Darrell Figgis (1882-1925)


Life
[Edward Darrell Figgis; pseud. “Michael Ireland”;] b. to Protestant parents, Rathmines, Dublin, raised in Calcutta, India, where his father, A. W. Figgis, worked as a tea agent and estab. a tea importing company; returned to Ireland, 1902; worked as tea-broker in London and Calcutta, 1898-1910 [var. Ceylon]; publ. poems in A Vision of Life (1909), with a preface by G. K. Chesterton, securing him a position as a reader for Dent, 1910-13, and eventually became an editor; settled at 42 Asmuns Hill, in Hampstead Gardens, London; wrote fiction incl. Broken Arcs (1911); returned to Ireland, 1913; bought a cottage [var. built] on Achill Island, 1913; established Achill Volunteers; his play, Queen Tara, produced by F. R. Benson at the Abbey, 1913;
 
involved with Bulmer Hobson and others in Howth gun-running, following meeting of 8 May 1914 at the home of A. S. Green and, with Erksine Childers, was instructed to buy arms for the Irish Volunteers (‘Let us buy arms and so at least get into the problem’), travelling to Belgium, then to Germany; prevented by weather from signalling all-clear to Asgard at Lambay Island; imprisoned after the Rising, and held in Reading Gaol, 1916; later wrote of experiences in Castlebar, Stafford and Reading prisons (A Chronicle of Jails, 1917); worked as a free-lance journalist and ed. stories of Carleton (1918); with Austin Stack, elected Hon. Sec. Sinn Féin, 1917-19; arrested and imprisoned, May 1918;
 
issued new novel, Jacob Elthorne (1914); also Children of Earth (1918), about life on Aran; TD, Dáil Éireann, 1918; disliked by Michael Collins; ed. The Republic, Jun-Sept. 1919; Sec. of Commission of Inquiry into the Resources and Industries of Ireland, 1919-22; issued The Economic Case for Irish Independence (1920), basing his arguments heavily upon putative over-taxation; acting chairman of Free State Constitution Committee; TD, Dublin, 1922; stood as independent candidate in S. Dublin, but abandoned race when 3 Republicans invaded his flat in Dublin and shaved off half his beard (reported in Evening Herald, 13 June 1922); work include novels and studies of George Russell and William Carleton [see infra]; House of Success (1922), about two generations of a middle-class Irish family;
 
issued The Return of the Hero (1923), on Oisín and Patrick; appears as Ompleby in Eimar O’Duffy’s The Wasted Land (1919); an object of ridiculous attacked in the same manner as Figgis; his wife Millie committed suicide by gunshot, 1924 (var. 1923); became involved with another woman, who also died, shortly before his own suicide, poss. occasioned by involvement in scandal surrounding Irish Broadcasting [RÉ] committee, in which which he was concerned; P. S. O’Hegarty prepared a bibliography in 1938. PI DIB DIW DIH DIL IF1 IF2 OCIL FDA

