Frank O’Connor (pen name of Michael O’Donovan) was born in Cork City on September 17, 1903. There is a poignant description of his childhood in the first volume of his autobiography An Only Child.
He published two novels, The Saint and Mary Kate (Macmillan, London 1932, 1936/New York 1932 – Blackstaff, Belfast 1990); and Dutch Interior (Macmillan, London 1940: Knopf, NY 1940, Blackstaff, Belfast 1990).
However he is best known for his short stories, collected as Guests of the Nation (Macmillan, London 1931; New York 1931); Bones of Contention (Macmillan, NY 1936, London 1938); Crab Apple Jelly; (Macmillan, London 1944, Knopf New York 1944) – banned in Ireland; The Common Chord (Macmillan, London 1947/Knopf, New York 1948)- banned in Ireland; Traveller’s Samples (Macmillan, London 195l/Knopf, NY 195l); The Stories of Frank O’Connor (Knopf NY 1952/Hamish Hamilton London 1953); More Stories by Frank O’Connor (Knopf NY l954, l967); Stories by Frank O’Connor (Vintage, New York 1956); Domestic Relations (Hamish Hamilton, London 1957/Knopf NY 1957); My Oedipus Complex and other stories (London, Penguin l963); Collection Two (Macmillan, London 1964); Collection Three (Macmillan, London 1969); A Set of Variations (Knopf, NY 1969); The Cornet Player who betrayed Ireland (Poolbeg, Dublin 1981); Collected Stories Vol.I and II (Pan Books, 1990/1991); The Collar Stories of Irish Priests (Blackstaff, Belfast 1993) Larry Delaney: Lonesome Genius (Killeen Books, Cork 1996).
His literary criticism includes Shakespeare – The Road to Stratford (Methuen, London 1948 – a revised and enlarged edition of which was published as Shakespeare’s Progress (World Publishing Co. Cleveland, Ohio 1960/Collier Books 196l); The Mirror in the Roadway: A study of the modern novel (Knopf, NY 1956, Hamish Hamilton London 1957); The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story (World Pub. Co, Cleveland Ohio 1962/ Nelson, Foster & Scott, Toronto 1963/ Macmillan, London 1963/Meridian Books 1965/ Macmillan Papermac l965/ Bantam Books NY 1968;Harper Colophon NY 1985); The Backward Look: A Survey of Irish Literature (Macmillan London/Melbourne/Toronto 1967 (Pub. in US as A Short History of Irish Literature: A Backward Look G.P. Putnam’s Sons, NY 1967.
His translations from the Irish include The Wild Bird’s Nest (Cuala Press, Dublin 1932); Lords and Commons (Cuala Press, Dublin 1938); The Fountain of Magic (Macmillan, London 1939); Lament for Art O’Leary, illus. by Jack B. Yeats (Cuala Press 1940); The Midnight Court (Fridberg, London/Dublin 1945; O’Brien Press Dublin 1989); Kings, Lords and Commons (Knopf, New York 1959, Macmillan, London 196l; Gill and Macmillan 1991 still in print) The Little Monasteries (Dolmen Press, Dublin 1963); A Golden Treasure of Irish Poetry AD 600-1200 Irish texts and prose translations.Edited and translated with Introduction by Frank O’Connor and David Greene (Macmillan, London/Melbourne/Toronto 1967/Brandon, Kerry, 1990 still in print)
His volumes of autobiography are An Only Child (Knopf New York 1961/Macmillan, London 1961/ Pan Books 1970/ Blackstaff Press, Belfast 1993/ Syracuse Univ. Press, NY 1997); My Father’s Son (Macmillan London 1968, Knopf, NY 1969/Pan Books 1971/ Blackstaff Press, Belfast 1994/ Syracuse Univ. Press New York 1999).
His biography of Michael Collins is The Big Fellow (Nelson, London 1937/Clonmore and Reynolds, Dublin/ Burns, Oates, London 1965/Poolbeg, Dublin 1991/Picador, New York 1998.)
Topographical work includes Irish Miles (Macmillan London 1947; Hogarth Press, London 1988 with an Introduction by Brendan Kennelly); A Picture Book. illustrated by Elisabeth Rivers (Cuala Press, Dublin 1943); Leinster, Munster and Connaught (Robert Hale, London 1950).
His miscellaneous works include Towards an Appreciation of Literature (Metropolitan Pub. Co. Dublin 1945); A Book of Ireland, Edited and with an Introduction by Frank O’Connor (Wm.Collins & Co, Scotland/Blackstaff Press Belfast 1991); The Art of the Theatre (Fridberg, London/Dublin 1947); The Happiness of Getting it Down Right. Letters between Frank O’Connor and William Maxwell (Knopf, NY l996).
His work has been published in Germany, France, Japan, Denmark, Spain, Italy and Sicily. He taught in the United States at Harvard, Northwestern and Stanford and in Ireland at Trinity College Dublin, which awarded him a D. Litt in 1962.
He died at his home in Dublin on March 10th, 1966.
*contributed by Harriet Sheehy