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Selected Primary Resources

ENGL 651 | Prof. Kevin Kerrane | English Department


Special Collections collects Irish literature from the 1700s to the present, with strong representation of the Irish Literary Renaissance and later twentieth century authors. The Library has extensive holdings of publications from the Dun Emer Press and Cuala Press. Other major collections include Samuel Beckett, Padraic Colum, Lord Dunsany, Lady Gregory, James Joyce, George Moore, Sean O'Casey, George Bernard Shaw, J.M. Synge, and W.B. Yeats. Special Collections houses strong collections of the work of virtually every twentieth-century Irish author. Manuscripts include correspondence between W.B. Yeats and Shri Purohit Swami, and papers of Jack B. Yeats, Lennox Robinson, Sean O'Faolain, Frank J. Hugh O'Donnell, Ulick O'Connor, Brian Coffey, and the archives of the Proscenium Press, Salmon Press, and the Raven Arts Press.

Exhibitions featuring Irish literary collections include Samuel Beckett: A Celebration (2003) and Irish Women Authors (1994).

Searching DELCAT

In addition to searching personal names of playwrights and titles of specific plays, the following subject and title (series) search terms will help retrieve library sources related to 20th century Irish drama:

Additionally, searching DELCAT by press or publisher (in the ADVANCED SEARCH function) will net results reflecting the comprehensive holdings of Irish Literature in the University of Delaware Library.


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Selected Reference Sources

Dictionary of Irish literature / Robert Hogan, editor-in-chief ; associate editors, Zack Bowen ... [et al.]. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1996.

LOCATION: Special Collections Reference PR8706 .D5 1996

Fitz-Simon, Christopher.

The Irish theatre / Christopher Fitz-Simon. New York : Thames and Hudson, 1983.

LOCATION: Special Collections Reference PR8721 .F5 1983

Territories of the voice : contemporary stories by Irish women writers / edited by Louise DeSalvo, Kathleen D'Arcy & Katherine M. Hogan. Boston : Beacon Press, c1989.

LOCATION: Morris Library PR8876.2 .W65 T4 1989

Weekes, Ann Owens, 1941- .

Unveiling treasures : the Attic guide to the published works of Irish women literary writers drama, fiction, poetry / by Ann Owens Weekes. Dublin : Attic Press, 1993.

LOCATION: Special Collections Reference PR8733 .W46 1993

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Manuscripts and Archival Collections

In addition to finding aids, Special Collections maintains a database of literary and historical correspondence and manuscripts. For assistance of any kind, please contact a Librarian in Special Collections.

MSS 99 Miscellaneous Literary and Historical Manuscripts

F167 Sean O'Casey, "Purple Dust" essay, circa 1962; 1 item (5 pp.)

F168 Sean O'Casey, "Young Cassidy" manuscript, circa 1964; 1 item (9 pp.)

F169 Sean O'Casey, "The Silver Tassie" playscript, undated; 1 item (77 pp.)

F170 Sean O'Casey letters to Bumpus and Company, 1926–1927; 2 items (2 pp.)

F171 Sean O'Casey letter to Harold Waller, 1940 March 22; 1 item (2 pp.)

F442 Seán O'Faoláin and Brian Friel letters to Joel Wells, 1966 1970; 8 items.

Includes five letters from Friel to Wells, editor of The Critic.

F648 J. Hartley Manners Letters to Philip Troup, 1915 - 1920; 8 items.

Actor and dramatist J. Hartley Manners was born to Irish parents in London on August 10, 1870. His most prominent play was Peg O' My Heart which Manners wrote for his wife, actress Laurette (Cooney) Taylor, in 1912.The seven letters and one telegram in this collection, written to his friend Philip Troup, were originally laid in a first American edition of Manner's novel, Peg O' My Heart.

F649 George Moore Letters to Lady Leonie Leslie, 1897 - 1977; 15 items.

The fifteen items in this small collection include eleven letters written by George Moore to Lady Leonie Leslie (between 1897 and 1925) that are tipped into Sir Shane Leslie's copy of Nancy Cunard's GM: Memories of George Moore (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1956). Reflecting an amiable closeness with Lady Leslie, Moore's letters are full of social engagements, comments about travel plans, and opinions on recently observed plays.

F747 Christina Reid. My Name, Shall I Tell You My Name?, 1989; 2 items.

Two undated items related to Christina Reid’s play, My Name, Shall I Tell You My Name?, which was adapted from her radio play of the same title. Yew Theatre presented the world stage premiere of Christina Reid’s My Name, Shall I Tell You My Name? at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1989. This collection includes an undated playscript distributed by Alan Brodie Representation, International Creative Management (London), and a theater program for a production of the play by the Yew Theater Company of Ireland.

