St. John Ervine (1883-1971)

[b. John Greer Irvine; occas. St. John Greer Ervine]; b. 28 Dec. 1883 in working-class Ballymacarret, East Belfast, son to deaf-mute parents [var. his mother only]; his father died shortly after his birth (also in 1883); his grandmother, Mrs. Greer, having moved to town from Donaghadee, Co. Down, after her seaman husband deserted her, as in Mrs. Martin’s Man (1914); she established hardware shop on Albertbridge Road like that in his play Boyd’s Shop; ed. Westbourne School, Newtownards Rd., under the benign teaching of headmaster McClelland (on whom Mr Carlow in Alice and Family is modelled); prevented by poverty from attempted Trinity entrance; became insurance clerk in Belfast, aged 15 [var. 17];
moved to London as clerk, 1901; abandoned religious affiliation; joined Shaw’s Fabians; contributed to The New Age; involved in repertory theatre; met W. B. Yeats; Abbey plays incl. Mixed Marriage (1911; dir. Lennox Robinson), study of a Belfast tragedy, The Magnanimous Lover (1912), the story of an Ulsterman who rediscovers religious faith in Liverpool and proposes to the woman whom he had earlier made pregant and abandoned, only to be rejected by her because of his want of proper feeling; issued Eight O’Clock (1913), stories; issued Mrs Martin’s Man (1914); Alice and a Family (1915), concerning the London working-class family life of ’erbert Nudds; served in World War I with the Dublin Fusiliers, which he joined in disgust at the cheers that greeted Casement’s execution; issued John Ferguson (1915), concerning a devout believer whose son murders the landlord-rapist of his sister, causing Ferguson to abandon his own belief in expiation though the boy gives himself up to save an innocent accused in his place; supported Home Rule and disliked Carson, looking to AE and Plunkett as the men of the new Ireland;
appt. Abbey manager, 1915, but incurred dislike of actors through his insistence that ‘no worthwhile plays were being written in Ireland’ and hardening Unionist attitude; dismissed the actors on their refusing to appear under his management in Limerick; resigned from Abbey, 1916; ‘found God’ in the trenches; lost a leg in Flanders (partly recounted in Sophia, 1941); issued Changing Winds (1917), a novel in response to 1916 Rising featuring George Russell, Pearse (John Marsh), and other contemporaries, advocating Home Rule politics and a ‘mingling’ of the bloods; The Foolish Lovers (1920), a novel narrating the attempt of John MacDermott to escape his stultifying life in Ballyards [viz., Newtownards] to London as a writer, but forced to abandon his ambitions and return; wrote The Ship (1922), based on the fate of the Titanic - called The Magnificent; settled in Devon; became Observer and Morning Post drama critic to 1939; announced ‘the collapse of the Irish Dramatic Renaissance’ in The Observer, 1923; issued Wayward Man (1927), focused on Robert Dunwoody and his family, and set in ‘Donaghreagh’, but also in Ulster, Glasgow, and America where his wanderlust takes him; his play The Lady of Belmont produced at Gate Theatre, Dublin (1930);
elected IAL, 1933-36; wrote successful West End plays such as The First Mrs Fraser (1931), set in London and centred on the character of Janet Fraser, divorced from a Scotsman, whom she manages to remarry having seen off his second wife, a flapper Elsie, through a manner of blackmail (forcing her to run off with Lord Larne, after Janet’s present man detects Elsie carrying on with a dancer Mario; includes a parody of the Irish literary revival type; freq. visitor to Northern Ireland; wrote Boyd’s Shop (1936), a sentimental play set in Donaghadee, Co. Down, first performed in the Playhouse, Liverpool; revived by Ulster Group Theatre, Belfast, 1939, running for 15 weeks; Friends and Relations (1941), another Ulster play; appt. Professor of Dramatic Literature for Royal Society of Literature; wrote Sir Edward Carson and the Ulster Movement (1916) and other biographies on Carson, Wilde, Parnell [1925], General Booth, G. B. Shaw, and William Craig, in Craigavon (1949), interspersed with diatribes against the ‘Eireans’, and not liked by Lady Craigavon;
his shift from nationalism to unionism instanced by Parnell and Craigavon; there is an archive of his papers, with a bibliographical catalogue, at Queen’s University, Belfast; subject of biographical notice in Threshold by John Boyd (1974), professing that he was passionate about Ulster and had a ‘pathological hatred or the rest of Ireland’ after 1916 and the War of Independence, and likewise for romantics and bohemians; became increasingly Unionist; issued Some Impressions of My Elders (1922), sometimes called a literary autobiography (1922) but actually a series of commentares in G. B. Shaw, J. M. Synge, G. c. Chesterton, W. B. Yeats and others; married but childless; DDLitt, QUB; MIAL; FRSL; declined into senility before his death; awarded LLD by St Andrews Univ.; also that some of his manuscripts are held in the Belfast Central Library Irish Collection; Mixed Marriage was revived at Finborough Theatrem London, 2011. NCBE DIB DIW DIH IF2 OCEL DIL DUB OCIL FDA

