[Lord] Edward Dunsany (1878-1957)

[Edward Martin Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron; Lord Dunsany]; b. 24 July 1878, 15 Park Sq. (Regent’s Park), London; London, a Plunkett of Meath, ed. locally in Kent, then at Cheam, then Eton & Sandhurst; succeeded as 18th Baron, 1899, Coldstream Guards, posted in Gibraltar; saw extensive action in Boer War; formed lifelong friendship with Rudyard Kipling; m Lady Beatrice Villiers, dg. of 7th Earl of Jersey, 1904, to whom he dicatated his work at speed thereafter; inherited Dunsany Castle, the family seat at Dunshaughlin; travelled widely; fantasy, The Gods of Pegana (1905), Time and the Gods (1906), The Sword of Welleran (1908), A Dreamer’s Tales (1910), A Book of Wonder (1912) and Tales of Wonder (1916), written as an escape from the ‘world of blood and mud and khaki’;
completed commissioned Abbey play, The Glittering Gate (29th April, 1909), with Fred O’Donovan and Norreys Connell, in which two dead burglars endlessly await admittance to heaven; wrote other Abbey plays, King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior (26 Jan. 1911), with O’Donovan, Kerrigan, Ambrose Power, Brinsley Macnamara, Sinclair, Sara Allgood, Maire O’Neill, Maire Nic Shuibhlaigh, and others; The Lost Silk Hat (1913), comedy; Dunsany was shot in the face near the Four Courts while going to report to crown forces, 1916, and recuperated at Ebrington Barracks, Londonderry; Last Book of Wonder (1916); Tales of War (1918), stories; created Jorkens, a lying vulgarian who spins yarns to skeptical audience in the ‘Billiards Club’ (London), continuing through 5 collections; plays including Atalanta in Wimbledon, published in 1928;
travelled widely in Europe, Africa and India; lectured widely in America during interwar period; chess champion; collaborated with illustrator S. H. Sime on numerous fantasy works; regarded by Sean O’Faolain as a master of the short story, and patron of many Irish writers, notably Francis Ledwidge and Mary Lavin; wrote numerous plays dealing with the supernatural; incumbent of Byronic Chair of Literature at the University of Athens at outbreak of war and German invasion; among those whose opinion of Yeats was recruited at his death in Jan. 1939; gave the Donnellan lecture, 1943; d. 25 Oct. 1957. NCBE OCEL KUN IF2 DIL KUN DIW DIB OCIL FDA

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  • Plays of Gods and Men (Dublin: Talbot; Boston: John W. Luce & Co. 1917).
  • If (London: Fisher Unwin 1921), another edn. [Knickerbocker Press] (NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons 1922), 185pp.
  • Plays of Far and Near (London & NY: Putnam 1922).
  • Alexander (London & NY: Putnam 1925).
  • Seven Modern Comedies (London & NY: Putnam 1928).
  • Mr. Faithful (London: Samuel French 1935).
  • Plays for Earth and Air (London: Heinemann 1937).
  • Mirage Water (London & NY: Putnam 1938).
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  • Fifty Poems (London & NY: Putnam 1929).
  • War Poems (London: Hutchinson 1940).
  • Wandering Songs (London: Hutchinson 1943).
  • A Journey (London: MacDonald & Co.1944), 95pp.
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Shorter Fiction
  • The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories (London: George Allen 1908).
  • A Dreamer’s Tales (London: George Allen 1910), 252pp.; Do. [another edn.], introduced by Padraic Colum (NY: Boni & Liveright n.d.]), 221pp. [infra], and Do. [rep. edn.] (Philadelphia: Olswick Press 1979) [incl. “Poltarnees, Beholder of Ocean”].
  • The Book of Wonder: A Chronicle of Little Adventures at the Edge of the World (London: Heinemann 1912), 135pp. ill.S. H. Sime [PGIL pencilled date 1915].
  • Fifty-One Tales (London: Elkin Mathews; NY: Mitchell Kennerley 1915 MCMXV).
  • Tales of Wonder (London: Elkin Mathews 1916), ill. S. H. Sime.
  • The Last Book of Wonder (1916), 213pp.; Do. [rep. edn.] (NY: Books for Libraries Press 1969) [incl. “A Tale of London”].
  • Tales of War (Dublin: Talbot Press 1918).
  • Unhappy Far-off Things (London: Elkin Mathews 1919).
  • Tales of Three Hemispheres (London: Fisher Unwin 1920), and Do., rep. with foreword by H. P. Lovecraft (Philadelphia 1975).
  • The Old Folk of the Centuries (London: Elkin Mathews 1930).
  • The Travel Tales of Mr. Joseph Jorkans (London & NY: Putnam 1931), viii, 1-[305]pp.
  • The Little Tales of Smethers (London & NY: Jarrolds 1952).
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  • Gods of Pegana (London: Elkin Mathews 1905) illustrated by S. H. Sime.
  • Time and the Gods (London: Heinemann 1906).
  • The Chronicles of Rodriguez (London & NY: Putnam 1922), ill. S. H. Sime [2nd edn. also 1922].
  • The King of Elfland’s Daughter (London & NY: Putnam 1924).
  • Up in the Hills (London: Heinemann 1925) [var. 1935].
  • The Charwoman’s Shadow (London: Putnam’s Sons 1926), 339pp.
  • The Blessing of Pan (London & NY: Putnam 1927).
  • Lord Adrian (Cranberry NJ: Golden Cockerel Press 1933).
  • The Curse of the Wise Woman (London: Heinemann 1933), 326pp., Do., another edn. (NY: Longmans, Green & Co. 1933), 309pp. [see extracts].
  • Rory and Bran (London: Heinemann 1936).
  • The Sirens Wake (London & NY: Jarrolds [1945]), 159pp., photo port. [war economy imprint].
  • The Story of Mona Sheehy (London: Heinemann 1939.
  • rep. London & NY: Jarrolds 1945) [Heinemann edn. 334pp.].
  • Mr Jorkans Remembers Africa (London: Heinemann 1934).
  • Jorkens has a Large Whiskey (London & NY: Putnam 1940).
  • The Fourth Book of Jorkans (London & NY: Jarrolds 1947).
  • The Man Who Ate the Phoenix (London & NY: Jarrolds 1947) [var. 1949].
  • The Strange Journeys of Colonel Polders (London & NY: Jarrolds 1950).
  • Jorkens Borrows Another Whiskey (London: Michael Joseph 1954).
  • His Fellow Men (London & NY: Jarrolds 1952).
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  • If I were a Dictator (London: Methuen 1934).
  • My Talks with Dean Spanley (London: Heinemann 1936) .
  • My Ireland [My Country Series] (London & NY: Jarrold’s 1937), 31 ills. [infra].
  • Patches of Sunlight (London: Heinemann 1938).
  • Guerrilla (London: Heinemann 1944), another edn. (NY: Bobbs Merrill Co. 1944), 251pp.
  • While the Sirens Slept (London & NY: Jarrolds 1944), 151pp. [memoir of 1930s, travels in USA, Cairo, and Himalayas].
  • The Donnellan Lecture 1943 (TCD 1945).
  • A Glimpse from the Watchtower (London & NY: Jarrolds 1946).
  • The Odes of Horace, translated into English Verse (London: Heinemann 1947). To Awaken Pegasus (Oxford: G. Ronald 1949).
  • The Last Revolution (London & NY: Jarrolds 1951).
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  • intro. Songs of Peace, by Francis Ledwidge (London: Herbert Jenkins 1917).
  • ed. & intro., Songs of the Fields, by Francis Ledwidge (London: Herbert Jenkins 1918).
  • ed. & intro., and The Complete Poems of Francis Ledwidge (London: Jenkins 1919; rep. 1955).
  • Foreword to The Farm by Lough Gur, by Mary Carbery (London: Longmans 1937).
  • Foreword to Tales from Bective Bridg, by Mary Lavin (London: Michael Joseph 1942).
  • Foreword to Green and Gold, by Mary Hamilton (London: Wingate 1948).
Collected & Selected

