Reading famous literature is such an amazing experience. But did you know many world famous authors were Irish?
Realizing that someone decades, hundreds, or even thousands of years ago wrote something that can still bring us into a new world, touch our hearts, engross us, and teach us important lessons is so inspiring.
Whether you’re into the classics or prefer something a little more modern, you’ve probably heard of a lot of Irish writers without knowing it!
Here, I’m going to share a list of 7 authors you probably didn’t know were Irish. Some are considered British writers, but all seven were born in Ireland.
Let me know if any of these were a surprise to you!
Oscar Wilde was an author who wrote poetry, books, short stories, fairy tales, and plays in the 1800’s. His best-known book is The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was published in 1891, only 9 years before Wilde’s death in 1900, and his most popular play is The Importance of Being Earnest, which was published in 1895.
His subsequent works won numerous awards, even though they were produced during the last decade of his life.
Wilde was known for being flamboyant and creative, and was thrown in jail for being part of the LGBT community near the end of his life, because that lifestyle was not accepted in English culture at the time.
C.S. Lewis is a prominent 20th century Christian author. His most famous work is The Chronicles of Narnia, but he also wrote Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and many other books.
Although he is known for his new life in England, it is a little-known fact that he was born in Ireland!
He was Anglican, and enjoyed writing allegories that taught Christianity through fiction, as well as theology books.
Flannery O’Connor is a 20th century short story writer. She wrote a book of short stories called A Good Man is Hard to Find in 1955, and another short story collection called Everything that Rises Must Converge in 1965.
Although Flannery spent her formative years in America, both of her parents were of Irish descent. They were both Catholic immigrants to the United States, and you can visit her childhood home to this day in Savannah, Georgia, since she is one of the most famous of all Irish-American writers.
W. B. Yeats
William Butler Yeats is a 20th century poet who is known for being a very prolific poet. Some of his most famous poems are The Second Coming, Leda and the Swan, The Stolen Child, and He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.
W. B. Yeats lived from 1865-1939, and before his death he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. He is known as one of the greatest poets of all time.
Jonathan Swift was an author who lived from 1667-1745. If you thought he was British, that makes sense, because he did spend a lot of his life in England, but he was born in Dublin, Ireland. He wrote Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal, two pieces of Irish writing which you are likely familiar with.
He also wrote poetry, essays, and political satire. In fact, Gulliver’s Travels is known as a satirical evaluation of English culture and politics.
If the classics aren’t your cup of tea, this one’s for you! Eoin Colfer, the bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series, which got high praise in the last decade, along with the recent novel Iron Man: The Gauntlet, is an Irish author that is well-known in recent years! He was born in 1965, and is still alive and writing today.
If you or someone you know is a superhero fan who hasn’t read his Iron Man sequel, it’s something you should definitely check out! The book takes place in Ireland, and draws some information from Colfer’s own experiences, so it’s a good modern option for people who want to connect with their Irish heritage.
Ironically, Colfer said his book is much more likely to gain traction in America than in Ireland, as Irish heritage is less interested in superhero stories. This makes it the perfect book for Irish Americans!
We previously featured Colfer’s middle grade novel, The Dog Who Lost His Bark.
James Joyce is known as one of the top Irish authors in all of history. He wrote Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in the 20th century, and he is known for being a part of the modernist avant-garde movement in Irish literature.
He also wrote a collection of short stories called Dubliners, about normal people in Irish society based on his personal stories from middle-class life in Dublin at the time.
All of these authors are important figures in Irish history. Which of the authors on this list surprised you?
If you like literature and poetry, and especially Irish poetry here are some ramblings you might enjoy…
Happy reading to all.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad –Irish American Mom
Pronunciation – slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad – rhymes with parade
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