Flann O'Brien

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O'Brien-FlannFlann O’Brien [Brian O’Nolan] (1911-1966), novelist, journalist, short story writer, playwright and humourist was better known by his pseudonyms Myles na gCopaleen, but he also had other pseudonymic incarnations: Brother Barnabas, George Knowall, Count O’Blather, and John James Doe. His most celebrated novel ‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ was published in 1939, was hailed critically, and much relished by James Joyce, but it sold poorly. In 1960, the re-issue of ‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ brought tremendous success, restored his confidence, and he went on to produce more best-selling novels.

Flann O’Brien was born in Strabane, Co Tyrone. His father was a customs officer but also very pro-Irish and grew up speaking Irish at home as no schools in the area taught Irish. His father was transferred to Dublin when Flann was a boy of 12 years of age where he developed a talent and passion for writing at Blackrock College, Co. Dublin. After his father’s death, Flann helped his mother, financially supporting her and his 11 siblings.

His most celebrated novel ‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ was published in 1939, was hailed critically, and much relished by James Joyce, but it sold poorly. For twenty years Flann O’Brien contributed a humorous column ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ to the ‘Irish Times’. Some of the material was simply humorous – puns, word games, fantasies, and anecdotes – satirically directed against politicians, bureaucrats, and mediocrities in office. A series of accidents and illnesses led to bouts of drunkenness, and when, in 1953, it was felt that his attacks on establishment figures in his column could no longer be ignored he was persuaded to retire from the Civil Service. In 1960, the re-issue of ‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ brought tremendous success, restored his confidence, and he went on to produce more best-selling novels.

Flann O’Brien was an alcoholic and suffered from poor health throughout his life, developing throat cancer. He died of a heart attach on April 1st (April Fools Day) in 1966.

A commemorative Google Doodle was created for Flann in 2021 to mark the 101st anniversary of his birth. His life and works were celebrated on BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives.

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Flann O'Brien
Costello, Peter: Flann O’Brien: An Illustrated Biography [Signed by the Author]
Bloomsbury Publishing: 1988. Quarto. 160 pp. Signed by the author “Peter Costello, Christmas 1987” Under many pen-names, including that of Flann O’Brien, Brian O’Nolan was a legend among Irish writers, creating his famous novel “At Swim-Two-Birds” while still a student, contributing a column to the “Irish Times” for a quarter of a century, and in […]
125.00
O'BRIEN, Flann. [Na gCOPALEEN, Myles] An Béal Bocht nó An Milleánach.
O’BRIEN, Flann. [Na gCOPALEEN, Myles] An Béal Bocht nó An Milleánach.
O’BRIEN, Flann. [Na gCOPALEEN, Myles] An Béal Bocht nó An Milleánach. Droch-sgéal ar an droch-shaoghal. Curtha i n-eagar le Myles Na gCopaleen. Baile Átha Cliath: Cló Dolmen, 1964. Third edition. pp. 111. Titlepage printed in red and black. Red papered boards, titled in gilt. With map of ‘An Domhan Mór’ on endpapers. A very good […]
95.00
O'BRIEN, Flann. The Dalkey Archive.
O’BRIEN, Flann. The Dalkey Archive.
O’Brien, Flann. The Dalkey Archive. London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1964. First edition. pp. 222. Green papered boards, title in gilt on spine. A near fine copy in a lightly rubbed dust jacket. “Flann O’Brien’s new novel features a master mind, a diffident lover, St. Augustine, a man who is in danger of turning into a […]
285.00
O'BRIEN, Flann. The Hard Life. An exegesis of squalor.
O’BRIEN, Flann. The Hard Life. An exegesis of squalor.
A COMIC GENIUS O’BRIEN, Flann. The Hard Life. An exegesis of squalor. London: Hart-Davis, MacGibbon, 1961. First edition. pp. 156, [1]. Red and black papered boards, title in gilt on spine. Mild foxing to endpapers. A very good copy in a very good pictorial dust jacket. “Had I never heard of the author, and were […]
425.00
O'BRIEN, Flann. The Third Policeman (FIRST EDITION).
O’BRIEN, Flann. The Third Policeman (FIRST EDITION).
FIRST EDITION O’BRIEN, Flann. The Third Policeman. London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1967. First edition. pp. 200. Brown papered boards, title in gilt on spine. A near fine copy in near fine pictorial dust jacket. €875 This work, O’Nolan’s second novel, did the rounds with publishers and met with repeated rejections, causing him such disappointment that […]
850.00
Flann O'Brien
O’BRIEN, Flann [Myles na gCopaleen] At Swim-Two-Birds
O’BRIEN, Flann [Myles na gCopaleen] At Swim-Two-Birds. London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1960. Large post octavo. Second edition. pp. 315, [1]. Black papered boards, title in gilt on spine. A fine copy in near fine un-priced clipped dust jacket. Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966), novelist, journalist, short story writer, playwright and humourist was a native of Strabane, County […]
275.00

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