W. B. Yeats, ed. & intro., Selections from the Writings of Lord Dunsany, chosen by W. B. Yeats (Dundrum: Cuala Press 1912), 98pp., 8°, and Do. [facs. rep.] (Shannon: IUP 1971), [16], 99pp.;

Note: W. B. Stanford cites Lord Dunsany, [Odes of] Horace (1947) in Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1984).

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In translation
  • Le Livre des Merveilles [first trans. 1912; 1924] [Terres fantastiques ser.] (Paris: Terre de Brume 1998), 102pp.
  • Vent du Nord [Curse of the Wise Woman] (France: Terre de Brume 1997), 190pp.

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Bibliographical details
My Ireland [“My Country” Series] (London & NY: Jarrold’s 1937), 285pp., ill. CONTENTS: 1. “A.E.”; II. “Tara”; III. “St. “Patrick”; IV. “Old Mickey”; V. “Francis Ledwidge” [pp.53-67]; VI. “How the Students Came to Trim”; VII. “A Lapse of Memory”; VIII. “Jack-Snipe”; IX. “Woodcock”; X. “Gray Lags”; XI. “Business”; XII. “John Watson”; XIII. “The State of the Moon”; XIV. “Swans”; XV. “A Bit of Philosophy Strays into the Wrong Book”; XVI. “Snipe”; XVII. “Sitting for Duck”; XVIII. “Golden Plover”; XIX. “Weeds and Moss”; XX. “The Wind and the Wet Against the Cottages”; XXI. “Only about the Weather”; XXII. “A Great Hunt”; XXIII. “A Bad Night To Be Out”; XXIV. “St Stephen”; XXV. “A Ride to Leixlip”; XXVI. “Diving with the Ward”; XXVII. “Magic”; XXVIII. “Cricket”; XXIX. “Dublin”; XXX. “A Conversation in London”; XXXI. “Growing Oats in the Rain”; XXXII. “Farewell”. 31 ills. incl. “The Author” [front. port. photo of Dunsany in riding coat at studded Gothic door of castle], “Dunsany Church”, “Dr. Gogarty”, “Donegal Square Belfast”, “Cottage under the Mountain”, “Peasant Woman and Donkey”, “Stacking Turf”, “Source of the Boyne”, “Mountains of Mourne”, &c.

A Dreamer’s Tales and Other Stories, introduced by Padraic Colum (NY: Boni & Liveright Inc. [n.d.]), 212pp.; front. pencil port.” [in army uniform]. CONTENTS, ‘Introduction’,” [xiii]; “Poltarnees, Beholder Of Ocean” [1]; “Blagdaross” [14]; “The Madness of Andelsprutz” [19]; “Where the Tides Ebb and Flow” [24]; “Bethmoora” [30]; “Idle Days on the Yann” [35]; “The Sword and the Idol” [[53]; “The Idle City” [60]; “The Hashish Man” [66]; “Poor Old Bill” [72]; “The Beggars” [78]; “Carcassonne” [82]; “In Zaccaroth” [95]; “The Field” [99]; “The Day of the Poll” [103]; “The Unhappy Body” [107]; “The Sword of Welleran” [111]; “The Fall of Babbulkund” [127]; “The Kith of the Elf-Folks” [142]; “The Highwayman” [159]; “In The Twilight” [165]; “the Ghosts” [170]; “The Whirlpool” [175]; “The Hurricane” [178]; “The Fortress Unvanquishable Save for Sacnoth” [180]; “The Lord of Cities” [199]; “The Doom of La Traviata” [207]; “On Dry Land” [2I0]. Title verso note, ‘the authorised American Editions of Dunsany’s tales are published by John W. Luce & Company.” [lists The Gods of Pegana, Time and the Gods, The Book of Wonder, The Sword of Welleran, A Dreamer’s Tales, and The Last Book of Wonder.]