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  • Eight O’Clock and Other Studies (Dublin & London: Maunsel 1913) [stories, incl. with title-story “Clutie”, John”, “Retirement”, “The Fool”, “The Well of Youth”, “The Burial”, “Discontent”, and “The Match”].
  • Mrs. Martin”s Man (Dublin & London: Maunsel 1914; pop. edn., 1915), 312pp. [extract].
  • Alice and a Family (Dublin & London: Maunsel; NY: Macmillan 1915).
  • Changing Winds (Dublin & London: Maunsel; NY: Macmillan 1917), 571pp.
  • The Foolish Lovers (London: Collins; NY: Macmillan 1920) [see note on dedication, infra].
  • The Wayward Man (London: Collins; NY: Macmillan 1927), p.375 [ded. “To Leonora”; 3rd imp. London Jan. 1928].
  • The Mountain and Other Stories (London: Allen & Unwin 1928) [incl. with title story and those already published in Eight O’Clock Stories, “Old Mrs Clifford” “Safety”; “Mr Tripney Goes Abroad”; “Ambition”; “The Blind Man”; “Derelicts”; “Colleagues”; “The Conjurer”; “Mr Peden Keeps His Cook”.
  • The First Mrs. Fraser (London: Collins; NY: Macmillan 1931).
  • Sophia (London: Macmillan 1941) [note].
Omnibus collection
  • The St. John Ervine Omnibus (London: Collins 1933) [containing The Foolish Lovers; The Wayward Man; The First Mrs Fraser].
  • Four Irish Plays (Dublin & London: Maunsel; NY: Macmillan 1914) [Mixed Marriage; The Magnanimous Lover; The Critics; The Orangeman].
  • Jane Clegg: a play in three acts (London: Sidgwick & Jackson; NY: Henry Holt 1914), [8], 112pp., 18.5cm. [First performed by Miss-Hornimans Co. in the Gaiety Th., Manchester, and produced by Lewis Casson].
  • John Ferguson, a Play in Four Acts (Dublin & London: Maunsel; NY: Macmillan 1915).
  • The Ship: A Play in Three Acts (NY: Macmillan 1922) [based on Thomas Andrews and the “Titanic”].
  • Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, A Light Comedy in 4 acts (London: Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1923), 96pp.
  • The Lady of Belmont: A Pplay in 5 Acts (London: Allen & Unwin 1923), 95pp.
  • Anthony and Anna: A Comedy in in Three Acts (London: Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1925), and Do. [rev. edn.] 1936).
  • Four One-Act Plays [The Magnanimous Lover, Progress, Ole George Comes to Tea, She Was No Lady] (London: Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1928).
  • The First Mrs. Fraser: A Comedy in Three Acts (London: Chatto & Windus 1929; NY: Macmillan 1930).
  • Boyd’s Shop: A Comedy in Four Acts (London: Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1936).
  • People of Our Class (London: Allen & Unwin 1936).
  • Robert’s Wife (London: Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1938).
  • Friends and Relations, a Comedy in Three Acts (London: Allen & Unwin 1947).
  • Private Enterprise (London: Allen & Unwin 1948).
  • The Christies: A Play in Three Acts (London: Allen & Unwin 1949).
  • Brother Tom: A Country Comedy in Three Acts (London: Allen & Unwin 1952).
  • Selected Plays of John Ervine, ed. John Cronin (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe; Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1988) [contents].
Biography & Commentary
  • Sir Edward Carson and the Ulster Movement (Dublin & London: Maunsel; New York: Dodd, Mead 1915).
  • ‘The Case for Conscription’, in New Ireland, 2 (3 July 1915), pp.118-120.
  • ‘After the Abbey’, New Ireland 2 (4 March 1916), pp.277-278; ; Do. [new edn.] Jepson Press 2006)
  • Some Impressions of My Elders (NY: Macmillan 1922; London: Allen & Unwin 1923), 3112pp. [see bibl. note]
  • The Organised Theatre: A Plea in Civics (London: Allen & Unwin 1924; NY: Macmillan 1925), 213pp. [based on Shute Lectures at Univ. of Liverpool, Autumn 1923].
  • Parnell (London: Ernest Benn; London: Queensway; Boston: Little, Brown 1925, 1927), and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Ernest Benn 1928).
  • How to Write a Play (London: G. Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1928).
  • The Theatre in My Time (London: Rich & Cowan 1933; NY: Loring & Mussey 1934; Toronto: Ryerson 1936).
  • God’s Soldier: General William Booth (London & Toronto: Heinemann 1934; NY: Macmillan 1935).
  • Craigavon: Ulsterman (London: Allen & Unwin 1949), 676pp. [front. port. of Craigavon at microphone broadcasting ‘We are king’s men’ [in response to de Valera’s neutrality].
  • Oscar Wilde: A Present Time Appraisal (London: George Allen & Unwin 1951; NY: Macmillan 1952; NY: William Morrow 1952).
  • George Bernard Shaw: His Life, Works and Friends (London: Constable 1956; NY: William Morrow 1956), xii, 628pp., ill. [ 14pp. of pls.] frontis. photo-port.].
Miscellaneous (sel.)
  • ‘The Irish Rebellion’, in Century Magazine (NY 1917).
  • Some Impressions of My Elders (NY Macmillan 1922), 305pp.; Do., rep edn.  (Kessinger Publishing 2007), 312pp. [details & extract (on Synge)].
  • Preface to H. R. Hayward, ed., Ulster Songs and Ballads (1925).
  • Foreword to R. L. Russell, The Child and His Pencil (1935).
  • ed., Essays by Divers Hands [Royal Soc. of Lit.] (Humphrey Milford/OUP 1940) [contents]; ‘St. John Ervine’s Broadway, Parts 1 and 2’, in Peter Drewniany and Robert Hogan, eds. George Spelvin’s Theatre Book [theatrical criticism from New York World, 1928-1929] (Spring-Summer 1980), pp.1-97; pp.1-94.

See Ervine’s remarks on Yeats and Synge elsewhere in Ricorso.

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Bibliographical details
Selected Plays of St. Greer Ervine, chosen with an intro. by John Cronin [Irish Drama Selections 5] (Colin Smith 1988; Catholic Univ. of America Press 1988), 387pp., [contains Mixed Marriage, Jane Clegg, John Ferguson, Boyd’s Shop; Friends and Relations; also prose extracts including ‘How To Write a Play’ and a bibl. checklist [ 0 86140 101 8 hb; 102 pb]. The Ship, play in three Acts ([NY:] Macmillan 1922); Robert’s Wife, a comedy in Three Acts (London: G. Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1938), 101pp.; The First Mrs Fraser, A comedy in three acts (Chatto and Windus 1929) [Your father ... He’s beginning to court me all over again ... and I rather like it, Ninian ... [End]; The Christies: A play in three acts (Allen and Unwin 1949), 93pp.; Boyd’s Shop: A comedy in four acts (London: G. Allen & Unwin/NY: Macmillan 1939) [performed for first time on Wed. 19 Feb. 1936 at Playhouse, Liverpool.] 110pp., ending: ‘Wouldn’t it be a great idea now if you two were the first pair Dunwoody married?’

The Foolish Lovers (London: Collins & Son [1920]) is ded. ‘To my mother who asked me to write a story without any bad words in it and to Mrs J. O. Hannay [i.e., wife of George Birmingham] who asked me to write a story without any “sex” in it.’]; 392pp.

Essays by Divers Hands, ed. St. John Ervine, LLD. FRSL [Trans. of Royal Soc. of Literature, No. XVIII] (Humphrey Milford/OUP MCMXL), contains essays by Richard Church, Laurence Tanner, N. Hardy Wallis, Percy Spielmann, A. Yusf Ali, Robin Flower [Gifford Mem. Lecture”: Lost Manuscripts, [pp.107-136], and Michael Roberts. Note: John Drinkwater, Laurence Binyon, Sir Francis Younghusband, Joanna Richardson, John Guest, Robert Speaight, and Vincent Cronin, et al., were all editors in this long-running series.

Some Impressions of my Elders (NY: Macmillan 1922; London: Allen & Unwin 1923), 312pp. [prev. publ. as ‘Some Impressions of My Elders: Bernard Shaw and J. M. Synge’, in North American Review, CCXI (May 1920), pp.669-81 [see extracts - infra], and ‘Some Impressions of My Elders: John Galsworthy’, in North American Review, CCVIII (March 1921), pp.371-84. Treats of  AE (George William Russell), Arnold Bennett, G. K. Chesterton, John Galsworthy, George Moore, Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, and, W. B Yeats; available at JSTOR online; accessed 20.09.2021 [open access].

