Little Red Chairs (O'Brien)

Author Bio
Birth—December 15, 1930
Where—Tuamgraney, County Clare, Ireland
Education—University College, Dublin
Awards—(see below)
Currently— lives in London, England


Edna O'Brien is an Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer. Philip Roth has described her "the most gifted woman now writing in English," while former President of Ireland Mary Robinson has cited her as "one of the great creative writers of her generation."

O'Brien's works often revolve around the inner feelings of women, and their problems in relating to men, and to society as a whole. Her first novel, The Country Girls (1960), is often credited with breaking silence on sexual matters and social issues during a repressive period in Ireland following World War II. The book was banned, burned and denounced from the pulpit, and O'Brien left Ireland behind.

O'Brien now lives in London. She received the Irish PEN Award in 2001. Her 2011 story collection, Saints and Sinners, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the world's richest prize for a short story collection. Her memoir, Country Girl, was published in 2012.

Earlier years
O'Brien was born in 1930 at Tuamgraney, County Clare, Ireland, a place she would later describe as "fervid" and "enclosed." Her family once had money and position, but by the time of her birth in 1930 all of that was gone and life was difficult, all the more so because her father was distant and often drunk. According to O'Brien, her mother was a strong, controlling woman who had emigrated temporarily to America, and worked for a time as a maid in Brooklyn, New York, for a well-off Irish-American family before returning to Ireland to raise her own family.

O'Brien was the youngest in what she called "a strict, religious family." In the years 1941-46 she was educated by the Sisters of Mercy—a circumstance that contributed to a "suffocating" childhood.

I rebelled against the coercive and stifling religion into which I was born and bred. It was very frightening and all pervasive. I'm glad it has gone.

Her 1970 novel, A Pagan Place, centered on her growing-up years. Her mother strongly disapproved of her daughter's career as a writer; in fact, both parents were vehemently opposed to all things related to literature. Her mother even tried to burn a Sean O'Casey book in her daughter's possession.

She studied pharmacy at University College in Dublin, was awarded her license in 1950, and worked as a pharmacist in Dublin for several years. In 1954, she married Irish writer Ernest Gebler against her parents' wishes. The couple moved to London in 1959 where they raised two sons, Carlo and Sasha. The marriage lasted for 10 years and was dissolved in 1964. Gebler died in 1998.

It was during her marriage that O'Brien bought Introducing James Joyce, with an introduction written by T. S. Eliot. Learning that A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was autobiographical, it made her realize that she might turn to writing:  "Unhappy houses are a very good incubation for stories," she said.

She worked for an English publishing house and was eventually advanced £50 to write her own novel. The Country Girls, her first book, was result. Published in 1960, the book became the first in a trilogy which included The Lonely Girl (1962) and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964). Because of their frank portrayal of sex, the books were banned—even burned—in Ireland shortly after publication. Later, in 1987, the three volumes were collected and issued as "The Country Girls Trilogy."

Celebrity life
During the 1960s, O''Brien became a well-known beauty at the center of swinging London, and her glamour and fame became a part of her identity as a writer. She befriended famous celebrities—Paul McCartney, Lord Snowdon, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Maggie Smith, and Samuel Beckett. She had a house in Carlyle Square which was often filled with the great names, from Harold Wilson to Ingrid Bergman.

In New York her experiences also glittered with celebrities—historian and Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger, Al Pacino, Norman Mailer—and with a rewarding, and vivid, friendship with Jacqueline Onassis, who once told Edna that she was one of the three people in the world she loved most

Legacy
According to Scottish novelist Andrew O'Hagan, her place in Irish letters is assured. "She changed the nature of Irish fiction; she brought the woman's experience and sex and internal lives of those people on to the page, and she did it with style, and she made those concerns international." Irish novelist Colum McCann avers that O'Brien has been "the advance scout for the Irish imagination" for over fifty years.

Novels
The Country Girls (1960) ♦ The Lonely Girl (later Girl with Green Eyes, 1962) ♦ Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964) ♦ August Is a Wicked Month (1965) ♦ Casualties of Peace (1966) ♦ A Pagan Place (1970) ♦  Zee & Co. (1971) ♦ Night (1972) ♦ Johnny I Hardly Knew You (1977) ♦ The High Road (1988) ♦ Time and Tide (1992) ♦ House of Splendid Isolation (1994) ♦ Down by the River (1996) ♦ Wild Decembers (1999) ♦ In the Forest (2002) ♦ The Light of Evening (2006) ♦ The Little Red Chairs (2015).

Short story collections
The Love Object and Other Stories (1968) ♦ A Scandalous Woman and Other Stories (1974) ♦ Mrs Reinhardt and Other Stories (1978) ♦ Some Irish Loving (1979) ♦ Returning (1982) ♦ A Fanatic Heart (1985) ♦ Lantern Slides (1990) ♦ Saints and Sinners (2011) ♦ The Love Object: Selected Stories (2013, a fifty-year retrospective)
   
Nonfiction
Mother Ireland (1976) ♦ James Joyce (1999-biography) ♦ Byron in Love (2009-biography) ♦ Country Girl (2012, memoir)

Poetry
On the Bone (1989) ♦ "Watching Obama" (2009-poem, The Daily Beast)

Awards and honors
Kingsley Amis Award (1962-The Country Girls) ♦ Premio Grinzane Cavour (1991-Girl with Green Eyes) ♦ European Prize for Literature (1995-House of Splendid Isolation) ♦ Irish PEN Award (2001) ♦ Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award (2009) ♦ Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award (2011-Saints and Sinners) ♦ Irish Book Awards-Irish NonFiction (2012-Country Girl)
(Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 4/21/2016.)

Site by BOOM Boom Supercreative

LitLovers © 2019