Georgian Poetry 1911-1912 (London: The Poetry Bookshop MCMXVIII [1918]); printed by W. H. Smith [title facing ‘published December, 1912’], ded. to Robert Bridges by the Writers and the Editor; Prefatory Note to First Edition [‘issued in the belief that English poetry is now once again putting on a new strength and beauty … another Georgian period which may take rank in due time with the several great poetic ages of the past’: E.M.] The volume includes an untitled notice by Dunsany [see under Quotations, infra]. Other contribs. include Lascelles Abercrombie; Gordon Bottomly; Rupert Brooke [“The Old Vicarage”, “Grantchester”, et al.]; Gilbert K. Chesterton; William H. Davies; Walter de la Mare; John Drinkwater; James Elroy Flecker; Wilfrid Wilson Gibson; D. H. Lawrence; John Masefield; Harold Monro; T. Sturge Moore; Ronald Ross; Edmund Beale Sargant; James Stephens [“In the Poppy Field”; “In the Cool of the Evening”; “The Lonely God” - all from The Hill of Vision]; Robert Calverley Trevelyan; Bibiography.

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  • Edward Hale Bierstadt, Dunsany the Dramatist (Boston: Little, Brown 1917).
  • Ernest A. Boyd, Appreciations and Depreciations (Dublin: Talbot, 1917; Freeport, NY: John Lane 1918).
  • Hazel Littlefield, Lord Dunsany: King of Dreams: A Personal Portrait (NY: Exposition 1959).
  • Mark Amory, A Biography of Lord Dunsany (London: Collins 1972).
  • Howard Phillips Lovecraft, ‘Lord Dunsany and his Work”, in Marginalia (Sauk City: Arkham House 1922), pp.148-60.
  • George Brandon Saul, ‘Strange Gods in Far Places: The Short Stories of Lord Dunsany’, in Arizona Quarterly (Autumn 1963). pp.197-210.
  • Max Duperray, ‘“The Land of Unlikely Events”: L’Irlande de Lord Dunsany’, Études Irlandaises, 5 (Lille Nov. 1975) [q.pp.].
  • Darrell Schweitzer, ‘The Novels of Lord Dunsany’, in Mythlore, 7 (Autumn 1980), pp.39 42.
  • Brent Cantrell, ‘British Fairy Tradition in The King of Elfand’s Daughter’, in The Romantist, 4-5 (1980/81), pp.51-53.
  • Duperray, ‘Lord Dunsany, sa place dans une éventuelle littérature fantastique irlandaise’, in Études Irlandaises, 9 (1984), pp.81-89.
  • Warren S. Walker, ‘“Tales That One Never Wants to Hear” - A Sample from Dunsany’, in Studies in Short Fiction, 22 (Fall 1985), pp.449-54.
  • Susan Bassnett, “From Gods to Giants - Theatrical Parallels between Edward Dunsany and Luigi Pirandello”, in The Yearbook of the British Pirandello Society, 6 (1986), pp.40-49.
  • Angelee Sailer Anderson, ‘Lord Dunsany: The Potency of Words and the wonder of Things’, Mythlore, 55 (Autumn 1988), pp.10-12.
  • S. T. Joshi, Lord Dunsany: Master of the Anglo-Irish Imagination (NJ: Greenwood Press 1995), 248pp.
  • Norm Gayford, ‘The Influence of Two Dunsany Plays’, in Lovecraft Studies, 19-20 (Fall 1989), pp.49-55, 62.
  • Schweitzer, ‘Lord Dunsany: Visions of Wonder’, in Studies in Weird Fiction, 5 (Spring 1989), pp.20-26.
  • S. T. Joshi, The Weird Tale (Texas UP 1990) [incl. chapter on Dunsany].
  • Donald R. Burleson, ‘On Dunsany’s “Probable Adventure of the Three Literary Men”’, in Studies in Weird Fiction, 10 (Fall 1991), pp.23-26.
  • Schweitzer, ‘How Much of Dunsany Is Worth Reading?’, in Studies in Weird Fiction, 10 (Fall 1991), pp.19-23.
  • Joshi, S. T. & Schweitzer, Lord Dunsany: A Bibliography (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow 1993).

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Padraic Colum, Introduction to A Dreamer’s Tales and Other Stories (NY: Boni and Liveright Inc. [n.d.]: Introduction, ‘praising the work of a young poet who belonged to his own territory in Ireland - the County meath. He spoke of that country with such gusto that one felt that Dunsany himself would put the fact that he was a Meath man before the fact that he was an Irishman. Meath is Ireland’s middle county. It has the richest soil, and for that reason it has been fought for by every conquistadore ... It was the demense of the Ard-ri, the Imperator of the Celtic-Irish states. [xiii]; speaks of Dunsany’s two Abbey plays as bringing ‘into the theatre the impressive simplicity of his myths and stories’ and ‘the sense of exalted speech’ [xiv]’ ‘We are all fictionalists nowadays: Lord Dunsany, however, is that rare creature in literature, the fabulist. He does not aim at imposing forms on what we call reality - graceful, impressive or significant forms; he aims at transporting us from this reality altogether’; ‘One can hardly detect a social idea in his work. There is one there, however. It is one of unrelenting hostility to everything that impoverishes man’s imagination - to mean cities, to commercial interests, to a culture that arises out of material organisation. He dwells forever on things that arose the imagination - upon swords and cities, upon temples and palaces, upon slaves in their revolt and kings in their unhappiness. He has the mind of a myth-maker and he can give ships and cities and whirpools vast and proper shapes. [xvii] / It is easy to find his literary origins - they are the Bible, Homer and Heroditus. He made the Bible his book of wonder when he was young, being induced to do this by a censorship his mother had set up - she was adverse, as he tells us, to his reading newspapers and current periodicals. From the Bible he has got his rhythmic, exalted prose. He took from it too the themes that he has so often repeated - fair and unbelieving cities with their prophets. and their heathen kings. Homer he loves and often repeats, and the accounts of early civilizations that Heroditus gives delights him. I do not think he reads much modern literature, and I am certain that he reads none of the philosophic, sociological and economic works that fill the bookshops to-day. He would not judge a book by its cover, but he would, I am sure, judge it by its title. I have seen him become enraptured by titles of two books that were being reviewed at the time. One was “The High Deeds of Finn”, and the other “The History of the East Roman Empire from the Accession of Irene to the Fall of Basil the Third” (I am not sure I have got the Byzantine sovereigns in right). He has a prodigal imagination. I have watched him sketch a scenario for a play, write a little story, and invent a dozen incidents for tales, in the course of a morning, all the time talking imaginatively. He thinks best, I imagine, in the open air while he is shooting or hunting around his Castle. And he exercises a very gracious hospitality in that twelfth century castle of his in the County Meath, and he would travel a long way a-foot, I know, to find a good talker that he could bring into the circle. It is a long time now since an ancient historian in Ireland wrote into “The Annals of the Four Masters”, “There be two great robber barons on the road to Drogheda, Dunsany and Fingall; and if you save yourself from the hands of Fingall, you will assuredly fall into the hands of Dunsany.” (Padraic Colum New York, August, 1917). [xviii]. Also cites W. B. Yeats, ‘Had I read “The Fall of Babbulkund” or “Idle Days on the Yann” when I was a boy [...] I had perhaps been changed for better or worse, and looked to that first reading as the creation of my world; for when we are young the less circumstantial, the further from common life a book is, the more does it touch our hearts and make us dream. We are [xvi] idle, unhappy, exorbitant, and like the young Blake admit no city beautiful that is not paved with gold and silver.’ (Colum, op. cit., pp.xv-xvi.)