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  • Bibliography by Paul Howard, ‘St. John Ervine, A Bibliography of His Published Works,’ in Irish Booklore, 1, 2 (August 1971), pp.203-09.
  • J. W. Cunliffe, Modern English Playwrights: A Short History of the English Drama from 1925 (1925; rep. Kennikat 1969).
  • Denis Ireland, ‘Red Brick City and Its Dramatist: A Note on St. John Ervine’, in Envoy, I (March 1950), pp.59-67.
  • Robert Hogan, After the Irish Renaissance (London: Macmillan 1968), pp.264-65.
  • Sam Hanna Bell, The Theatre in Ulster (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1972) [q.pp.].
  • John Boyd, ‘St John Ervine, a Biographical Note’, in Threshold, 25 (Summer 1974), pp.101-15.
  • J. W. Foster, Forces and Themes in Ulster Fiction (Gill & Macmillan 1974), pp.130-39 [commentary on The Foolish Lovers, Mrs. Martin’s Man, The Wayward Man], and passim.
  • Norman Vance, Irish Literature: A Social History (London: Basil Blackwell 1990), Chap. V.
  • Patrick Maume, ‘Ulster men of Letters: The Unionism of Frank Frankfort Moore, Shan Bullock, and St. John Ervine’, in Unionism in Modern Ireland: New Perspectives on Politics and Culture, ed. Richard English & Graham Walker (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1996), pp.63-80, espec. pp.71-75..
  • Lauren Arrington, St John Ervine and the Fabian Society: Capital, Empire and Irish Home Rule (Oxford UP 2011) [q.pp.; see notice].
See also Dawson Byrne, ‘St John Ervine Episode’ [ chap.], The Story of Ireland’s National Theatre (1929); Seamus de Burca, The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Ó Cearnaigh (Dublin: P. J. Bourke 1957), espec. pp.106-07 [extract under Kearney, supra]; Edna Longley, ‘“A Barbarous Nook: The Writer and Belfast”, The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1994), espec. pp.100-01.

Bibliographical details
Lauren Arrington, St John Ervine and the Fabian Society: Capital, Empire and Irish Home Rule (Oxford UP 2011): ‘Debates over the role of empire in the context of the Boer War, the rebellion against the Liberal Party due to Gladstone’s exclusive focus on the Irish Question, and the inherent London-centrism of the Society resulted in Fabian apathy towards Irish Home Rule, despite the fact that one of the Society’s most prominent founders, G. B. Shaw, was ‘an inveterate ... Home Ruler’. Playwright St John Ervine (1883-1971) was born in a working-class neighbourhood in Belfast and in 1901 at the age of eighteen moved to London to work as a clerk. There he became involved in the Fabian Society. He was officially elected to its membership in 1907 and served as treasurer of the Fabian Nursery, a sub-group with the aim of educating young people in the tenets of Fabianism. While in London, he wrote plays set in Belfast that dealt with class and religion and reflected his conviction that sectarianism was at the heart of labour problems in the north of Ireland. Ervine envisaged Home Rule as a solution to sectarianism and thought that it would precipitate the union of Protestant and Catholic workers in the struggle for economic equality. However, the London-centrism of the Fabian Society impeded an understanding of St John Ervine’s work and reflected the society’s fundamental ambivalence to the relationship between capital and empire.’ [See History Workshop Journal (Aug. 2011) - online.]

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John S. Crone (ed.) writes in The Irish Book Lover of the Parnellite ballad: ‘Isn’t it surprising how that old grand come-all-ye “Cowld Kilmain-ham Jail” crops up in the most unexpected places? Here it is in this month on the leader page of The Times no less! It appears that Sir John Ross, the last Lord Chancellor of Ireland, in his recently published Pilgrim Scrip tells how he and Percy French composed the song - two more claimants to the honour , mark you - that makes five I have known. But Mr. Fletcher, the literary executor of A. D. Godley, the late Public orator at Oxford, denies the statement, gives the date of its first appearance, and says the original MS is still in the possession of Godley’s sister. The fact is: when the ballad first appeared in an English periodical, it was doubtless ‘touched up’ doubtless by several persons, real names introduced, and local colour added. It was printed as a ballad slip, and sung through the streets of Dublin. St. John Ervine in his Parnell, quotes it in full, and the curious can compare it with the original in Lyra Frivola (London 1900). So far, St. John has not replied to the charge.’ (“Sgéala ó Chathair na gCeó”, in IBL, Vol. XVI, No. 1 (Jan. & Feb. 1928), p.2.

Seamus de Burca, The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Ó Cearnaigh (Dublin: P. J. Bourke 1957) gives an account of St. John Ervine’s management of the Abbey on tour in Liverpool at the outbreak of the 1916 Rising and the subsequent defections. (pp.106-07 - see extract under Kearney, supra).

Daniel Corkery, Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature (1931; Mercier Edn. 1966), argues that the Ascendancy man is forced to forget his ‘youthful perceptions’ when faced with the difference btween the ‘two schemes of life’ in Ireland and in England on leaving for the first time.’ He goes on: ‘What wonder if people like Mr St John Ervine become so much mor eBritish than the British themselves!’ In a footnote Corkery quotes a letter to the paper from Ervine: ‘He who goes to Europe is as conscious of change; but, as Mr. St. John Ervine, commenting in a letter to the Times (8 Sept. 1930), on “The puzzling fact that any Briton who defends his country in the United States is stigmatised as a propagandist”, writes: “May I express my belief that the effort to avoid ‘irritating’ Americans by defending our country when it is attacked is being overdone? Frankly, I do not care whether I irritate Americans or any other people by stating what I believe to be the truth about my country. Heaven forbid that we should seem always to be apologising for ourselves, but heaven forbid, too, that we should stand tamely by while we are aspersed or misrepresented, on the ground that if we dare to defend ourselves or to correct misstatements we shall upset people.” (p.36; see context of these remarks under J. M. Synge > Commentary - supra.)

Collins publishers (appended to The Wayward Man, 1927): ‘It is seven years since St John Ervine published his last novel, The Foolish Lovers. The Wayward may opens in Ulster and moves to Glasgow, and later to America. It may be called the study of the prodigal son after he has returned to his father.’

Sean O’Faolain: ‘The only Belfast writer who has tried at all to bottle the “realism” of the city [...] but he is lacking in poetry, and has only succeeded in making it taste like re-boiled mutton gone cold.’ (An Irish Journey, 1940; cited in P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland, 1994, p.39.)

Maurice Headlam, Irish Reminiscences (1947) to Ervine, ‘who had been marooned in the [United Arts] Club since the outbreak of the rebellion, and who was anxious to send a letter to inform his wife in England that he was safe.’ Further, Headlam obliges with the diplomatic pouch, and that Ervine became disillusioned with nationalism and joined the Household Cavalry as a private and lost a leg in action, being quartered at Windsor before going to the Front. (p.49).

