Sean O'Casey

Sean O'Casey (shôn), 1884–1964, Irish dramatist, one of the great figures of the Irish literary renaissance. A Protestant, he grew up in the slum district of Dublin and was active in various socialist movements and in the rebellions for Irish independence. His first plays, The Shadow of a Gunman (1923), Juno and the Paycock (1924), and The Plough and the Stars (1926), were performed by the Abbey Players with great success. These grim, satiric, and often violent tragicomedies are usually considered O'Casey's most brilliant works. They all treat aspects of the Irish movement for independence, and they are not always kind to the Irish people. The Plough and the Stars, with its unsympathic treatment of the participants in the Easter Rebellion, touched off a riot in the theater, and after this event O'Casey left Ireland for England, never to return. His later plays, more experimental and expressionistic, include The Silver Tassie (rejected by the Abbey Theatre in 1928, but successfully produced in London and New York in 1929), Within the Gates (1934), Purple Dust (1940), Red Roses for Me (1942), and The Bishop's Bonfire (1955). All of O'Casey's plays exhibit a mastery of language and an unsentimental sympathy for the poor. His six autobiographical volumes—I Knock at the Door (1939), Pictures in the Hallway (1942), Drums under the Windows (1945), Inishfallen, Fare Thee Well (1949), Rose and Crown (1952), and Sunset and Evening Star (1954)—were collectively published as Mirror in My House (2 vol., 1956). He also wrote a book of drama criticism, The Green Crow (1956). His collected plays appeared in four volumes in 1949–51.

See biographies by M. B. Marguiles (1970) and by his wife, Eileen O'Casey (1972); studies by R. Hogan (1960) and J. Simmons (1984).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Green and the Red: Sean O'Casey . . . the Man and His Plays
Jules Koslow.
Arts, Inc., 1950
Selected Plays of Sean O'Casey
Sean O'Casey.
G. Braziller, 1954
Librarian’s tip: "The Shadow of a Gunman," "Juno and the Paycock," "The Plough and the Stars," "The Silver Tassie," "Within the Gates," "Purple Dust," "Red Roses for Me," "Bedtime Story," and "Time to Go"
More Real Than Reality: The Fantastic in Irish Literature and the Arts
Donald E. Morse; Csilla Bertha.
Greenwood Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: "The Uses of the Fantastic in the Later Plays of Sean O'Casey" begins on p. 151
The Politics of Irish Drama: Plays in Context from Boucicault to Friel
Nicholas Grene.
Cambridge University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Class and Space in O'Casey"
British Drama since Shaw
Emil Roy.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1972
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Sean O'Casey"
Ireland, the Great War, and the Geography of Remembrance
Nuala C. Johnson.
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Dramatising War: Sean O'Casey's The Silver Tassie" begins on p. 115
Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook
Bernice Schrank; William W. Demastes.
Greenwood Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Sean O'Casey (1880-1964)" begins on p. 253
Modern Irish Writers: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Alexander G. Gonzalez.
Greenwood Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Sean O'Casey (1880-1964)" begins on p. 300
The Flying Wasp
Sean O'Casey.
MacMillan, 1937
The Green Crow
Sean O'Casey.
G. Braziller, 1956
Windfalls: Stories, Poems, and Plays
Sean O'Casey.
MacMillan, 1934
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