University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Seán O'Faoláin
Letters to
John and Mary Marshall

1930 - 1958

Manuscript Collection Number: 099 F623
Accessioned: Purchase, February 1999.
Extent: 11 items.
Content: Letters and postcards.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: September 1999 by Devin Harner.

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Table of Contents

Introductory 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Related Collections:

Mss 099 F442 Seán O'Faoláin and Brian Friel letters to Joel Wells
Mss 124 Signatures Archive
Mss 136 Frank Hugh O'Donnell Papers
Mss 141 Seán O'Faoláin Letters

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

     Letters to the Marshalls

F623      1930 10 Jun         ACS       1p
               11 Oct         ALS       3p
               19 Dec    ALS       1p
                    NOTE:  with envelope
          1934 Feb       TLS       1p
               NOTE:  with envelope          
          [1934]    Thursday  TLS       2p
          1935 1 Oct          TLS       4p
          1954 25 Jul         ACS       1p
          1958 11 Jun         ALS       2p
          [n.d.]              C         1p
               NOTE:  Christmas Greeting Card
          [n.d.]              ALS       4p

     Letter from Mary Marshall to "Becky"
          1934 9 Jan          ALS       3p        

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