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Francis MacManus, ed., M. J. MafcManus, Adventures of an Irish Bookman (Dublin: Talbot Press 1952), Chap., ‘The Last Stage Irishman’: ‘To-day Mr Ervine is as good a performer on the Lambeg drum as the best of them; there is not a Twelfth of July on which his wrists do not - metaphorically speaking - bleed. But in 1915 he was looked upon as a rising hope of Nationalist Ireland’ [113]; goes on to narrate how Ervine was offered a contract for a book on Carson, and found little to say, but advanced the theory that Ulster choose Carson because he was the last stage-Irishman [115-16].

John O’Donovan, Shaw and the Charlatan Genius, a memoir [by ... &c] with 18 illustrations (Dolmen 1965), ‘St John Ervine was writing his Shaw biography, he asked me if I could supply him with information about the Shaw circle in Dublin, especially about Lee.’

Austin Clarke, ‘Early Memories of F. R. Higgins’, in Dublin Magazine (Summer 1967), pp.68-73: ‘One evening, early in 1915, if I remember rightly, I went to a public lecture given by St. John Irvine [sic] in the Vegetarian Restaurant, a pleasant place near College Green in Dublin, long disappeared. Mr Ivine was manager of the Abbey Theatre at the time and, in speaking of drama, dealt with the touchiness of our audiences and compared us unfavourably with our countrymen in the north.’

Hugh Hunt, ‘During the Easter Rising Ervine’s sympathies were far removed from those of his players, his only regret being that the British gunboat Helga had not blasted the Abbey to pieces. Small wonder that his relations with the players were far from happy.’ (The Abbey: Ireland’s National Theatre, 1904-1979, Gill & Macmillan 1979, p.111; quoted in Neil Campbell, ‘The Abbey Theatre: The Plays and the Politics’, UG Diss., UUC [2001]) .

A. N. Jeffares, W. B. Yeats: A New Biography (London: Macmillan 1988): , John Quinn thinks St John Ervine unbalanced in his comments on the poet [Yeats] in two articles published in the North American Review, Feb. and March [q.pp].

Cf. Roy Foster, ‘When the Newspaper have forgotten me ...’, in Yeats Annual 12, ed. Warwick Gould and Edna Longley, 1996): Ervine wrote an obituary notice of Yeats, alongside Stephen Gwynn, in The Observer, 5 Feb. 1939, claiming that the poet ‘had no common qualities, no small talk, no familiarities’; that in conversation he preferred monologue, and that he was unable ‘to be familiar with his friends.’ (p.166.)

Seamus Deane: Ervine’s novels are ‘asphyxiated by the formal apparatus and the narrow preoccupatons of realism and naturalism.’ (Celtic Revivals, 1985, p.51.)

Cheryl Herr, ed., The Land They Loved (1991), notes that when in 1915 P. J. Bourke’s For the Land She Loved was produced at the Abbey the Castle remonstrated with St. John Ervine for ‘permitting this piece of sedition to be performed’ (Seamus de Burca). Ervine responded by barring de Burca from the Abbey.

Norman Vance, Irish Literature, A Social History (Basil Blackwell 1990), p.13, ‘[...] the literary history of Ireland has become increasingly a tale of two cities but aggressive nationalist perceptions of the Irish literary tradition, savagely pilloried by the Ulster dramatist and biographer St Jon Ervine, takes no proper account of the non-nationalist, non-Anglo-Irish non-Celtic, non-Catholic cultural perspectives of Ulster.’ Further, ‘Ervine admired the bold iconoclasm of Joyce’s work which seemed to link him with Synge, Padraic Colum and Lennox Robinson in the worthwhile enterprise of demythologising Ireland’s complacently sentimental self-image. From a different, more northernly perspective Ervine tried to do the same.’ Bibl, Ulster, The Real Centre of Culture in Ireland (1944), rep. from reply to Sean O’Casey in Belfast Telegraph.

John Boyd, ‘St John Ervine, a Biographical Note’, in Threshold, 25 (Summer 1974), pp.101-15, ‘[Ervine] would have become one of the most widely recognised of Irish prose writers if he had not imaginatively and emotionally renounced his birthright as Irishman and Irish writer, a renunciation which neither Shaw nor Joyce nor O’Casey - all fellow exiles and all extremely critical of Ireland - ever made.’

Loreto Todd, The Language of Irish Literature (1989), calls Ervine an exponent of Ulster Scots dialect, referencing Mixed Marriage.

Paul Bew, ‘... the Unionist writer St John Irvine [sic] even made an effort of sorts to claim Parnell as an ally [of Unionism] in his biography of 1925.’ (Fortnightly Review, Oct. 1991, p.19.)

Robert Greacen, ‘Bigotted Unionist though he undoubted was, Ervine could at his best be a reliable witness of lower-middle-class Belfast life in novels like The Wayward Man.’ (Review of Patricia Craig, Rattle of the North [anthol.], in Books Ireland, Oct. 1992.)

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Mrs. Martin’s Man (Maunsel 1914): the title character has married a sailor, contrary to the wishes of her family, the Mahaffys; she was a woman of middle height, very slender and very pale. She had calm, passionless eyes and a gnele look, and although she was not a beautiful woman or even a women of good appearance, she had phsyical qualities which made her attractive to men of a hard, rough type. She looked fragile, but beneath her lean appearance there lay a great hiddens tory of nervous force which enabled her to execute gigantic tasks. It was this quality of the implacable which enabled her to open the hardware shop and make it prosper …; [7]; at the opening of the novel she awaits the return of her husband from sea, following a telegram saying that he is tired of the sea; she thinks back to the time when she was living with Mrs. Crothers at Ballyreagh, who has housed her since she was rejected by her family after her marriage to James, a man of strong personality but a lowly sailor; on coming home from sea, James cows Mrs. Crowthers (threatening to remove Martha), and Mrs. Crowther first relents, then loses spirit shortly afterwards and dies, leaving the house to their occupation. [Cont.]

Mrs. Martin’s Man (1914) - cont.: Mr. Mahaffy dies, reviling and disinheriting his daughter, but Esther, Martha’s sister, comes to stay with her instead of with her brother; she remembers the birth and death of her first child, which drove James from her (‘he had always been a restless an, but after the death of her baby, there were added to his restlessness anger and sullen tempers and swift changes of mood’); James had turned to Esther, growth beautiful (‘Her lips were full and red and she had little white, sharp teeth. Her breasts were like round towers’); they turn to kissing; she won’t let Esther leave the house for fear of confirming rumours that, but James is tired of both of them (‘crying a’ girning’); she has a child, Jamesey; she decides to opens a shop and her husband announces that he is coming home no more, though leaving her pregnant with her second child, Aggie (‘the terrible infamy of desertion’); she keeps it to herself that James has deserted her even form her sister, whose bed he has deserted likewise; she prospers; Henry writes to the Queen to find James; on the day the letter arrives - sixteen years after his departure - Martha and Esther confide frankly in each other for the first time. [Cont.]

