Donn Byrne

Life

1889-1928; b. 20 Nov., New York, d. Cork; raised South Antrim glens [Co. Antrim]; ed. America from age 11, and after at UCD, Leipzig and Paris; America 1911 and after; his wrote a series of chiefly romantic novels incl. Stranger’s Banquet (1919): Foolish Matrons (1920), filmed in 1921; The Changling and Other Stories (1923) ; Blind Raftery (1924) ; O’Malley of Shanganagh (1925); Hangman’s House (1925); Destiny Bay (1928) - made into the first British technicolour feature film as Wings of the Morning (1937)- and Power of the Dog (1929); The Golden Coast [?recte Goat] (1930);
 
issued Brother Saul (1925), and Messer Marco Polo (1922), trans. into Irish by Seán Mac Maoláin (1930); wrote much short fiction, mainly for New York magazines; The Rock Whence I was Hewn (1929) gives an autobiographical view of Ireland; d. in car accident at Courtmacsherry Bay, Co. Cork, 18 June, shortly after acquiring Coolmain Castle as a home; rep. edition of his works was in progress at the time of his death and proceeded after; called a son St. John. DIW DIL KUN DUB OCIL

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Works
Fiction
  • Stories Without Women (NY: Heart’s International Library 1915);
  • The Stranger’s Banquet (NY: Harper’s 1919);
  • The Foolish Matrons (NY: Harper’s 1920; London: Sampson Low 1923);
  • Messer Marco Polo (NY: Century; London: Sampson Low 1922);
  • The Wind Bloweth (NY: Century; London: Sampson Low 1922);
  • Changling and Other Stories (NY: Century 1923; London: Sampson Low 1924);
  • Blind Raftery and his Wife Hilaria (NY: Century 1924; London: Sampson Low 1925);
  • O’Malley of Shanganagh (NY: Century 1925), published in Britain as An Untitled Story (London: Sampson Low 1925);
  • Hangman’s House (NY: Century; London: Sampson Low 1925);
  • Brother Saul (NY: Century; London: Sampson Low 1927);
  • Crusade (Boston: Little, Brown; London: Sampson Low 1928) [stories];
  • The Power of the Dog (London: Sampson Low 1929), published in USA as Field of Honor (NY: Century 1929);
  • The Golden Goat (London: Sampson Low 1930).
Travel
  • Ireland, The Rock Whence I Was Hewn (Boston: Little, Brown; London: Sampson Low 1929), travel;

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Criticism
Thurston Macauley, Donn Byrne, Bard of Armagh (NY & London: Century 1930) ; Winthrop Wetherbee, Donn Byrne: A Bibliography (NY: Public Library 1949). See also Irish Book Lover, Vols. 16, 17.

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References
Kevin Rockett
, et al., eds., Cinema & Ireland (1988), cites Hangman’s House (1928), dir. John Ford and made in Ireland; further, Destiny Bay was adapted by Tom Geraghty, John Meehan, and Brinsley MacNamara as script for Wings of the Morning (Harold Schuster 1937), being Britain’s first Technicolor feature; it concerns marriage of Irish nobleman to à gipsy in 1889, and romance among his descendants; score sung by John McCormack. Note also, Dorothea Donn Byrne’s story Irish and Proud of It was filmed in 1936; also Land of Her Fathers, directed by John Hurley in 1925.

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Anthony Slide, Cinema in Ireland (1988), remarks that because of its director (John Ford), its star (Janet Gaynor) and its source (Donn Byrne), Hangman’s House, released by William Fox in the spring of 1928, remains one of the most important “Irish” films in the United States in the 1920s; ‘it did not burlesque the Irish ... did not oversentimentalise ... handled the subject with restraint [and] created a believable atmosphere [in] a melodrama without melodramatics (p.108). The actors in Hangman’s House are here listed as June Collyer, Larry Kent, Victor McLaglen, and Hobart Bosworth, with a plate of the first-named three (p.65, 67). Donn-Byrne called himself ‘the last traditional Irish novelist’; he despised the United States and the Sinn Feiners and was ‘a staunch Orangeman’ who wrote of revolution as ‘a gallant, chivalrous adventurer in our foolish, romantic hears’ (foreword to Hangman’s House). Slide writes, ‘it is little wonder that he was branded synthetic and a professional Irishman’. Some nine feature films are based on [his] novels and stories, Dangerous Hours (1919), The Bride’s Play (1921), Foolish Matrons (1921) The Woman God Changed (1921); The Stranger’s Banquet (1922); Blarney (1926); Hangman’s House (1928); His Captive Woman (1929), and Wings of the Morning (1937).

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Booksellers
Hyland Books (Cat. 260, 2011), lists Blind Raftery and His Wife Hilaria” [1st edn.] (London) [cover marked, text good: €20]; The Wind Bloweth [1st edn.] (NY George Bellow 1922), ill. [v.g.: €27]; O’Malley of Shanganagh [1st edn. (NY: John R. Flanagan 1925), ills. [v.g.: €25]; “Hangman’s House” [1st edn.} (NY John R. Flanagan 1926), ills. [good: €22]; "Ireland, The Rock Whence I Was Hewn (1929), ills., map. [v.g.: €23]; Crusade [1st public edn.]; (Boston 1929), [d/w., v.g.: €28]; Crusade [1st public edn. (Boston 1929) [v.g.: €23].

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