MSS 100 > Manuscript and Archival Collections

MSS 102 Bernard Shaw Collection, 1887 - 1947 (56 items)

This small collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, a contract, receipts, proofs, and inscriptions by the playwright Bernard Shaw. Items of particular note include an autograph account of Shaw's early life and career, and a contract between Shaw and George Sidney King and Harry Douglas Parry for performances of Shaw's plays.

MSS 126 William Butler Yeats Collection, 1890 - 1940 (bulk dates 1931-1938); .6 linear ft.

Correspondence and miscellaneous personal papers from one of the twentieth century's best known poets, who was also an accomplished playwright and co-founder of the Irish Literary Theatre. Includes more than sixty Yeats letters to Shree Purohit Swami, with whom he traslated The Ten Principal Upanishads (1937).

MSS 136 Frank J. Hugh O'Donnell Papers, 1911 - 1974 (bulk dates 1918 - 1954); 1.3 linear ft.

Letters, essays, reviews (criticism), programs, speeches, etc. of Irish businessman and amateur playwright Frank J. Hugh O'Donnell (1911-1976), often recognized by his contemporaries as "being Ireland's most banned playwright." Among the correspondents in the collection are noted literary figures including Austin Clarke, Denis Ireland, Edward Martyn, Sean O'Casey, Lennox Robinson, and W. B. Yeats. In addition, a typescript of Constance de Markieviecz's play The Invincible Mother is enclosed in her letter to O'Donnell. (F32)

MSS 137 Ulick O'Connor Papers, 1858 - 1973; 8 linear ft.

Personal and professional papers of Irish biographer, poet, playwright, drama critic, journalist, and barrister Ulick O'Connor. Includes substantial writings about Brendan Behan, James Joyce, and Oliver St. John Gogarty, as well as correspondence unpublished manuscripts.

MSS 147 Padraic Colum Papers, 1927 - 1970; 80 items (.25 linear ft.)

Colum (1881-1972) a close Dublin friend of James Joyce, became a member of the National Theatre Society and was an original Abbey Theatre charter signer; he wrote several of the Abbey Theatre's earliest plays. Includes letters from Colum to author and theatrical producer Basil Burwell, discussing productions of Colum's plays, personal matters, and general literary and business matters, as well as manuscripts of Colum's poetry and plays.

MSS 180 David R. Clark Papers, 1957 - 1989; 1 linear foot.

Papers of the noted American Irish literary scholar and authority on W.B. Yeats, including correspondence with and reference material about many of Ireland's foremost poets, writers, and publishers, as well as many scholars of Irish literature and theater. Among those represented in this collection are Seamus Heaney, Denis Johnston, Thomas MacGreevy, Liam Miller, Frank O'Connor, and Mary O'Malley.

MSS 212 Lennox Robinson papers related to John Quinn, 1903 - 1931; 136 items.

The Clancy Name, Robinson’s first play, appeared at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, in1908. A year later Irish playwrights William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory appointed him producer and manager of the Abbey Theatre. He served in this capacity until 1914 and later resumed the positions from 1919 to 1923. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Abbey until his death in 1958. While serving Abbey Theatre he was responsible for opening the Peacock Theatre in 1925 and for creating the Abbey School of Acting in 1926. This small collection consists of editorial correspondence, transcripts of letters, and other manuscripts and material toward a proposed two-volume edition of letters written to the New York lawyer, patron of the arts, and collector John Quinn. Robinson was the editor for this project.

MSS 264 Montgomery Evans II Collection of Lord Dunsany Manuscripts, 1912 - 1935; 21 items

The Irish poet, playwright, and short story writer, Lord Dunsany (Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett), was born in London on July 24, 1878. Although he is considered a writer of the Irish Literary Renaissance and knew the main figures of the movement, Dunsany was a British subject who associated primarily with the British aristocracy. Lord Dunsany's first play, The Glittering Gate (1909), was written for production at Dublin's Abbey Theatre at the request of William Butler Yeats. Some of the other plays written by Dunsany include Kinq Arqimenes and the Unknown Warrior (1911), The Gods of the Mountain (1911), A Night at an Inn (1916), The Queen's Enemies (1916), The Laughter of the Gods (1919), and If (1921). Among the manuscripts in the collection are the galley proofs of Dunsany's collection of plays, Plays of Gods and Men.

MSS 309 Thomas MacGreevy Letters to Eleanor and Frederick Reid, 1954 - 1966; .1 linear ft. (29 items, 78 pp.)

Close colleague of Samuel Beckett, Denis Devlin, Brian Coffey, and James Joyce from his university days in Paris in the late 1920s. Appointed Director of the National Gallery (1950), MacGreevy diligently sought to establish the National Gallery as a cultural center for the Irish nation. He organized an exhibition devoted to the work of Jack B. Yeats, with whom he was close. MacGreevy's letters to the Reids provide much information about Yeats, with incidental personal news and reminiscences about his friendships with James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Wallace Stevens.