Mrs. Martin’s Man (1914) - cont.: Martha reflects, ‘mebbee, it’s as well for Esther to be havin’ him love her like that, than for her not to be havin’ no one at all!’ [68]; notable conversation between Henry, Jane and Martha in which Henry offers the view, ‘A sure, there has to be sailors, an’ sailors needs women the same as other men!’ [75]; note discourse of decency which arises when Henry tells of sailor’s wife visited by three pretenders, to which Jane, ‘ Ah quit talkin’, Henry and’ be decent!’ [76]; ‘huggin’ and kissin’ your own sister’s [husband] … it’s not decent’ [83]; ‘tay’s the national drink of Ireland’ [91]; meanwhile, Esther is dreaming back to James, the ‘strong rough man, with arms that could crush you and lips tha pressed fiercely on yours’ [89]; enter James: ‘a dark bearded man, rough of aspect, and surly of manner … he looked uncertain’; ‘Come in .. You must be in need of your tay!’ [94]. [&c.]; [Andra’ Macalister:] ‘It’s a poor homecoming for your da to be made turn a Cathlik by Home Rulers, an’ him havin’ to bless himself with Holy [W]ater, an’ say his prayers to the Virgin Mary, an’ mebbe kissin’ the Pope’s toe the way ould Gladstone done. He did indeed, daughter! I say one time myself on a picture. Right down on his bended knees he was, kissin’ the ould Pope’s toes ...’ (Maunsel Edn., 1914, p.175.)

The Wayward Man (Robert Dunwoody returns to Belfast to take on shopkeeping for his mother, but rejects merchantilism for a poor girl and a life at sea; includes reflections on the Catholic ‘Other’), ‘he had many and singular thoughts about Catholics, who had the fascination of mysterious and forbidden people for him. Sometimes he peered through the windows of repositories at the crucifixes and scapulars and rosaries and statues of Saints and holy Families and, most of all, the pictures of the Sacred heart. These last oddly repelled him, though he could not have said why [... T]here was Jesus, in a blue and red robe pointing to a hole in his side, where a large and very regular heart was visible. Flame rose from it and a wreath of thorns encircled its head. Great gouts of blood dropped from it, and a cross stood up from the flames! ... There were similar pictures of the virgin, whose heart sometimes, was peirced with swords. Robert, horribly fascinated by them, gazed at the pictures and felt sick. [...] the Holy pictures filled him with disgust, yet he was compelled to look at them. Trembling and awe-stricken, he would creep to the chapel door and peep in at the symbols of idolatry.’ Further: ‘Nevertheless, his thoughts about Catholics continued to be odd, and it did not appear to him incredible or wrong that they should be used by soldiers for bayonet practice, though he cried terribly when he reflected that Paddy might some day be destroyed by a militiaman.’ Further: ‘There are two Irelands and not two kinds of Irishmen, there are four million of Irish’ (in Sir Edward Carson and the Ulster Movement, 1915).

The Foolish Lovers (in which John MacDermott champions lower-middle class commercial values), ‘Palfrey had had the best of the argument, because Palfrey could use his tongue more efectively, but John had felt certain that the truth was not in Palfreg, and here tonight, in this palce where Commerce was most compacty to be seen, he knew that there was beauty in the labours of men, that bargaining and competition and striving energies and rivalry in skill were elements of loveliness.’

Letter to The Irish Worker, 1912: ‘The demand in lonely places is urgent, and the supply is monopolised; there is no competition in the mountainy parts of Donegal; the gombeen man devises his own political economy.’ (Cited in Thomas Gordon Brandon, ‘Patrick MacGill’ [MA Thesis, Univ. of Ulster, 1995].

Oscar Wilde: A Present Time Appraisal (London: Allen & Unwin 1951): ‘It was not much fun to be Mrs Wilde ... he felt disgusted by the physical facts of her pregnancy.’ Further: ‘He was deliberately sodomistic. He not only practised it as a vice but believed it should be practised’ [41]. Wilde, despite his brief abasement in De Profundis, seems never to have known that he was, directly in his argument about art for art’s sake, and indirectly in his downfall, pointing a moral as strictly and severely as a priest or arbitrary politician; and any hope he might have had of spreading his belief was destroyed when after his release from Reading, he reverted to his sewer life in Paris.’ [333].

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Some Impressions of My Elders, NY: Macmillan 1922; London: George Allen & Unwin 1923): ‘But there is an explanation of all this crudity and violence in lreland. For all sorts of reasons, political, social, historical and religious, the critical faculty has rarely been employed and certainly has not developed. Either you are for a thing or you are against it. Doubt is treated as if it were antagonism. Reluctance to commit oneself to any scheme, however, fantastic or ill considered it may be, is treated as treason to the national spirit. A man who asserts his belief in the establishment of an Irish Republic by force, if necessary, is an Irishman, even though he may be a “daga”, and any one who is doubtful of the feasibility of this proposal is denounced as a West Briton, an anglicised Irishman, even, on occasions as “not Irish at all”, although his forbears have lived in Ireland for generations. The state of affairs in Ireland is not unlike the state of affairs in Russia, where literary criticism, as a Russian writer has stated, has always tended to be the handmaid of political faction. “Any writer of sufficient talent”, wrote a reviewer in The Times Supplement “who adopted a liberal attitude was certain of the appreciation of the intelligensia’s acknowledged critical leaders, and hence of a wide and enthusiastic audience. But writers whose instinct for the truth led them to doubt the sufficiency of doctrinaire discontent with the established order were debarred from literary advancement, and had to struggle against the grain of popular and even academic valuation’; further, ‘the truth about peasant civilisation is that it is a mean civilisation, in which mean virtues complete with mean vices, and the small and local thing is esteemed above the big and world wide thing.’ (p.106.) (Quoted in Richard Mills, DPhil UUC, 1997.)

