University of Delaware Library
Bookmark and Share

Irish Literature: Period Studies

Selected Primary Resources

ENGL 651 | Prof. Kevin Kerrane | English Department

for reference assistance email Special Collections

or contact:
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229


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).

Top of page

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

Top of page

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.

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.)

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 141 Seán O'Faoláin Letters, 1960 - 1964; .1 linear ft. (43 items)

Seán O'Faoláin (1900-1991) fought in the Irish Revolution from 1918-1921 and served as the director of publicity for the Irish Republican Army in 1923, during which time he began to write. In addition to short stories and novels, O'Faoláin wrote biographies of Eamon de Valera, Constance Markievicz, Daniel O'Connell, Hugh O'Neill, John Henry Newman, as well as an autobiography, Vive Moi! (1964). He established the Irish journal The Bell in 1940, continuing as its editor until 1945. The letters primarily concern publication details related to O'Faoláin's autobiography.

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 243 Robert Brennan and Maeve Brennan Papers, 1935 - 1967; 1 linear ft. (ca. 170 items)

Manuscripts and correspondence of the author and diplomat Robert Brennan and of his daughter, author and New Yorker columnist Maeve Brennan.

MSS 266 George Moore Collection, 1888 - 1929 (bulk dates 1888 - 1890, 1914 - 1929); 91 items. (.75 linear ft.)

Letters, page and galley proofs, poem, fiction, and prose from the popular Irish novelist and story writer. Includes letters to a number of individuals, discussing the publication and editing of his books or articles, his travels, and his health; or responding to comments on his writing. The seven manuscripts include page proofs for his collection of short stories, The Untilled Field (1903), and for his novel, Lewis Seymour and Some Women (1917). The collection also includes a galley proof of his poem, "La Réponse de Georges Moore en Forme de Sonnet à son Ami Edouard Dujardin" (1920).

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 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 382 Brian Coffey Papers, 1930 - 1995; 11.5 linear ft., and oversized material

Personal and literary papers of the avant-garde Irish poet, artist, writer, publisher, critic, teacher, translator Brian Coffey (1905-1995). Dublin born, son of Denis J. Coffey, who served as first president of University College, Dublin, 1908 to 1940. Close friend of poet Denis Devlin, in 1930 they co-authored a collection simply titled Poems. Coffey studied in Paris in the early 1930s, where he befriended Thomas MacGreevy and Samuel Beckett, both of whom encouraged Coffey to continue writing. Beckett published a 1934 essay entitled "Recent Irish Poetry," in which he described Coffey and Devlin, "without question the most interesting of the youngest generation of Irish poets." Coffey taught, gained in status as a poet, and in 1966 established his own press, Advent Books, which began publishing limited editions of poetry with a special emphasis on typography and jacket design.

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.

MSS 491 Rudi Holzapfel Letters to Ellen Shannon-Mangan, 1978 - 2000; 1 linear ft. (229 items)

Letters from the Irish poet to an American scholar regarding the poet James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849), "the greatest Irish poet before Yeats." In 1969, Holzapfel published James Clarence Mangan: A Checklist of Printed and Other Sources (Dublin: Scepter). Shanon-Mangan is the author of James Clarence Mangan: a Biography (1996) and co-editor, with Holzapfel, Jacques Chuto, Peter Van de Kamp, and Peter MacMahon, of the Irish Academic Press Series The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan.

Top of page

This page is maintained by Special Collections.

  • UD Library Special Collections  •   181 South College Avenue  •   Newark, DE 19717-5267  •   USA
    Phone: USA +1 302-831-2229  •   ©2014