Heinemann, publisher’s notice on The Curse of the Wise Woman (1933): ‘Lord Dunsany offers us once more, in his new story, The Curse of the Wise Woman, that beguiling blend of actuality, protective humour and complete fantasy which is so characteristic of his imagination. Nothing is really what it seems in this deceptive world of his, and at an unwary step we may find ourselves in fairyland. The father of Charles James Peridore vanished at midnight from his ancestral library, and a minute later the four dark men who had come from the bogs to murder him delayed piously to swear the young heir upon a chip of the True Cross which was preserved in this Irish country house. We are almost disappointed on finding that this circumspect landlord of the ‘eighties had not been spirited away, but had availed himself of one of those secret doors which have been constructed by so many writers of ingenious fiction. The reader who wondered why the descendant of a family which had remained loyal to the unhappy Stuarts should leave his son among dangers and treachery would be equally wrong. We are back in a vanished Ireland of traditional Irresponsibilities and “contrariness.” So Master Charles, who was too young to concern himself with “politics”, was grateful for a thrilling hint given to him by one of the armed intruders: “And a goose takes a long time to get his pace up. Don’t aim so much in front of a goose as you do at other birds.” / Can “Master Charles” be blamed for forgetting his parent, who had found refuge in Paris? The young lad had a sunroom at his disposal, grooms, beaters and the neighbouring gentry - all conspiring to delay his return to Eton during the hunting and shooting seasons. Moreover, there was the mysterious attraction of the Red Bog, which had been a forbidden territory to him. The delights of that wild, desolate region, with its mysterious flocks of grey lag, its snipe, golden plover and teal, are captured in pages crowded with expert knowledge and the shrewd lore of wiseacres. / But the realism and excitement of the chase are as deceptive as the innocent, green places of the bogland which conceal fatal depths for the real theme of this story is Tirnanogue. Lord Dunsany has lavished all his power of description on the wild beauty of the boglands, mysterious at moonrise or on a winter’s day under “a brilliance that shone in the pale blue of the sky, as though the north wind had enchanted it.” He has vindicated the bogland, and shown that to the Irish mind it is as important as the desert to the Arab and as alluring in its mirages. As much as Marlin, the dreaming peasant, or his uncanny mother, the Wise Woman, young Charles is haunted by an unearthly beauty beyond which lies the Land of the Ever Young. But the desire for that enchanted land of apple-blossom under a still moon is in itself a spiritual state, for it involves rejection of all those soul activities by means of which we prepare ourselves, in fear and hope, for the immortality of Heaven. / But the spiritual conflicts of Lord Dunsany’s strange folk are diverted by an unexpected menace, the arrival of the Peat Development (Ireland) Syndicate, with its machinery, sheds and gangs. The story of the Wise Woman’s solitary battle against modern progress is so exciting that even those who would shrink from the thought in ordinary moments will find themselves for the nonce complete pagans and nature worshippers.’ (See under Quotations, infra.)

Cf. US Edn.: ‘Lord Dunsany’s new novel is written, in the words of his hero about “the memories of an Ireland which, they tell me, is quite gone.” Politics play but a small part in these memories, which are confined almost entirely to the Irish country people and the countryside which Lord Dunsany knows so well. He has caught the indefinable charm and mournful atmosphere of the Irish bog which all who have been to Ireland have felt and can never explain. He tells the story of the fortunes of a young Irish gentleman who lived in one of the wilder districts, and whose companions were his keepers, grooms, and those who lived around in the bog. He shows what strange mystic power the bog exercises over those who live in it - exciting love and fear it binds men of all classes together into a freemasonry which bitterly resents any outsider. / It may be no longer possible for the country gentleman to live in this simple isolation. That may have changed, but the charm of the Irish countryman and the mystery of the bog will never alter. All those who have shot, fished or hunted in Ireland have experienced this charm, and will find it again in The Curse of the Wise Woman.’ (Copy held in Princess Grace Irish Library, Monaco.)

