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UCC - University College Cork College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences Gaeilge


1903 Michael John O’Donovan born 17 September in Cork to Michael (Mick) O’Donovan and Mary (Minnie) O’Donovan (née O’Connor).
Frank O’Connor’s   

As a young man   

In 1929   

1912 While a student at St. Patrick’s National School in Cork meets mentor Daniel Corkery; formal schooling ends in 1915.
1916 Easter Rebellion against British rule in Ireland violently suppressed; Irish rebel leaders shot.
1918 At age 15, Michael O’Donovan enlists in the First Cork Brigade of the Irish Republican Army. Meets writer Sean O’Faolain for the first time in ‘The Twenty Club’, which was a small intellectual group founded by Corkery and others.
1921 Britain agrees to establish Irish Free State to grant Irish greater autonomy.
1922 Civil War breaks out, ending in 1923; Michael O’Donovan fights as an anti-Treatyite, serving mainly in a propagandist role. Irish Free State officially proclaimed. Michael O’Donovan publishes his first poems in a Cork republican newspaper, An Long.
1923 After capture by Free State forces, he is detained at Gormanstown Internment Camp; released in December 1923.
1924-28 Teaches Irish in country schools; serves as librarian in Sligo, Wicklow and Cork. Adopts pseudonym “Frank O’Connor” to keep his position as a librarian and retain independence as a writer. Poems, stories, reviews and translations published in The Irish Statesman, Dublin Magazine, The Tribune. Meets George Russell, Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1925; meets James Joyce in Paris in 1927.
1927-29 With Sean Hendrick, founds the Cork Drama League to stage continental playwrights such as Chekhov and Ibsen. Meets his first love, Nancy McCarthy. Moves to Dublin in 1928 to become librarian of Pembroke Library in Ballsbridge.
1931 Highly praised collection of stories, Guests of the Nation. Second printing in October.
1932 Novel, The Saint and Mary Kate. First book of translations of Irish poetry, The Wild Bird’s Nest, for Cuala Press. Applied for post of Cork City Librarian but was not accepted. At Yeats’s invitation, becomes a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. Lady Gregory dies.
1933 Denis Johnston makes silent film of Guests of the Nation using Abbey Theatre actors; O’Connor appears briefly in it. Screened at the Gate Theatre in 1935.
1935 Appointed member of board of directors of Abbey Theatre. George Russell (AE) dies.
1936 Three Old Brothers and Other Poems; Bones of Contention and Other Stories. Meets his first wife, Evelyn Bowen Speaight, at the Mercury Theatre in London.
1937 Appointed Managing Director of Abbey Theatre. Writes and produces (with Hugh Hunt) the play In the Train, based on 1935 story; play The Invincibles (with Hugh Hunt). Biography of Michael Collins, The Big Fellow. First broadcast on Radio Éireann in Athlone (3 January).
Programme from   
the Abbey Theatre -   
“The Invincibles”   

1938 Writes and produces (with Hugh Hunt) the play Moses’ Rock at the Abbey; writes and produces the play Time’s Pocket at the Abbey; resigns position at Pembroke Library to write full-time, and moves to Wicklow. Collection of translations of Irish poems, Lords and Commons.
1939 Marries Evelyn Bowen Speaight. The Fountain of Magic (translations of Irish poems). Forced to step down from Abbey board after the death of W. B. Yeats. First child, Myles, born.
1940 Co-founds with Sean O’Faolain and Denis Johnston a new literary and cultural journal, The Bell, appointed poetry editor of the periodical. Translation of famous Irish poem Lament for Art O’Leary. Second novel, Dutch Interior, officially banned by Irish Censorship Board as obscene and indecent. First daughter, Liadain, born.
1941 Moves to Dublin. Works in London for the British Ministry of Information and BBC. His play The Statue’s Daughter staged in Dublin in the Gate Theatre, serves as the first play of the reformed Dublin Drama League.
1942 Father dies in March. Three Tales (Cuala Press). Protests banning of book by Eric Cross, The Tailor and Ansty, about Timothy Buckley, rural Irish storyteller much admired by O’Connor. During this period, he was a controversial figure in Ireland, with opportunities for publication and income limited or eliminated.
1943 A Picture Book (travels in Ireland). As “Ben Mayo” (another pseudonym made necessary by opposition to his controversial positions), he begins publishing regular articles criticising Irish policies and politics in the Sunday Independent; series continues until 1945.
1944 Crab Apple Jelly (stories).
1945 Towards an Appreciation of Literature and translation of The Midnight Court; the latter attacked as indecent and banned in 1946, while the original poem in Irish was available in government bookshops. First stories published in The New Yorker. Birth of his son, Oliver.
1946 Selected Stories. Birth of his son, Owen.
1947 The Common Chord (stories) appears and is banned. O’Connor attacked by poet Patrick Kavanagh in The Bell as superficial writer. Irish Miles (travel book); The Art of the Theatre.
1948 The Road to Stratford (on Shakespeare). Separates from Evelyn and moves to England.
Frank O’Connor’s   
mother, Minnie   

1949 “Ireland,” a controversial essay in Holiday magazine, describing poverty and provincialism.
1950 Leinster, Munster and Connaught (travel book); “The Genius” adapted for stage in New York as When I Was A Child.
1951 Traveller’s Samples (stories) published and banned. O’Connor leaves for America to lecture and teach at Harvard and Northwestern University.
1952 Divorced from Evelyn. Returns to Northwestern and Harvard. Mother dies in November. The Stories of Frank O’Connor. Meets Harriet Rich at Harvard.
1953 Marries Harriet Rich.
Michael, Harriet and   
Hallie Óg,   
Brooklyn Heights, 1959   
1954 More Stories by Frank O’Connor. With Harriet, lives in America and Ireland.
1956 The Mirror in the Roadway (his collection of essays on the novel genre); Stories by Frank O’Connor (paperback collection).
1957 Domestic Relations (stories).
1958 Daughter Harriet (Hallie Og) born.
1959 A Book of Ireland (anthology); Kings, Lords and Commons (translations of Irish poetry); the latter banned in Ireland in 1961 (year first published in Europe) because it contained his translation of The Midnight Court.
1961 An Only Child (autobiography). (Second volume, My Father’s Son, published in 1968). Suffers stroke while teaching at Stanford University and returns to Ireland. Monitor – filmed interview for BBC television. Shakespeare’s Progress - revised and enlarged edition of The Road to Stratford.
Photo from Stanford   
1962 Receives honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin; took part in a Radio Telefís Éireann documentary, Interior Voices — one of Irish television’s first programmes — O’Connor read and commented on his stories. The Lonely Voice (his study of the short story).
1963 The Little Monasteries (translations of Irish poems).
1964 Lectures at Trinity College Dublin. Collection Two (stories). Controversial Introduction to James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
1966 Dies on 10 March in Dublin. Posthumous publication of A Golden Treasury of Irish Poetry, A.D. 600-1200, co-edited and translation with David Greene (1967). Posthumous publication of his Trinity College Dublin lectures, The Backward Look: A Survey of Irish Literature (1967).

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