‘Some Impressions of My Elders’ - Pt III [on Synge - following a section on GB Shaw]
Part III: Oddly enough, there was another dramatist, also an Irishman whose practice was precisely the opposite of Bernard Shaw’s: a shy, nervous man who permitted himself to be cheated of a position of authority because of his modesty. John Millington Synge was what Bernard Shaw might have been had he allowed his nature to run off to [43] dark corners and hide itself. Synge could not compel himself to climb on to platforms or make extravagant boasts. He may have had the desire to make boasts, but he had not the courage to do so. An excellent comrade for an individual on a country road, he was so nervous in the presence of an audience of more than six people that he was in danger of physical sickness, and he may be said to have died of sheer inability to assert himself. Had it not been that Yeats was by to do Synge’s boasting for him, the world might never have heard of that singular man of twisted talent. Yeats, indeed, boasted so loudly of Synge’s gifts that superficial persons began to believe that Synge was a greater man than Yeats, and I remember on one occasion hearing a young woman, fresh from Newnham, boldly declaring that Yeats’s chief title to remembrance would lie in the fact that he had discovered Synge! I have never been able to convince myself that Synge was a great man of genius; it is not necessary to convince oneself that Yeats is a great man of genius ... the thing is obvious. Synge was a man of peculiar and interesting talent whose work smelt too strongly of the medicine bottle to be of supreme merit. He was the sick man in literature, and he had the sick man’s interest in cruelty and harshness and violent temperaments. He had the weak man’s envy of strength and the sick man’s liability to mistake violence for strength. His plays were better than Yeats’ plays ... Riders to the Sea is immeasureably better than Kathleen ni Houlihan ... but Yeats is a greater poet than Synge was a dramatist. I am disinclined to believe that Synge ws a great dramatist. He brought a desirable element of bitterness and acrid beauty into the sticky mess of self-satisfaction and sentimentalism which is known as Irish Literature, but I feel that he was lacking in staying-power. He shot his bolt when he wrote The [sic without Only] Playboy of the Western World, the chief value of which lay in the fact that it ripped up the smugness of the Irish people, than whom there are no other people in the world so pleased with themselves on such slender grounds, and taught them the much-needed lesson that they are very much like the rest of God’s creatures. Synge portrayed the Irish people faithfully as he saw them: he put the elment of poetry in the Celtic character, but he also put in the element of cruelty; he put in the wit and generosity, but he also put in the dullness and greed; he put in the gallantry, but [674] he also put in the cowardice; he put in the nobility, but he also put in the gross brutality. In other words, he saw at the same time the idealism of Patrick Pearse and Thomas MacDonagh permeated by the incredible brutality of some of Mr. De Valera’s ruffians, who lately tore an old man of seventy years from a tramcar and fouly murdered him in the street, while terrified Irishmen and women, destitute of moral courage, stood by and watched them do it. He knew the delicate sense of beauty which suffuses the poetry of Padraic Colum and he smelt the odor of the charnel-house that rises from the work of James Joyce, and had he been able to keep the two sides of Irish character justly poised, he would have been a great man and a genius of genius; but he was not able to keep the balance between them ... he tended more and more to see merity in cruelty and harness, and he turned away from the sensitive and delicate beauty of Padraix Colum to the sewer-revelations of James Joyce. People tell me that Deirdre of the Sorrows, his unfinished play, is the greatest of all the plays that have been written about her. Herbert Trench’s or W. B. Yeats;s are in the great line, though all of them are interesting. But judged by itself or in relation to plays generally, it does not seem to me to be agreat drama nor is it so meritable as some of Synge’s own plays of earlier origin. It marks to me the limit of his range,, and shows signs of drooping energy. Some may say that I am attributing to failing power what should be attributed sickness and th imminence of death, but I think I am dealing justly with this odd intruder in the realm of letters when I say that his talent was a small one and that had he lived for twice as many years as he actually did live, he would not have produced anything of greater not than he had written when he died. (p.675; end sect.)
‘Some Impressions of My Elders: Bernard Shaw and J. M. Synge’, in North American Review, CCXI (May 1920), pp.669-81 [available in JSTOR - online; accessed 20.09.2021].

Sir Edward Carson and the Ulster Movement (1915), ‘The world is full of deadly vapours, and the history of mankind is a long epic of the attempts that men make to dispel them. It sometimes happens that poisoned men behave in a way which makes the task of dispelling these vapours difficult, but the force that animates the world will not be overruled forever by angry little men, inflamed by poisons which they mistake for healing potions. There will come great gales out of heaven that will blow the vapours from the valleys and leave the hill-tops clear to every eye. Every act of reconciliation is a gale from God, and when Protestants and Catholics, Orangemen and Ancient Hibernians put their hands together, and the four beautiful fields of Cathleen ni Houlihan become one pasture, there will be no poisonous vapours left in Ireland to obscure the destiny of Irishmen. (p.122.)

Craigavon: Ulsterman (1949): ‘My purpose in this book, is not to write a formal biography, though I see no harm in writing one, but, first, to tell the facts of James Craig’s career, and, second, to expound and interpret as far as I am capable of doing so, the beliefs and political faith of Ulster Unionists, of whom I am one. … Why it is that Ulster Protestants, who were vehement and determined Republicans in the eighteenth century, were Royalists in the nineteenth; and why was the Henry Joy McCracken of my childhood a Unionist when his renowned kinsman a century earlier was hanged as a rebel in Belfast? I doubt, indeed, if there are many Presbyterians in Ulster who cannot claim at least one rebel in their family history. / That change began with disillusionment in the eighteenth century itself, and was started by abhorrence at the barbarity perpetrated by the rebels in the South. It was established and firmly fixed by the complete revolution in the economic conditions of Northern Irish life. The industrial revolution was also a political revolution in Ulster. Ulstermen became, in the jargon of our own time, extroverts, while Southern Irishmen continued to be introverts, began, in deed, as Sinn Féin grew in authority, to be neo-introverts, suffering severely from ingrowing minds and ingrowing souls. Ulster, no more than any other place, does not stand alone; and it was their perception of this fact throughout the nineteenth century which made Unionists of Ulster Protestants who had previously been resolved upon a republic. Our province exists because Great Britain exists, because the United States of America exists, because the British Commonwealth of Nations exists; and its history cannot be separated from theirs nor can it be told in disregard of their existence.’ [&c.] (vii.) … We regard de Valera as a man who shuts himself away from reality and buries himself in the remote past. All Sinn Féiners, and especially those who mumble economic nonsense in Gaelic, are reactionaries to us; dead men fumbling with cerements and pretending that the smell of corruption is the breath of life. … Michael Collins was infantile in his addiction to .. an old Irish civilisation whose main features, apparently, would be primitive “processions of young women”, as in Achill, riding “down on island ponies” to gather cockles … while their male relations scrabbled in the earth with clumsy and inefficient tools … [&c.]’ (viii); much of the ensuing pages of the Preface are concerned with disputing exaggerated claims of Irish participation in the Great War and the Second World War, departing from an assertion by ‘an Eirean lady’ in Time and Tide that 350,000 Irishmen were killed in the earlier conflict; quotes Cardinal MacRory’s remark that ‘Eire deserves credit in the circumstances for not having allied herself with the Axis nations and offered them hospitality and assistance’; ‘My purpose, here, then, in addition to writing the Life of James Craig, is to try to translate my countrymen, the Ulster people, into such terms that those who misunderstand and misinterpret them, shall at least perceive that we have reasons for our attitude towards our fellow-countrymen, and that we are not, in any serious sense, a set of irreconcilable and unteachable bigots who spend our time in wishing eternal injury and damnation to His Holiness the Pope, and declining to associate on terms of equality or even common civility with Irishmen of another religion than ours; but that we are animated by a general doctrine of political and social relations which is derived from our experiences and hopes.’ … it is not Protestants, but Catholics, who decline, especially in schools and colleges, to mingle with their opposites in beliefs.’ (xviii.) Further, ‘The Ulster people were not, and are not, willing to turn away from a prominent partnership in a galaxy of nations to an introspective, obscurantist, Gaelic-speaking agricultural republic’ (p.56).