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Bobbs Merrill, publisher’s notice on Guerrilla (1944): ‘Lord Dunsany has chosen in the first place to tell a plain story in a plain way. The result, as might be expected from so delicate and distinguished a craftsman, is a piece of writing full to the brim of pictures that stay in the memory and of passages that, in these days of jargon and journalese, are a pure pleasure to read. The prose is exactly suited to the theme; the words carry something of the deliberate cadence of Bunyan, something of the plainness, the irreproachable simplicity of Defoe. / Briefly, this is the story of The Land, a small and symbolical country which is overrun by the Germans and occupied by them. Liberty has lived in The Land for three thousand years; in order to escape from the death of liberty, from the mass arrests, the reprisals and the shootings, a handful of men and boys go out singly to the Mountain which stands outside the city. There Hlaka, an almost legendary hero of the last war, waits for them. They are guerrillas. Their purpose is not to give battle to the enemy but by strength and cunning to kill until there are no enemy left in The Land and liberty can live in the city again as it lives on the Mountain.... /. A plain story it is, and simultaneously a tract for the times, and even an allegory also. Hlaka and his men, guerrillas though they are, are pilgrims of liberty; the Mountain, one thinks, is that impregnable fastness of the human spirit in which liberty dwells; the struggle, as in Bunyan’s time and before Bunyan’s time is of good against evil. If the weapons are different, not prayer and faith and the sword of the spirit alone, these too are there...../ There is humour in it, and there is common humanity as well. Malone, with his gallantry, his cool shrewd head, his irrepressible schoolboy speech, is of the stuff of life. So, in a less or greater degree of symbolism are all the others. Srebnitz of the resolute and dreaming heart among them. Over them all lies what Bacon called ‘the universall spirit of the world. / With beautiful simplicity, with a high sense of the exceptional possibilities of his theme, Lord Dunsany has written Guerrilla. The author of so many famous plays and stories, he has used his mastery of form to enhance his drama and to intensify his meaning. And he is a soldier, too, trained in guerrilla warfare and tactics, so that his novel bears the impact of fact as well as truth. / The invasion found him in Greece, appointed to the Byronic Chair at the University of Athens. Lord and Lady Dunsany became refugees, escaped the country, finally returned to England after some months of extremely hazardous traveling by plane, by car, by foot and by small and large boats. They were under fire both on the water and on the land many times, and their arriving back safely was something of a miracle. / Then Lord Dunsany wrote Guerrilla - out of his first-hand knowledge, out of his eternal love for Greece, its history and its literature, out of his association with the Greek people.’ (Dust-jacket.)

T. R. Henn, The Lonely Tower: Studies in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats (1950; 1965 [rev. edn.]; 1966; 1979): ‘There were other aspects of that life. Land or local troubles flared out from time to time. There were times, even in my own boyhood, when one did not sit in the evening between a lamp and the open; though Lady Gregory, in reply to threats on her life during the Civil War, replied proudly that she was to be found each evening, beetween six and seven, writing before an unshuttered windOW.2 Violence had its curious paradoxes: there is a perfect description in Lord Dunsany’s The Curse of the Wise Woman. A father and his schoolboy son of fifteen or so, on holiday from Eton, are living alone. The house is raided: a band of men have come to shoot the father, who slips out of the study by a secret passage, bidding his son to wait and delay the men. They question him: he denies that his father is in the house. On the table there is a fragment of the True Cross, embedded in crystal (the family are Catholics). They make the boy swear on the relic that he is telling the truth. He perjures himself, and then hears in the distance the beat of horsehoofs that means his father has got away. At last the men decide to go: their leader calls the boy and tells him that the wild geese are coming to a bog near his house and that he should come up one night for a shot. Finally, he grows confidential and gives the boy the most valued piece of advice he knows: “And if it ever comes to it, and God knows the world’s full of trouble, aim a foot in front of a man walking, at a hundred yards!”.’ (p.7.)

Ethel Mannin, Brief Voices: A Writer's Story (London: Hutchinson 1959) [writing of the arrival of her husband Reginald in Ireland in 1946, after passport delays]: ‘It was a momentous visit, for during it we were “kidnapped” by Dermot Freyer, the “major”, and taken off to his mountain fastness in Achill. Island, walked the twenty miles from Leenane to Westport and climbed Croagh Patrick the next day, and on our way back to England at the end of July lunched with Lord Dunsany, with whom I had long been corresponding, and whose writings we both much admired, at Dunsany Castle in County Meath, some miles out of Dublin. In his autobiography Reginald described Dunsany as “living like an ogre in his fantastic castle and hating the Irish government - any Irish government - under a comprehensive title, for he referred to them simply as ‘The Brigands’.” He was maliciously amusing about W. B. Yeats, but we took the stories with a grain of salt, not really caring anyhow; Dunsany was a good raconteur, and nothing anyone could say about Yeats's foibles could detract from his stature as a poet.’ (p.66.)

Seamus Heaney, Preoccupations: Selected Prose (London: Faber & Faber 1980), characterises Dunsany as as a ‘Tory landlord fantasist typical titles including, in 1934, If I were a Dictator!’; further, ‘there is some quarel with himself which Mr Amory mght have brought into focus, but, as it is, Dunsany emerges as a character who might be played to perfection by Terry Thomas’ (Op. cit., p.204; cited in W. J. McCormack, The Battle of the Books, Lilliput Press 1986, p.35.)

Mark Bence-Jones, Twilight of the Ascendancy (London: Constable 1987), reports that Dunsany was shot by members of the Irish Volunteers while approaching the Four Courts. ‘Dunsany ... at Dunsany Castle ... began to hear rumours ... no trains running ... decide[d] to drive to Dublin and offer his services to the military ... reached GHQ and told to go to assistance of office in North Dublin ... drove straight into a rebel roadblock near the Four Courts ... fired upon and Dunsany and his chauffer were both hit. A man came up and took Dunsany prisoner, noticing the bullet-hole in his face, he said, “I’m sorry.” ... carried on stretcher to Jervis St. Hospital.’ (op. cit., p.147-48).

Edward Power, ‘Cult Hero: Dunsany’, in The Irish Times [Weekend], 23 March 2002: cricket-player, chess-player, hunstman, columnist in Times, Boer War veteran; Gods of Pegana (1905) highly praised in era of archaism and mysticism; The Glittering Gates, written for Yeats at the Abbey (1909), was successful; five of his plays running simultaneously on Broadway’. Remarks, ‘Dunsany’s books represent a vibrant link between ancient myth and modern speculative writing, an enthralling, life-affirming celebration of the otherworldly and unfathomable.’ (p.2.)

