Manning, Mary

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Mary Manning (also known as Mary Manning Howe) was born in Dublin in 1905 and went to drama school in London when she was sixteen. After returning to Ireland she attended the Abbey Theatre drama school under Sarah Allgood, and acted in the Abbey and the Gate in the early 1930s.

Her plays are Youth’s the Season (Dublin, The Gate Theatre, 1928); Youth’s the Season (The Gate Theatre, 1932); Storm Over Wicklow (The Gate Theatre, 1933); Happy Family (The Gate Theatre, 1934); Ah Well, It Won’t Be Long Now! (Dublin, Olympia Theatre, 1971); Outlook Unsettled (Dublin, The Project Arts Centre, 1976).
Her theatrical adaptations include The Voice of Shem, adapted from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Poet’s Theater, 1955); and The Saint and Mary Kate, based on the short story by Frank O’Connor (The Abbey Theatre, 1968).

Her novels are Mount Venus (Boston, Houghton Mifflin 1938); Lovely People ( Houghton Mifflin 1953); and The Last Chronicles of Ballyfungus (London, Routledge/ Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1978).

In 1935, she emigrated to Boston and married Mark De Wolfe Howe.
She directed drama at Radcliffe College during World War II, and later founded The Poet’s Theatre, which apart from her production of The Voice of Shem, and Yeats‘ early plays, produced work by many poets including Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Edward Gorey, W.S. Merwin, V.R. Lang, Gregory Corso, as well as that of her childhood friend Samuel Beckett, who had featured her and her mother Susan Manning in his first novel, Dreams of Fair to Middling Women.

Passages from Finnegans Wake. A Free Adaptation for the Theatre by Mary Manning, was published in the Poets’ Theater Series by Harvard University Press in 1957.

.After the death of her husband in 1967, she returned to Dublin and worked as drama critic for Hibernia magazine, and was a regular reviewer of books for The Irish Times, but she returned to Cambridge and married Faneuil Adams in 1980.

Go Lovely Rose, based on the life of Rose Kennedy, was produced as a one woman show at the Fourth International Women Playwright’s Conference held in Galway in June 1997.

Her daughter Susan Howe is a poet, while another daughter, Fanny Howe, is both a novelist and poet.

Mary Manning died in 1999.

Mary Manning at

Mary Manning at (includes a sound clip from The Voice of Shem).
Mary Manning at The National Library of Ireland