Polly Devlin

Life
1944- ; b. Ardboe, Co. Tyrone; brought up on a farm on the shore of Lough Neagh; winner of Vogue Magazine Talent Competition in 1964, working afterwards on Vogue in London and New York; interview Dylan Thomas and first profile of Seamus Heaney (her brother-in-law); controversial portrait of Barbara Streisand and long interview with Empress Farah Dibah in Teheran; also John Lennon and Yoko Ono; travelled with Bedu in Arabia; married with three children; her sis. Marie married Heaney. DIW ATT

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Works
Autobiography, All Of Us There: Growing Up in Tyrone (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1983), 192pp. [infra]; The Far Side of the Lough: Stories from an Irish Childhood (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1983; rep. edn. Dublin: O’Brien Press 2000), for children [ill. Ian Newshaw]; Dora, or the Shifts of the Heart (London: Chatto & Windus 1990), novel.

Miscellaneous, The Vogue Book of Fashion Photography (London: Thames & Hudson 1979, 1984 &c); also Dublin (London: Beasley 1993) rep. [American Express Travel Guide] (1994); Only Sometimes Looking Sideways (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1998).

Contrib. to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, ed. John Quinn [RTE 1985] (1986; Mandarin 1990), pp.33-48; review of Sean McMahon, ed., The Derry Anthology (Blackstaff), in The Irish Times (18 Jan. 2003), “Weekend”; introduction to Molly Keane, The Rising Tide [] (London: Virago Press 2006), pp.[i-]xvi.

 

Bibliographical details
All Of Us There: Growing Up in Tyrone
(London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1983; rep. London: Pavanne 1988; rep. Belfast: Blackstaff 1994; rep. Virago 2003), 192pp.

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Commentary
Brian Fallon, reviewing of All of Us There (Blackstaff 1994), writes, ‘Polly Devlin’s account of her Co. Tyrone childhood has been widely praised since its publication eleven years ago’; further remarks, rural Ulster is a world sui generis, and the area close to Lough Neagh in which she grew up as one of seven children seems to have been especially so’; ‘the social and moral legacy of Irish Catholicism is discussed fairly, withou the clichés in which this topic usually has to be dressed up for a predominantly English public.’ (Irish Times, 11, June 1994).

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References
Frank Ormsby, ed., Northern Windows: An Anthology of Ulster autobiography (Belfast: Blackstaff 1987), selects extract from Extract from All of Us There (1983), here pp.207-220

Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Ireland’s Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994), selects extract from Dora (1990).

Books in Print (1994), All of Us There orig. Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1983; rep. Blackstaff 1994 200pp, [086540 532 9]; Dora or the Shifts of the Heart Chatto & Windus 1990 276pp. [0701130199] rep. Arrow Bks 1992 [1994 0 09 991210 4]; Far Side of the Lough, stories from an Irish Childhood Mammoth 1993; n.e. 1994 [0 7497 1248 1]; Vogue Book of Fashion Photography text by Polly Devlin intro. by Alexander Liberman, design by Bea Feitler creative research by Diana Edkins (London: Thames & Hudson 1979; 1984) [0 500 27 33 40]; Dublin (Michell Beasley 1993) rep. [American Express travel guide] (1994) [1 857 32 96 8].

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Quotations
Childhood Country: ‘There was always a great deal of singing, and in the evening [in the pub] we would hear old men singing songs or reciting verses. We knew them all, the singers and the songs, but we thought of them as the embarrassing outbursts of men stocious with drink. Only when we grew up and left home and looked back were we able to appreciate, at an irrevocable remove, the secret life in that deep countryside - the music of a hidden Ireland with its complex harmonies and quavering gracenotes, the passionate concealed underground life of another country whose difference was deceptive, because the common language seemed the same.’ (All Of Us There, 1983, p.117.)

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Notes
Derry home: The Lough Neagh home of the Devlin’s appears remembered in Seamus Heaney's poem “Derry Derry Down” [‘In Annie Devlin’s / Overgrown / Back garden. // In the storybook / Back kitchen / of The Lodge / The full of a white / enamel bucket of little Pears: Still ife / On the red tiles / of that floor. [...]’]

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