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Dreams: ‘Of all materials for labour, dreams are the hardest; and the artifocer in ideas is the chief of workers, who out of nothing will make a piece of that work that may stop the child from crying and lead to higher things. For what is it to be a poet? It is to see at a glance the glory of the world, to see beauty in all its forms and manifestations, to feel ugliness like a pain, to resent the wrongs of others as bitterly as one’s own, to know mankind as others know single men, to know Nature as botanists know a flower, to be thought a fool, to hear at moments the clear voice of God.’ (Dunsany, notice in Georgian Poetry 1911-1912, London: The Poetry Bookshop MCMXVIII [1918].)
Note: Oliver St. John Gogarty was a friend of Dunsany - as testified by the photo portrait of the former in the latter’s My Ireland (1937) - and both share the ideology of art-as-dream. See, for instance, under Gogarty, Quotations, under “Reds” [infra]

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The Curse of the Wise Woman (London: William Heinemann 1933), 326pp. ‘It struck me that it might be as well to write them [memories of Ireland] down, for they are [1] memories of an Ireland that they tell me is quite gone. And it seems to me that if the scenes of those days be allowed to be quite lost, the world will miss a memory of a beautiful and happy country, and be the worse for that. Or was it a sad and oppressed country, as some say? I don’t know. It didn’t seem so to me.’ (pp.1-2.) ‘[M]y father always went round every shutter himself to see they were properly fastened, and I used to think it rather unnecessary, for we knew everybody round us; but once when I said something of this to my father he replied: “You never know who might come over the bog”. And certainly on the other side of the bog there were hills of which we knew nothing.’ (p.5.) ‘[T]hen I knew they had come to shoot my father’ (p.7); ‘making conversation about shooting’ (p.14); ‘little things about shooting that are pure gold to a boy’ [viz., how to shoot a flying goose] (p.14.) ‘And if it ever comes to it, and God knows the world’s full of trouble, aim a foot in front of a man walking, at a hundred yards.’ (p.15.) ‘[W]e kept a piece of the true Cross at High Gaut, and had done for ages, ever since it had been granted to us for the help my family gave in a war of one of the popes.’ (p.9.) [Cont.]

The Curse of the Wise Woman (1933) - cont.: [Of the servant Mary who admits the assassins:] ‘She cared devotedly for our family, and yet I think that in her very blood was a feeling that the people couldn’t be wrong.’ (p.17.) ‘I believe she would have fought a burglar single-handed if one had entered the house; but this vengeance that came from the hills over the bog was something that I thought she might have strange feelings about, stronger than all her kinder sympathies, something I can only compare with the feeling that the Englishman has for the law. And it’s no use pretending that I do not sympathise with the Irish point of view: an English honours law, and a very convenient thing it is for everyone when he does so; but it’s dull thing when all’s said. [Now] an Irishman will honour a song, if it’s worth honouring, though his doing so is of no convenience to anybody; but he’ll never honour the law, however much it might suit the community, because a law is not sufficiently beautiful in itself to work up any enthusiasm over. (p.18; cf., ‘only the Irish boys understood [ why he could not call the police]’, p.195.) [Cont.]

The Curse of the Wise Woman (1933) - cont.: ‘Of all the enemies of man I think that the red bog, as we call in Ireland that wide wilderness of heather, [22] seems the most friendly. It cannot be called a friend; it threatens him with death too often for that, and is against him and all his ways, and is untamed by him and unsubdued; only by utterly destroying it does man gain any victory over the bog, and eke from it a difficult living. But it lulls him and soothes him all his days, it gives him myriads of pieces of sky to look at about his feet, and mosses more brilliant than anything short of jewellery, and the great glow of the heather; and if ever it seize him, luring his step with its mosses, it so tends him and cherishes him, that those that chance upon him and dig him up find one whose face and skin are as of their own contemporaries, yet not the oldest in the district know him, for he may have been dead for ages. Well, I’ve said enough to show you that, though I was only driving four miles, I was going to as strange a land as you might find in a long journey, a land as different from the fields we inhabit as the Sahara or Indian jungles.’ [23; see longer extracts; note also The Story of the Moving Bog, by Joseph Dineen (1896), listed under “Moving Bog”, infra.)

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Letters of Mary Lavin: ‘I am returning the copy of the Dublin Magazine with your story in it, which Mrs Bird lent me. It is a delight to read, and to welcome a new writer. There is no advice I am able to give you exept to go on with your work. How long have you been at it, and how many other stories have you written? I should be very glad to see some of them, if you would cate to send some of them to me, and to assist you in having them brought before the notice of editors, if you need such assistance. But as the standard of the Dublin Magazine are very high ...’ [&c.] (cited in Robert W. Caswell, ‘Mary Lavin: Breaking a Pathway’, in Dublin Magazine, Summer 1967), pp.32-44, p.38; noting that Dunsany was instrumental in placing her work with the Atlantic Monthly).

Growing Oats in the Rain’: ‘And don’t let Englishmen be too critical of us for our preoccupations. I have known some Englishmen get just as sodden on beer as we do upon history. To sit and soak over anything is bad, whether it is history, whiskey or beer. But, I can imagine an Englishman saying, our history is mostly false. Well, so is their beer. If they put chemicals into their beer, as they do, aren’t we just as much entitled to put in exciting events to ginger up our history? The point is not that the stuff’s false, but that we sit and soak over it till we get all fuddled and can’t see what is really going on in the world; and the Englishman frequently does the same with his beer. So what right have they to criticise us? Let any nation that has given up all drink and drugs of every description criticise us freely. But when that happens it will be on account of the millennium, and we shall all be living then in a perfect world, and we shall give up our [274] history and our politics, so there will be nothing for them to criticise.’ (In My Ireland, 1937, pp.275-76.)

