Irish literature in Special Collections
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Celebrate with a book of Irish literature!
Special Collections owns many first editions of literary works by Irish writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, from prolific novelist Charles Lever to modernist provocateur James Joyce. Here are a few suggestions to get your celebration started, whatever your literary taste:
Start traditionally with Legends and Stories of Ireland (Victorian Collection 823 L945L 1837), an early Victorian collection of Irish folk tales by multi-talented Irish writer, composer, and painter Samuel Lover. The copy in Special Collections, though not a first edition, features a festive shamrock-laden, gilt-stamped publishers’ binding.
Poetry lovers, savor a few classics from Ireland’s most famous poet, Nobel Laureate W. B. Yeats. Try his early Poems (Rare Collection PR 5904 .P6 1895) or what many scholars consider his greatest collection, The Tower (Rare Collection PR 5904 .T6 1928).
Gearing up for Fan X? You might like some classic fantasy by Lord Dunsany. Edward Plunkett, the Anglo-Irish Baron Dunsany, was an influence on other great fantasy and sci-fi authors of the 20th century like H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Arthur C. Clarke. Try Dunsany’s early Tales of Wonder (Rare Collection PR 6007 .U6 T34x). Lovecraft fans may also like Victorian horror writer Sheridan Le Fanu’s Ghost Stories (Vault Collection 823 L52g 1851).
Dig Dickens? Try Charles Lever’s The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer (Victorian Collection 823 L576c 1839). Lever’s novels rivaled Dickens’ throughout the Victorian period — in fact, Dickens had to release Great Expectations a little early to counter sales of Lever’s book A Day’s Ride. The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer is a collection of rollicking short stories with Dickens-esque humor and even shares an illustrator with the first edition Oliver Twist.
Drama geek? Read a few Irish plays like The Playboy of the Western World by John Millington Synge (Rare Collection PR 5532 .P5 1907), which caused a riot on its opening night, or G. Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman (Vault Collection 822.81 M31c 1903).
Need even more drama? You know, the literary scandal kind? View first editions of two infamous books by Irish writers, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (Vault Collection 822.85 P58L 1890) and James Joyce’s Ulysses (Vault Collection 823.94 UL9 1922), both of which spent time on banned books lists!