stages of Irish history. Later novels continued his exploration of Irish life and issues.

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 the establishing the Irish journal, The Bell, in 1940, continuing as its editor until 1945.

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


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

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

Scope and Content Note

The Seán O'Faoláin letters, written from 1960 to 1964, are addressed to various editors for the publishers, Little, Brown, and for the magazine Atlantic Monthly. The majority of the forty-three letters concern publication details related to O'Faoláin's autobiography, Vive Moi!

Prior to the book's publication in 1964, excerpts of Vive Moi! were published in the January and October, 1964, issues of Atlantic Monthly. The letters to Edward Weeks, Louise Desaulniers, and Mrs. Flint, concern the chapters of Vive Moi! excerpted in the Atlantic Monthly.

The letters which O'Faoláin wrote to Seymour Lawrence, Peter Davidson, Sarah Sherrill, Mr. Goodearl, and "Charles," are concerned primarily with Little, Brown's publication of Vive Moi! O'Faoláin's letters are filled with publication details, such as correcting the proofs, providing a portrait of himself for publicity purposes, laying out travel plans for the book promotion tour and for attending the publication party, expressing concerns about possible libel charges related to passages in the book, refusing to include a dedication or table of contents in his book, describing work on the final chapter, and expressing his feelings upon completing the project.

In addition to information related to Vive Moi!, O'Faoláin discussed his travels, including trips to Italy and Boston; his concerns over internal problems at Little, Brown; a reworking of a collection of short stories; Katharine Anne Porter and Sean O'Sullivan; and his social visits with Seymour Lawrence.

The collection is arranged in chronological order.

Related collections:

Ms 99 Seán O'Faoláin Letters to Joel Wells

Ms 124 Signatures Archive

Ms 136 Frank Hugh O'Donnell Papers

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

Series I.  Letters of Seán O'Faoláin to editors at Little,
          Brown and Atlantic Monthly, 1960-1964.

F1   Letters, 1960-1961
     1960 Apr 6          TLS       To Edward Weeks          1p   
     1961 Jan 28         ALS       To Seymour Lawrence      2p
          Note: Includes one page of answers to questions posed
                by Lawrence.
          Aug 11         ALS       To Lawrence              4p
          Sep 16         ALS       To Lawrence              2p
          Oct 3          TNS       To Sarah Sherrill        1p
          Nov 18         ALS       To Lawrence              2p
     [1961]              ALS       To Lawrence              2p

F2   Letters, 1963
     1963 Oct 10         TLS       To Weeks                 2p
          Oct 14         ALS       To Weeks                 1p
          Oct 23         TLS       To Weeks                 2p
          Oct 29         TLS       To Weeks                 4p
          Nov 6          ANS       To Weeks                 1p
          Nov 21         TLS       To Mrs. Flint            1p
          Dec 13         ALS       To Weeks                 2p
          Dec 23         ALS       To Weeks                 1p

F3   Letters, 1964 Jan-Mar
     1964 Jan 6          AL        To Lawrence              1p
          Jan 15         ALS       To "Charles"             1p
          Jan 21         ALS       To Lawrence              1p
          Jan 26         TLS       To Lawrence              2p
          Jan 29         ALS       To Lawrence              1p
          Feb 1          TLS       To Lawrence              2p
          Feb 1          ALS       To Weeks                 2p
          Feb 11         ALS       To Mr. Goodearl          1p
     [1964] Mar 21       TLS       To Peter Davidson        2p

F4   Letters, 1964 Jul-Aug
     1964 Jul 4          TLS       To Louise Desaulniers    1p
          Jul 6          TLS       To Davidson              2p
          Jul 14         TLS       To Mrs. Flint            2p
          Jul 14         TLS       To Mrs. Marcus           1p
          Jul 16         TLS       To Davidson              4p
          Aug 6          TLS       To Davidson              2p
          [Aug 10]       AL        To Davidson              1p
          Note: Bottom of the page is torn off.
          Aug 12         TLS       To Davidson              1p
          Aug 17         TLS       To Davidson              1p
     [1964]              TLS       To Davidson              1p
     [1964]              TLS       To Weeks                 2p

F5   Letters, [n.d.]
     [n.d.]              ALS       To Lawrence              2p
     [n.y. Feb 26]       ALS       To Lawrence              1p
     [n.y. Mar]          ALS       To Lawrence              1p
     [n.y.] Apr 11       ALS       To Lawrence              1p
     [n.d.]              ANS       To Lawrence              1p
     [n.y.] Sep 29       ALS       To Lawrence              1p
     [n.y.] Oct 24       ALS       To Lawrence              1p
     [n.y.] "A 17"       ALS       To Sherrill              1p                  

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