Anne Crone: Dunsany’s Introduction to Bridie Steen, by Anne Crone (1948; London 1949): His prefatory remarks record Miss Crone’s assurance that no novel could get published without the introduction of a well-known author and speaks of the meeting her work in typescript:‘So Francis Ledwidge came to me, and Mary Lavin, an[d] in a much neglected book … I once came unexpectedly on the fiery sonnets of Lady Wentworth.’ ‘I seem to be falling into the habit of collecting the typescript of new writers, and in so doing to get quite as good reading as anyone else. As novels. Like oaks, must have their roots in the soil, a fine novel is usually the distilled essence of some county, so that something of it that would be otherwise lost is preserved; as attar of roses preserves a fragrance that, though the rose is immortal, would drift away down the wind from of garden of roses. Many counties, or at any rate one generation of them, are so preserved [Dickens’s Kent, Kipling and Belloc’s Sussex, Hardy’s Dorset, Trollope’s Wiltshire, Kingsley’s Yorkshire]. ‘But I had never heard of anything of the sort being done for Fermanagh, until this unforgettable novel fell into my hands.. I [v] write before any publisher has found it, but it seems impossible that it will not be published, even in these difficult times; for where would go the wraiths of Aunt rose, Uncle James, Bridie Steen, Miss Anderson, Jerem[y?], Mrs. Steen, the idiot Davy, William Henry, the Reverend Alfred Archer and Josie Parks, if no home were ever found for them among our dwindling supplies of paper? … As for Fermanagh, this book is not merely for people who may know or care for the county; for a novel is about human beings, and human beings must walk the earth; and to see the earth they walk on made vividly plain is to know more of the world than one did before. The novel is full of bigotry, as you would expect of an Irish border county; but hat seems to me to place the author on a higher plane than even a famous playwright like Galsworthy, is that there is no clear indication in the book as to whether Miss Crone is a Protestant or a Catholic. That seems to me the essence of great art; that, while describing the fury of men’s passions, the artist should not be down with the crowd in the dust, doing his or her share perhaps to get the right man elected, but should sit above it seeing it all, and why it all is, and not only half of it. / I need not speak of the sure touch with which Miss Crone writes … I have spoken of her place among British novelists [goes on to illustrate this claim from several scenes; vi]; ‘and Fermanagh among its farms and bogs and waters, smiling at times with the Christian charity of its people, and sometimes darkened by bigotry, but always made vivid to us as sunrise or thunder.’ [vii; &c.]. (See extracts from the novel under Anne Crone, supra.)

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Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), cites the author as John M. D. Plunkett Dunsany [sic err.], 18th Baron, 1872-1957, b. London, and lists: The Curse of the Wise Woman (Heinemann 1933) [Charles Peridore representing the Free State at some minor foreign court relates incident in Ireland in early 188s concerning a ‘practicing witch’, Mrs. Martin, who foils attempt to develop bogland; much hunting and shooting]; Rory and Bran (Heinemann 1936) [simple minded youth entrusted to drive cattle to Gurtaroonagh with his dog; Quixotic ventures]; The Story of Mona Sheehy (Heinemann 1939) [dg. of Lady Gurtrim mistaken for fairy child by Denis O’Flanagan, who finds the baby mysteriously left at his home; she runs away with the tinkers, and is sought after through the Irish countryside &c.]; Jorkens has a Large Whiskey (Putnam 1940) [Jorkens continues to regales club members with the fantastic and macabre]; The Fourth Book of Jorkens (Jarrolds 1948); The Man who Ate the Phoenix (Jarrolds 1949), stories [title, labourer Paddy O’Horu shoots and eats a golden pheasant thinking it the phoenix and is consequently endowed with magic gifts in company with the sídh]; Up in the Hills (Heinemann 1935) [representatives of Liberissima, negro Republic in treaty with Ireland excavate an Irish crannog at Cranogue, told by London guardsman Mickey Connor]; His Fellow Men (Jarrolds 1952) [Matthew Perry, sensitive Irishman whose parents are murdered, wanders the world instead of seeking vengeance; returns to meet Eileen O’Shaugnessy; encounters opposition from her Ulster Protestant friends; flees religious feud ensues; to Dublin with her; warned off by conflicting patriots; marries Eileen, who tells him his notion of brotherhood is a dream; settles in a cottage]; Jorkens Borrows Another Whiskey (London: Michael Jospeh 1954) [34 tales, human and supernatural, with poetic and horrific elements; a few have Irish locale]. No listing in Ireland in Fiction, 1919).

Stanley Kunitz & Howard Haycroft, 20th Century Authors (1942; suppl. 1955, &c.), lists Dunsany, 1878-1957; 1st Baron; discovered Francis Ledwidge, encouraged Mary Lavin, Anne Crone and others; created Jorkens; plays include The Glittering Gates (1909); The Gods of the Mountain [1929] ; If [1921]; A Night at an Inn [q.d.]; The Tent of the Arabs [1920]; his novels incl. The Sword of Welleran (1908); The Chronicles of Roderiguez (1922); The King of Elfland’s Daughter (1924); The Charwoman’s Shadow (1926); The Blessing of Pan (1927); The Curse of the Wise Woman (1933); and Guerilla (1944); also memoirs and autobiog. ANTH, Blackwater Anthology of Fantasy Literature, ed. Albert Manguel (1983), selects ‘The Bureau d’Echange de Maux’, here pp.735-39.

Margaret Drabble, ed., Oxford Companion of English Literature (OUP 1985); 18th Baron; his first book of (non-Celtic) mythological fantasy, The Gods of Pegana (1905) illustrated by S. H. Sime, whose weird fin-de-siècle drawings were to accompany many subsequent fantasies, incl. The Book of Wonder (1912) and The Blessing of Pan (1927). The Glittering Gates (Abbey 1909) and later plays show influence of Maeterlinck; short plays popular with Little Theatre movement in America; If, an oriental tale, was successful in London, 1912. Bibl. Mark Amory, Lord Dunsany (1972).

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2; contains references only, Dunsany’s ed. of Ledwidge’s Complete Poems (1919), 774; Ledwidge enlisted in Dunsany’s regiment, 10th (Irish) Division, 782; cited by Corkery as one of the writers who ‘would not belong’ in his hurling match crowd in Thurles, 1010; man of letters and novelist, wrote in a distinctively Celtic Twilight vein, and his reputation now rests largely on his fantasy novels, particularly The Sword of Welleran (1908) and The King of Elfland’s Daughter (1924), 1010 ftn.

Nancy Cunard, ed., Poèmes à la France 1934-1944 (Paris: Pierre Seghers 1947), prints poem with others by Hugh MacDiarmid, Robert Greacen, Ewart Milne.

Eggeley Books (Cat. 44) lists ‘An August in the Red Sea’, in Golden Book Magazine, No. 138 (Nov. 1937); ‘The Electric King’, in The Argosy, No. 109 (June 1935); ‘Jorkens Handles a Big Property’, in Fiction Parade and Golden Book (NY Oct. 1935); ‘The Old Brown Coat’, A Fantasy’, in Golden Book Magazine, No.110 (Feb. 1934); ‘Where the Tides Ebbs and Flow’, in Eros, Vol. 1 No. 2 (Feb. 1949).

