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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Writers

We never need an excuse to talk about Irish authors--James Joyce and Bram Stoker are year-round staples of the Rosenbach diet-- but with St. Patrick's Day approaching I thought I'd highlight a few other famous Irishmen in our collection. Many thanks to our librarian Elizabeth Fuller for letting me crib from the script from her Irish Writers hands-on-tour.

Jonathan Swift

Satirist Swift is best known for Gulliver's Travels, published in 1726 and seen below in a first edition. This is the book that gave us the words lilliputian and yahoos, among other cultural tropes. Our collection also includes a few other Swiftian works, including Tale of A Tub, and Battle of the Books.

[Jonathan Swift], Travels into several remote nations of the world...by Lemuel Gulliver. EL2 .S977tr

Oliver Goldsmith


This 18th-century author was a real literary jack of all trades: executing translations, writing children's books, general articles, poetry, plays and novels. He's best known for his play She Stoops to Conquer, his novel The Vicar of Wakefield, and his poem The Deserted Village (shown below). His works were very popular in the 19th century and we even have the copper printing plates for an edition of his poems printed in 1819


Printing plate for The Poems of Oliver Goldsmith,1819,.2005.0250.001.001

Oscar Wilde

Wilde is a man who needs no introduction and as he himself said, "biography lends to death a new terror." However I can't resist one of my favorite fun facts--Florence Balcombe courted Oscar Wilde, but eventually chose to marry another Irishman--Bram Stoker! Anyway, on the theme of love (and Rosenbach), here is a manuscript sonnet by Wilde on the sale of Keats's love letters.

Oscar Wilde. Sonnet : On the sale by auction of Keats' love letters. 1 March 1885. EL3 f.W672 MS1

William Butler Yeats


We don't have much from this towering figure of 20th-century literature , but we do have two manuscripts, including this one entitled "The Stolen Child." By the way, Yeats was the first Irish author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1923)--this has sometimes been a useful bit of trivia for the Quizzo at Bloomsday 101.

W. B. Yeats, The Stolen Child. EMs 1280/4

So enjoy St. Patrick's Day and curl up with your favorite Irish writer. If you'd like something a bit more contemporary, Frank Delaney, the guest of honor at this year's Rosenbacchanal is coming out with a new short story on St Patrick's Day. His earlier short story The Druid is being offered for free right now on Amazon and the new one will post tomorrow. Whatever you pick, have a wonderful weekend!


Kathy Haas is the Assistant Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

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