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Works
Poetry
  • A Vision of Life, with an introduction by G[ilbert] K. Chesterton (London: John Lane 1909), xv, 100pp.;
  • The Crucible of Time and Other Poems (London: John Lane 1911);
  • The Mount of Transfiguration (Dublin: Maunsel 1915).
Drama
  • Queen Tara (London: Dent 1913);
  • Teigue: A Drama of Souls (Dublin: Maunsel & Co. [1918]), [2] pp.99-115, [5]pp., 18.3cm.
Fiction
  • Broken Arcs (London: Dent 1911; NY & London: M. Kennerly 1912), v. 430pp.;
  • [as Michael Ireland], Jacob Elthorne (London & Toronto: Dent 1914);
  • Children of Earth (Dublin: Maunsel 1918);
  • House of Success (Gaelic Co-Operative Society 1921);
  • [pseud. Michael Ireland,] The Return of the Hero (London & Sydney: Chapman & Dodd 1923); and Do. (NY: C. Boni 1930) [as Figgis, with intro. by James Stephens and introduction by prob. Padraic Colum].
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Miscellaneous
  • Shakespeare: A Study (London: J. M. Dent 1911), 345, [1]pp., ill [2 lvs. pls.; 22 cm.; Do. NY & London: M. Kennerly 1912) [see contents];
  • Studies and Appreciations (London: Dent 1912), vii, 2589pp. [see contents];
  • AE: A Study of A Man and A Nation [Irishmen of Today Ser.] (Dublin & London: Maunsel 1916), 159pp.; Do. [facs. rep.] (Port Washington, N.Y : Kennikat Press, [1970]), 159pp.; and Do. (Dublin: Nonsuch [2006])
  • A Chronicle of Jails (Dublin: Talbot 1917; 3rd imp. 1918), 109pp.; Do. [rep. edn.] (UCD Press 2010), 160pp.
  • The Gaelic State Past and Future (Dublin: Maunsel 1917), 64pp.;
  • By Ways of Study (Dublin: Talbot; London: Unwin 1918);
  • Sinn Féin Catechism (Talbot [1918]), 29pp.
  • A Short Plot: A Sidelight on Political Expediency (Dublin: Maunsel 1918), 30pp.
  • A Second Chronicle of Jails (Dublin: Talbot 1919);
  • The Historic Case for Irish Independence (Dublin & London: Maunsel 1920), 40pp.[see details ];
  • The Irish Constitution / explained / by / Darrell Figgis) (Dublin: Mellifont Press [1922]), 100pp. [incls. ‘Draft constitution of the Irish Free State’, pp.63-95; ded. ‘I inscribe this book / to my friend / ARTHUR GRIFFITH’; available online].
  • The Paintings of William Blake (London: Ernest Benn; NY: Scribner’s 1925), ill. [100 pls.];
  • Recollections of the Irish War (London: Ernest Benn 1927).
Miscellaneous
  • ‘Charles Dickens’, in Nineteen Century and After, LXXI (7 Feb. 1912), [11pp. offprint; V&A Libraries];
  • Ed. & intro., William Carleton, Stories of Irish Life [Every Irishman’s Library] (Talbot [1918]), xxxiv, 364pp.;
  • and Introduction to The Foundation of Peace (Dublin: Maunsel 1920).
Query: poss. author of anonymous Ireland’s Brehon Laws [CTS n.d.], 32pp, pamphlet bound in Irish History and Archaeology collection.

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Digital Figgis - Internet sources
The Irish Constitution explained by Darrell Figgis (Mellifont Press Ltd. [1922]) is available at the Internet Archive [online; accessed 02.07.2010.
The Historic Case for Irish Independence (1920) by Darrell Figgis is available online at LibraryIreland.com [online; accessed 20.10.2010]
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Bibliographical details
Shakespeare: A Study (London: J. M. Dent 1911), 345, [1]pp., ill [2 lvs. pls.; 22 cm.] CONTENTS: [Introduction; His life; His stage; His craft; His art; His thought; His personality; Notes; Index of names].

Studies and Appreciations (London: J. M. Dent 1912), vii, 2589pp. CONTENTS: Contents: Afterthoughts; In praise of praise; J. M. Synge; The art of J. M. Synge; Robert Browning’s vision; Falstaff’s nose; The problem of Mr. William Watson; Mr. W. B. Yeats’ poetry; Mr. William H. Davies; Mr. Herbert Trench; Mr. Robert Bridges; George Meredith: the philosopher in the artist; Charles Dickens and the novel: The failure of Thackeray; An aspect of Samuel Butler; The vitality of drama.

The Historic Case for Irish Independence (1920)- Contents:
 
Preface
In Preface and in Protest

‘Writers of good books and writers of bad books, according to their skill, shape their work as an architect shapes a building. In the building to which this protest is a preface an important stone near the pinnacle has been chipped away; and all the pinnacle itself, which was the crown toward which the building ascended, has been shorn off. Unfortunately, it is of no avail to protest against the vandalism: it is only necessary to indicate it; and to wait for better days of which the pinnacle might have given a hint and expressed a hope.’ Baile Atha Cliath / Lá Bealtaine 1918. [see further extracts, attached.]

