Brendan Behan

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Brendan BehanBrendan Behan, poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright. Behan joined the IRA at sixteen, which led to his serving time in a borstal youth prison in England and was also imprisoned in Republic of Ireland. In 1954, Behan’s first play The Quare Fellow was produced in Dublin. Behan’s autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy, was published the same year and became a worldwide best-seller. Behan was known for his drinking problem, which resulted in his suffering from diabetes, which ultimately resulted in his death on 20 March 1964. He was given an IRA guard of honour which escorted his coffin and it was described by several newspapers as the biggest funeral since those of Michael Collins and Charles Stewart Parnell.

Brendan Francis Behan (1923-1964) poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright was born at 13 Russell Street in Dublin’s north inner city into a republican family. He wrote in both English and Irish. His father Stephen Behan, a house painter who had been active in the War of Independence, read classic literature to the children at bedtime from sources such as Zola, Galsworthy, and Maupassant; his mother, Kathleen, took them on literary tours of the city.He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army. Behan joined the IRA at sixteen, which led to his serving time in a borstal youth prison in England and was also imprisoned in Republic of Ireland. During this time, he took it upon himself to study and he became a fluent speaker of the Irish language. Subsequently released from prison as part of a general amnesty given by the Fianna Fáil government in 1946, Behan moved between homes in Dublin, Kerry and Connemara and also resided in Paris for a period.

In 1954, Behan’s first play The Quare Fellow was produced in Dublin. It was well received; however, it was the 1956 production at Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in Stratford, London, that gained Behan a wider reputation – this was helped by a famous drunken interview on BBC television. In 1958, Behan’s play in the Irish language An Giall had its debut at Dublin’s Damer Theatre. Later, The Hostage, Behan’s English-language adaptation of An Giall, met with great success internationally. Behan’s autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy, was published the same year and became a worldwide best-seller.

He married Beatrice Salkeld in 1955. Behan was known for his drinking problem, which resulted in his suffering from diabetes, which ultimately resulted in his death on 20 March 1964. He was given an IRA guard of honour which escorted his coffin and it was described by several newspapers as the biggest funeral since those of Michael Collins and Charles Stewart Parnell.

Behan’s fortunes changed in 1954 with the appearance of his play ‘The Quare Fellow ‘ – his major breakthrough at last. Originally called ‘The Twisting of Another Rope’ and influenced by his time spent in jail, it chronicles the vicissitudes of prison life leading up to the execution of “the quare fellow” – a character who is never seen. The prison dialogue is vivid and laced with satire, but reveals to the reader the human detritus that surrounds capital punishment. It was produced in the Pike Theatre in Dublin. The play ran for six months.

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BEHAN, Brendan: Brendan Behan’s Island (Signed Copy)

BEHAN, Brendan. Brendan Behan’s Island. An Irish Sketch-book. With drawings by Paul Hogarth. Illustrated. 914 London: Hutchinson, 1962. First edition. pp. 192. Green and brown paper boards, title in gilt on spine. Top edges red. A fine copy in fine dust jacket. Signed by the author on title page. L3 8E

450.00
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BEHAN, Brendan: The Hostage Programme at the Wyndham’s Theatre on 11th June 1959.

Brendan Behan’s Hostage. Performed at the Wyndham’s Theatre on 11th June 1959.

45.00
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BEHAN, Brendan. The Hostage

BEHAN, Brendan. The Hostage. London: Methuen, 1958. Crown octavo. First edition. pp. vi, 92. Black cloth, titled in green. A very good copy in frayed dust jacket. L3 8E

95.00

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