Greating cookin’!: Introduction to Florence Irwin, The Cookin’ Woman, Irish Country Recipes and Others (London: Oliver Boyd 1949), 229pp., ‘Great living implies good and gracious eating; mean and niggardly eating signifies a mean and niggardly outlook on life. Our meals are becoming as mechanised as our minds. But a live mind does not depend on mas meals, it demands particular food.’ (p.ix); ‘Mr. Shaw eats meals that are as sybaritic as a man, deeply addicted to a vegetarian diet, can ever hope to attain.’ (p.viii.)

Ulster English: ‘When an English thinks of an Ulsterman, he thinks of a dour, humourless, unkindly and uncouth person, deeply absorbed in the making of money, and almost destitute of culture and charm ... // With extraordinary skill, the Southern Irishman has persuaded the Englishman to accept his myths as eternal truths, and has been assisted in his persuasions by the susceptibility of the Englishman to the “charm” which is better described as humbug ... Already people are agreeing that there is more humour in Ulster than in all the other provinces of Ireland put together.’ (Preface to Ulster Songs and Ballads, ed. H. R. Hayward, 1925; quoted in P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland, 1994, p.39 - who also cites Ervine’s view of Sean O’Casey’s prose as ‘a mixture of Jimmy O’Dea and Tommy Handley’, adding that he (Kavanagh) knew and loved O’Dea while his father wrote the words for Handley, making Ervine’s words seem a commendation. (Ibid., p.279).

Celtic Twilight: In letter to Shaw, St. John Ervine condemned Ireland as a land of ‘bleating Celtic Twilighters, sex-starved Daughters of the Gael, gangsters and gombeen-men.’ (Rep. in Shaw: Life, Work and Friends, 1956, p.110; quoted in Richard Mills, DPhil UUC, 1997.)

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Maunsel (publisher’s list, appended to Mr. Martin’s Man, pop. edn., 1915): Mr. Martin’s Man, with review notices including attestation by Rebecca West that he ‘proves himself quite definitely a novelist who counts, whose books are “right”’ (Daily News and Leader); ‘Your Mrs Martin’s Man is amazingly good … bad luck to pubilsh it in the midst of this war confusion but even that wont drown so fine a thing as yours’ (H. G. Wells to the author); ‘All through it shines the spirit of Mrs. Martin herself, unalterably strong, sweet and sensible’ (TLS); ‘Mr Ervine’s delineation of this extraordinarly noble woman is perfect’ (Pall Mall Gazette); ‘One could not imagine a more pathetic and yet withal a more noble figure than Martha Martin’ (Globe); a ‘book which dares to be outspoken to an alarming extent, yet there is in it from beginning to end not one word which is not of absolute purity’ (Spectator); ‘Ireland is to be congratulated on her new recruit - to the ranks of novelists who are also artists ... Mrs Martin is a real creation, an absolutely living, singularly original and satisfying woman (Morning Post); ‘Mrs Martin’s forgiveness is one of the most beautiful things in modern fiction’ (Everyman); ‘To have drawn a woman at once so colourless and so powerful , so beautiful in spirit, and yet so illuminatingly true to life, is a very considerable achievement.’ (New Statesman). ALSO, Alice and a Family, a story of South London by St. John Ervine (‘full of character and kindly laughter’, TLS; called an ‘experimentalising spirit’ by the Observer).

Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. 2] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), lists The Mountain and Other Stories (1928); Belfast novels, The Foolish Lovers (1920) [in which a lad has an affair with the waitress wife of a policeman, leaves Belfast, returns, marries happily and starts a sweet-shop], The Wayward Men (1927) [Alec Dunwoody, a would-be minister with a small business, spends time in low-life New York, with frank brothel scenes, returns, marries, thrives in business], and St. John Ervine Omnibus (1934) [with the aforementioned novels and The First Mrs Fraser].

Margaret Drabble, ed., Oxford Companion to English Literature cites Mixed Marriage (1911); The Magnanimous Lover (1912); John Ferguson (1915), all at the Abbey; wrote as drama critic for Morning Post and Observer in England; The First Mrs Fraser, West End success (1929); also studies of Charles Stewart Parnell (1925), General Booth, and G. B. Shaw (1956).

Seamus Deane , gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2: selects Mixed Marriage [712-16]; the first consequential Northern playwright, ... Shavian and Fabian influence on first plays, produced in England (Jane Clegg, 1913, and The Orangeman, 1914) frustrated by innate Unionism; the historically repetitive Belfast tragedy of Mixed Marriage enters an urban vernacular, 564-565; 719, BIOG: St John Greer Ervine; went to London, 1900; met Shaw and became involved with Fabians; tried to convert the Abbey into a repertory company and almost caused its collapse; leg amputated; wrote prolifically for the London stage and, after 1936, for the Abbey again; died at Seaton in Devon. See also ed. remarks in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (1991), Vol. 3, pp.492, 937, 1138.

D. E. S. Maxwell, Modern Irish Drama (Cambridge UP 1984) lists Four Irish Plays, The Critics, Jane Clegg [DIL performed Manchester 1913, cf. FDA, London 1913], The Orangeman, Mixed Marriage (NY 1911; Dub. 1914); also Mixed Marriage (Maunsel 1911); Jane Clegg (Lon. 1914); John Ferguson (Dub., Lon., and NY, 1915; with intro. by Ervine, NY 1920); Boyd’s Shop (Lon 1947).

Kevin Rockett, et al., eds., Cinema & Ireland (1988), cites Boyd’s Shop, 1936 play, directed as a film by Emmet Dalton, 1960; Television Production Co. with Lennox Robinson, Ernest Blythe, and Louis Elliman[n] [107].