Hyland Books (Cat. 219) lists Plays of Gods and Men (1917); The Year (1946). Hyland Catalogue (q.d.) lists The Year (London 1946); Up in the Hills (rep. London 1935); The Siren’s Wake (London 1945) [frontis. port.]; My Ireland (rep. London 1950); and My Talks with Dean Spanley, uncorr. advance proof (London 1972). A Night at the Inn, play in one act (NY: 1916); Up in the Hills (1935) [sic].

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Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco) holds The Charwoman’s Shadow (London: Putnam’s Sons 1926), 339pp., and Do., 2nd imp. [The Knickerbocker Press] (NY: Putnam’s Sons 1926), 294pp.; The Book of Wonder: A Chronicle of Little Adventures at the Edge of the World (London: Heinemann 1912), 135pp. ill.S. H. Sime [PGIL pencilled date 1915]; Alexander and Three Small Plays [‘Alexander’; ‘The Old King’s Tale’; ‘The Evil Kettle’; ‘The Amusements of Khan Kharuda’] (NY&London: [The Knickerbocker Press] G. P. Putnam’s Sons 1926), 199pp.; Five Plays [‘The Gods of the Mountain’; ‘The Golden Doom’; ‘King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior’; ‘The Glittering Gate’; ‘The Lost Silk Hat’] (London: Grant Richards MDCCCCXIV), 111pp.; Fifty-One Tales (NY: Mitchell Kennerley MCMXV), 188pp.; A Dreamer’s Tales and Other Stories, introduced by Padraic Colum (NY: Boni & Liveright n.d.]), 221pp., front. pencil port. [in army uniform; incl. ‘Poltarnees, Beholder of Ocean’ as No. 1]l Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley (London & NY: Putnam [Knickerbocker Press] 1922), ill. S. H. Sime, and ded. ‘To William Beebe’.318pp.; A Dreamer’s Tales (London: George Allen 1910), 252pp., and Do. [another edn.], introduced by Padraic Colum (NY: Boni & Liveright n.d.]), 221pp., front. pencil port. [in army uniform; incl. ‘Poltarnees, Beholder of Ocean’ as No. 1]; The Last Book of Wonder (Boston: John W. Luce & Co. 1916), 213pp. [prface.signed Ebrington Baracks, Aug. 1916, while ‘recovering from a slight wound’]; A Night at an Inn (NY: Putnam’s 1918, rep. 1922), 35pp.; A Night at an Inn: A Play in One Act for Men (London: French’s Acting Edition [1944]), 13pp.; A Journey (London: MacDonald & Co. 1944), 95pp. [‘The Battle of Britain’; ‘The Battle of Greece’; ‘The Battle of the Mediterranean’; ‘Battles Long Ago; The Battle of the Atlantic’; vol. ded. Crown Prince of Greece]; Guerrilla (London: Heinemann 1944), another edn. (NY: Bobbs Merrill Co. 1944), 251pp.; If, a Play in Four Acts (NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons [Knickerbocker Press 1922), 185pp. [CONT.] Note that Putnam’s also published A. A. Milne.

Belfast Public Library holds Alexander, and Three Small Plays (1925); Blessings of Pan (1927); Cheeze (n.d.); Compromise of the King (n.d.); Curse of the Wise Woman (1933); The Donnellan Lectures, TCD 1943 (1945); Fifty-One Tales (1916); Fifty Poems (1929); The Glittering Gate (1923); Gods of Pagana (1911); His Fellow Men (1952); If, a play in four acts (1921); Jorkens Borrows another Whiskey (1954); Jorkens has a Large Whiskey (Putnam 1940); A Journey, Poetry (MacDonald 1944); King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior (1923); Last Revolution (1951); Mirage Water (1938); My Ireland (1937); My Talks with Dean Stanley (1936); The Old Folk of the Centuries (n.d.); Patches of Sunlight (1938); Plays for Earth and Air (Heinemann 1937); Plays of Gods and Men (1917); Plays of Near and Far (1928); Seven Modern Comedies (1928); The Sirens Wake (1945); Strange Journeys of Colonel Polders (1950); Sword of Welleran and other Stories (1949); Travel Tales of Mr. Joseph Jorkens (1931); Unhappy Far Off-Things (1919); Up The Hills (1935); While the Sirens Slept (n.d.); The Year (1946) [added titles from Whelan Cat. 32].

Library of Congress holds A Dreamer’s tales [rep. of 1910 edn. in Short Story Index Reprint Series] (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press [1969]), 194pp. ill. by S. H. Sime (1867-1941); A dreamer’s tales [1910], foreword by Martin Gardner (Philadelphia: Owlswick Press 1979), xvi, 160pp., ill. by Tim Kirk.

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Moving Bog: On 28 Dec. 1896 part of a bog slipped off a hillside near Rathmore killing the Donelly family whose house was in its path. The lexicologist [Patrick] Dineen wrote in an elegy on the subject: “The parents with their nurslings (oh, cause to fear and weep!), / Were buried by the bog-slip in one submersion deep!” The tragedy caused a great sensation in its day and the site, being so close to Killarney, became for a time part of the tourist attractions there. See Joseph Dineen, The Story of the Moving Bog [1897] (Aubane Historical Society 2009) [40pp.] - a guide to the moving bogs and Killarney Lake with an account of the disaster and a map which was translated contemporaneously into French and German. (See Books Ireland, March 2009, p.59.)

Richard Stanihurst: Stanihurst dedicated his revisionist treatise on Ireland to Lord Dunsany - being a leading member of the 16th-century Catholic gentry - as follows: De rebus Hibernia gestis [...] ad carissimum suum frattrem, clarissimumque virum, P. Plunketum, Dominum Baronem Dunsaniæ (1584), 264pp., 4°.

Portrait: a caricature black ink by Grace Gifford, signed and inscribed “Lord Dunsany on Olympus getting local colour” was lent anonymously to Yeats Centenary Exhibition (National Gallery of Ireland, 1965).

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