SYNGE, John M. Plays (DOUBLE ASSOCIATION COPY A GIFT FROM EDWARD MARTYN TO HAZEL LAVERY! WITH MARTYN’S BOOKPLATE & SIGNED BY LADY LAVERY(

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Dublin and London: Maunsel & Roberts, 1919. Crown octavo. pp. [vi], 377. Quarter linen on grey boards, title on printed label on tanned spine. Signature of Hazel Lavery (wife of the painter John Lavery) on front endpaper and with Edward Martyn’s armorial bookplate on front pastedown. A very good copy with a unique double provenance. A most interesting double association copy. Presumably the initial owner was Edward Martyn, who must have given it to Hazel Lavery (whose maiden name was Martyn). It would be interesting to know where and how they met; perhaps it had something to do with Lady Gregory.
Edward Martyn, from a wealthy Catholic family in east Galway, was himself a playwright. He was involved in the early stages of what became the Abbey Theatre, and paid its bills for a few years, but withdraw after disagreements with George Moore (previously a close friend) and Yeats, and started the Theatre of Ireland group. He founded a Palestrina choir in Dublin, and was one of the founders of the Feis Ceoil. He was far from being a ladies’ man (he died unmarried), and one would not expect to meet him in the company of Hazel Lavery, the American-born wife of the painter. She is best known for her rumoured (but unproven) association with Michael Collins, also her well-documented affair with Kevin O’Higgins, and through the use of her profile in the new Irish currency of the late 1920s.
The present copy, issued with the pages untrimmed, has been carefully opened throughout. Martyn must have had a large library, but his bookplate is rare.
Hazel Lavery (1880-1935), Lady Lavery, artist, model, actress and socialite, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Edward Jenner Martyn, a self-made man who became vice president of Armour & Co. (a successful meat packing firm) and vice-president and director of the Union Stock Yard and Transit Company of Chicago, and Alice Louise (née Taggart), daughter of John (‘J. P.’) Taggart a hardware merchant of Fond du Lac, Ripon, Wisconsin. Hazel was educated at Sleboth-Kennedy School, Chicago, Kemper Hall, Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Miss Masters, Dobbs Ferry, New York. She studied etching in Paris in 1902. In December 1903 she married Dr Edward (‘Ned’) Livingston Trudeau junior, son of the founder of the tuberculosis sanatorium in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. She was widowed in May 1904 following Ned Trudeau’s untimely death from an embolism. Her daughter Alice Trudeau was born on 10 October 1904 in Chicago. Alice spent most of her life in Ireland and her second marriage was to the historian Denis Gwynn.
In 1909 Hazel Martyn Trudeau married Belfast-born artist John Lavery - it was also his second marriage. They had met in 1903 in the artists’ colony of Beg-Meil in Brittany, when she was engaged to Trudeau. Living at 5 Cromwell Place, South Kensington, Hazel quickly became a well-known figure in London’s political, artistic and literary circles. Strikingly beautiful, she became a noted fashion innovator, firstly at the fancy dress balls in vogue before the Great War and later at the tableaux vivants fundraisers for the war effort. The Laverys first visit to Ireland was in 1914. John described in his autobiography that she had a “romantic view’ Ireland conjured, he said, from the pages of literature - the Ireland of Yeats, James Stephens, AE, Lennox Robinson, Synge and the rest”. This book of plays would have been one the volumes which created her view of Ireland, which John said was as “unreal as a mirage in the desert.”
When Sir John was invited to design an image for the Irish Free State’s banknotes he chose to rework a painting of Hazel as the representation of Cathleen Ní Houlihan, the female personification of Ireland. His painting ‘Killarney’, in which she wears a traditional black shawl and leans on a harp. Hazel Lavery died on 1 January 1935 in London. She and John Lavery had no children together.
Contents: The Shadow of the Glen; Riders to the Sea; The Well of the Saints; The Tinker’s Wedding; The Playboy of the Western World & Deirdre of the Sorrows.

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