British Library holds [listed under Saint [sic] John Greer Ervine], intro. to Hugh Quinn, Mrs McConaghy’s Money; A Quiet Twelfth; Collecting the Rent (1932); intro to New Eversley Shakespeare (1935); Four Irish Plays (Maunsel 1914); Four One Act Plays [Magnanimous Lovers; Progress; Critics; Orangeman] (Dublin & London: Maunsel; NY: Macmillan 1914); Four One-Act Plays [The Magnanimous Lover, Progress, Ole George Comes to Tea, She Was No Lady] (London: Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1928); Ervine Omnibus, 3 pts. [Foolish Lovers; Wayward Man; Mrs Frazer] (Collins [1933; reiss. of 1920, 1929, & 1931]); Alice and a Family, A Story of South London (Dublin: Maunsel 1915); The Alleged Art of Cinema [Univ. College London Soc.); Anthony and Anna, comedy in 3 acts (London: Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1925, 1936); Boyd’s Shop, comedy in 4 acts (London: Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1936), 110pp.; Changing Winds, novel (Maunsel 1917), 571pp.; Craigavon (Allen & Unwin 1949); Eight O’Clock and Other Stories (Dublin: Maunsel 1913), 120pp.; Foolish Lovers (Chatto & Windus 1929; Collins [1931]), 128pp.; 3316pp.; Francis Place, The Tailor of Charing Cross [Fabian Tract No. 165] (1912), 27pp.; Friends and Relations, comedy in 3 acts (Allen & Unwin 1947), 100pp.; The Future of the Press [Word Press News Lib. No. 3] (London 1933) [port.]; God’s Soldier, Gen. William Booth (Heinemann 1934), vxi, vii, 1165pp.; How to Write a Play (Allen & Unwin 1914), 119pp.; Jane Clegg, a play in 3 acts (Sidgewick & Jackson 1914); If I Were a Dictator (Methuen 1934), 121pp.; John Ferguson, a play in 4 acts (Manusel 1915), 115pp.; Is Liberty Lost? [Post-war Questions] (Individualist Bookshop 1941), 47pp.; The Lady of Belmont, play in 5 acts (Allen & Unwin 1923), 95pp.; The Magnanimous Lovers, play in one act (Maunsel 1912; 4th imp. Allen & Unwin 1931), 26pp.; Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, light comedy in 4 acts (Allen & Unwin 1923), 96pp.; Mixed Marriage, a play in 4 acts [Abbey Theatre Series vol. 15] (Dublin: Maunsel 1911), 58pp.; The Mountain and Other Stories (Allen & Unwin 1928), 239pp.; Old Mrs Clifford; [with] Safety [from A Mountain, &c.] (London: Polybooks 1944), 16pp.; Mrs Martin’s Man (Maunsel 1914), 312pp.; My Brother Tom, a country comedy in 3 acts (Allen & Unwin 1952), 76pp.; Ole George Comes to Tea, comedy in 3 acts (Allen & Unwin 1931), 27pp.; Theatre, A Plea in Cvics (allen & Unwin 1924), 213pp.; Oscar Wilde, A present time reappraisal (Allen & Unwin 1951), 336pp.; Parnell (London: Ernest Benn 1925), 341pp. [port of author]; another ed. (1928 [actually 1927]); another ed. (Queensbury Press [1936]), 318pp.; another ed. [Penguin No.457] (Harmondsworth 1944), 253pp.; People of Our Class, comedy in 3 acts (Allen & Unwin [1948]), 100pp.; Progress [3rd imp.] ((Allen & Unwin 1931), 28pp.; The Ship, play in 3 acts (Allen & Unwin; NY: Macmillan 1922); Sir Edward Carson and the Ulster Movement [Irishmen of Today] (1915), 125pp. [no. publ.]; Some Impressions of my Elders (NY: Macmillan 1922), 305pp,; another ed. (Allen & Unwin 1923; rep. 1924), 286pp.; Sophia (London: Macmillan 1941), 355pp.; The State of the Soul [Essex Hall Lecture] (London: Lindsay Press 1939), 47pp.; The Theatre in My Time (London: Rich & Cowan 1933), 250pp.; The Wayward Man (London: Penguin 1936), 286pp. [END]

Belfast Public Library holds 30 titles, 1914-1959, Jane Clegg (1914, 1924); Alice and the Family; Anthony and Anna; Boyd’s Shop; Changing Winds; Eight O’Clock and Other Stories; The First Mrs. Fraser (1931), a novel; Foolish Lovers (1920); 4 One Act Plays, The Magnanimous Lover, Progress; Ole George Come to Tea; She was No Lady; (1928); Friends and Relations; How to Write a Play; John Ferguson (1919, 1934); A Journey to Jerusalem; The Lady of Belmont (1923, 1940); The Magnanimous Lover (1912); Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary (1923, 1949); Mixed Marriage (1911, 1920); Mountain and Other Stories; Parnell (1925); People of Our Class; Private Enterprise: a Play in 3 Acts (1948); Robert’s Wife; St. John Ervine Omnibus (n.d.); The Ship: A Play in Three Acts (1922, 1926, 1933); Sir Edward Carson and the Ulster Movement (1915); Sophia; The first Mrs. Fraser, a play (1930); Wayward Man (1932); The Theatre in My Time (1933); If I Were a Dictator (1934); God’s Soldier, General William Booth [1935]; Ulster (1944); Craigavon Ulsterman (1949); My Brother Tom (1952). Also 1950 Cat. Private Enterprise, A Play in 3 Acts (1948).

Cathach Books (Cat. 12) lists Four Irish Plays [Mixed Marriage, The Magnanimous Lover, the Critics, The Orangeman] (Dublin & London: Maunsel 1914).

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Sophia (1941) is being based on the idea that the title character, having died at the beginning of the novel, observes her family’s progress - consisting in her rector husband Godfrey, who remarries, and her daughters Ann and Olivia - with much of the dialogue passing between her and her father, Mr. Considine, a shrewd embodiment of Protestant non-Conformism.

No fees: Shaw conveys Ervine’s complaints about failure of Abbey to pay fees for production of his plays, in 1931 [see Dan H. Laurence & Nicholas Grene, Shaw, Lady Gregory and the Abbey: A correspondence and a Record (Gerrards Cross 1993)].

View on Shaw: Ervine converses with others on George Bernard Shaw, in W. R. Rodgers, Irish Literary Portraits (BBC 1972), pp.117-41 [broadcast in 1954]; speaks of suddenly being shorn of his social attitudes by first hearing Shaw talk [or acted].

Shaw’s methods: Ervine wrote of Shaw’s Prefaces that ‘he used them for the discussion of whatever happened to be in his head.’ (Cited by Rhoda Nathan, review of Laurence and Leary, eds., Complete Prefaces, Vol. II: 1914-1929, Penguin 1995; Irish Literary Supplement, Spring 1996, p.23.)

Easter 1916: Ervine’s memoirs and reflections on the 1916 Rising in Dublin are cited in several parts of Max Caulfield, The Easter Rebellion (1963; Gill Dublin: & Macmillan 1995).

The Lady of Belmont catches up with Shakespeare’s Shylock some years after The Merchant of Venice: ‘We cannot go back, we must go on and mingle with the world and lose ourselves in other men. I know that outward things pass and have no duration. There is nothing left but the goodness which a man performs.’ (Quoted in Norman Vance, Irish Literature: A Social History, 1990, p.185; cited in Christopher John Fauske ‘A Life Merely Glimpsed: Louis MacNeice and the End of the Anglo-Irish Tradition’, in Tjebbe A. Westentrop & Jane Mallinson, eds., The Literature of Politics, The Politics of Literature, Vol. 5, Amstersdam: Rodopi 1995, p.189.)

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