MSS 313 Archives of the Proscenium Press, 1904 - 1993 (bulk dates 1962 - 1993); 13 linear ft.

Robert Hogan, scholar of modern drama and Irish literature, founded the Proscenium Press in 1965 "to make the work of Irish literary figures available to both students and audiences in the United States." The archive includes the working files of the Press, as well as personal and professional papers, and a group of manuscripts written by Hogan's wife, Irish author Mary Rose Callaghan. The collection includes extensive correspondence and manuscripts from authors whose work was published by Proscenium Press or in The Journal of Irish Literature (1972-1993). Substantial groups of letters from such noteworthy Irish writers as Juanita Casey, Seamus De Burca, James Douglas, Denis Johnston, Mary Manning, M. J. Molloy, John O'Donovan, and Mervyn Wall are available. Smaller collections of letters are from Ivy Bannister, Paul Vincent Carroll, Padraic Colum, Seamus Byrne, Desmond Forristal, Brian Friel, Michael Judge, John B. Keane, Brendan Kennelly, Benedict Kiely, Mary Lavin, Bryan MacMahon, Val Mulkerns, Thomas Murphy, Conor Cruise O'Brien, Sean O'Faolain, Seamus O'Neill, Brian Power, Sydney Bernard Smith, and O. Z. Whitehead.

MSS 335 Ulster Theatre Plays, 1912 - 1928; 6 items

The Ulster Theatre Plays contain scripts of six plays by Ulster writers produced by the Ulster Theatre in Northern Ireland in the early 1900s. Although none of the plays produced by the Ulster Theatre achieved the status of those produced by the Abbey Theatre, the national theatre of Ireland, the plays nonetheless stand as testimonies to such creative geniuses of the North as Shan F. Bullock, Bernard Duffy, N. Richard Hayward, and Gerald MacNamara.

MSS 374 Irish Theatre Journals, 1793, 1868 - 1901; .6 linear ft.

Six bound volumes of clippings, programs, articles, and autograph notes regarding theater in Dublin. Loose pages of notes, and clippings -- also related to Irish theater -- complete the collection. The bulk of the collection dates between 1868 and 1901, but there are a few entries for the year 1793. The scrapbook/journals comprise a collection of research material, possibly for a book or articles on the history of theater in Dublin.

MSS 433 Bernard McKenna collection related to Irish Theater and Writers, 1983 - 1995; .3 linear ft.

Playbills and other material from five Irish theater companies ("since October 1968") and letters (1994-1995) from Robert Hogan, Irish literary scholar and professor emeritus of English literature at the University of Delaware. McKenna was an associate editor of Hogan's Dictionary of Irish Literature. Theatres include Charabanc Theatre Company of Belfast, The Lyric Theatre of Belfast, Field Day Theatre Company of Derry, The National Theatre Society Limited (Abbey and Peacock Theatres) of Dublin, and The Passion Machine of Dublin.

MSS 438 Archives of Salmon Publishing, Ltd., 1982 - 1997; 11 linear ft.

Working files of Salmon Publishing Ltd. of Clare, Ireland, from its inception in 1982 through 1997. Founded and directed by the American-Irish poet, Jessie Lendennie, Salmon Publishing is noted particularly for its promotion of the work of new women poets.

MSS 446 Sir Joseph Gold collection related to Samuel Beckett, 1930 - 1999; 23 linear ft.

Substantial collection of ephemera and published material by and about the playwright, including playbills, reviews, and other ephemera related to productions of Beckett's plays. The archival collection complements Sir Joseph Gold's library of more than 3,000 Beckett titles, which are housed with printed collections in Special Collections.

MSS 467 Archive of the Raven Arts Press, 1971 - 1993 (bulk dates 1978-1993); 16 linear ft. and oversize materials

Working files of the Dublin-based press founded by Dermot Bolger in 1977 when he was 17. Raven Arts authors include Sara Berkeley, Paddy Doyle, Anthony Cronin, Francis Stuart, Murice Scully, Paul Durcan, as well as Bolger's own work and the work of many others.

MSS 475 Abbey Theatre Playbill Collection, 1909 - 1994 (bulk dates 1901-1923, 1994); .67 linear ft.

Established in 1904 in Dublin as a venue for Irish playwrights, the Abbey Theatre developed out of the Irish Literary Theatre, which had been founded by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1899. In 1924, the Abbey Theatre became the first state-sponsored theatre in the world. The Abbey nurtured the careers of such influential playwrights and Lennox Robinson, Sean O'Casey, J.M. Synge, George Bernard Shaw, and Padraic Colum. The collection comprises 77 playbills.

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