  1. Prelude
  2. Creation of a National Polity, 300-1000 A.D.
  3. State Stability, 360-1000 A.D.
  4. Foundation of the State, 200-1000 A.D.
  5. Re-Creation of European Culture, 600-1100 A.D.
  6. Foreign Military Invasion, 1168-1171.
  7. Foreign State Assumption and National War, 1171 A.D..
  8. Nature of the National War, 1171-1315.
  9. Formal Repudiation of Foreign Dominion, 1315-1318.
  10. Re-creation of National State and Renewal of the Life of the Nation, 1319-1367
    Statutes of Kilkenny, 1367 A.D..
  11. England’s Difficulty: Ireland’s Revival of Prosperity, 1319-1486 A.D..
  12. Renewal of War by Statecraft, 1486-1537.
  13. Nature of the War, 1500-1541.
  14. Extension of English Crown and Polity over Irish Crown and Polity: the Manner of its Accomplishment, 1541-1558.
  15. The First Plantations: Their Cause, Meaning and Effect, 1558-1590.
  16. Hugh O’Neill, 1590-1603.
  17. Further Plantations and Uprooting of National Polity, 1603-1641.
  18. Contrast of the Two Contending Conceptions of Civilisation 1550-1641.
  19. Confiscation by Legal Craft, 1628-1641.
  20. National Bondage, 1608-1641.
  21. Renewal of War, 1641-1650
  22. “Hell or Connacht,” 1653-1654.
  23. The Return of the Nation to its Old Lands, 1660-1689.
  24. Renewed War, 1689-1691.
  25. Penal Code 1691-1795.
  26. State of the Nation, 18th Century.
  27. The Rise of the Garrison, 1698-1779.
  28. Its Demand for Independence, 1779-1783.
  29. The Character of Grattan’s Parliament, and its Effect on the Nation, 1783-1800.
  30. The Rising of 1798.
  31. Act of Union, 1800.
  32. Meaning of Act of Union and its Effect, 1800.
  33. Robert Emmet, 1803.
  34. The Forces Behind Daniel O’Connell, 1823-1829.
  35. The Failure of Daniel O’Connell, 1829-1843.
  36. Starvation, 1845-1851
  37. Young Ireland, 1843-1848.
  38. Risings the Heir to Risings, 1848-1867.
  39. The Land War and its Significance, 1848-1903.
  40. War in the Enemy’s Camp, 1877-1903.
  41. The Awakening of the Nation, 1891-1913.
  42. Declaration of Independence, 1914-1916.
—See digital edition - attached..

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Criticism
  • John J. Dunn, ‘An Almost Anonymous Author’, in Journal of Irish Literature, XV (Jan 1986) [biographical essay but omits broadcasting commission];
  • John J. Dunn, ‘Darrell Figgis, a Man Nearly Anonymous’, in Journal of Irish Literature, 15, 1 (January 1986), pp.33-42;
  • Alexander G. Gonzalez, ‘The Achievement of Darrell Figgis’s Children of Earth: Realism and Folk Custom’, in Eire-Ireland, 22, 3 (Fall 1987), pp.129-43;
  • Paul Deane, ‘The Death of Greatness: Darrell Figgis’s Return of the Hero’, in Notes on Modern Irish Literature, 3 (1991), pp.30-36;
  • Alexander G. Gonzalez, ‘Darrell Figgis’s The House of Success: A Forgotten Historical Novel’, in Eire-Ireland, 26, 4 (Winter 1991), pp.118-25;
  • Alexander G. Gonzalez, ‘Darrell Figgis’s The House of Success, A Forgotten Historical Novel’, in Éire-Ireland 26, 4 (Winter 1991), pp.118-25;
  • Alexander G. Gonzalez, Darrell Figgis: A Study of His Novels [Modern Irish Literature Monograph Series] (PA: Kopper 1992);
  • Maryann Felter, ‘Darrell Figgis: An Overview of His Work’, in Journal of Irish Literature, 22, 2 (May 1993), pp.3-24;
  • José Lanters, ‘Darrell Figgis, The Return of the Hero, and the Making of the Irish Nation’, in Colby Quarterly, 31, 3 (September 1995) pp.204-13.
  • See also Ernest O’Malley, On Another Man’s Wound (Dublin & London: Maunsel 1936); Gerald Griffin, The Dead March Past: A Semi-Autobiographical Saga (London: Macmillan 1937); Edgar Holt, Protest in Arms: The Irish Troubles 1916-1923 (NY: Coward McCann 1960); and F. X. Martin, The Howth Gun-Running and the Kilcoole Gun-Running 1914 (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1964); Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal: The Irish Revolution in Literature from Parnell to the Death of W. B. Yeats, 1891-1939 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan; NJ: Rowman & Littlefield 1977), pp.98-101 [see extract].
Note: There are references in Irish Book Lover, Vol. 11.

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Commentary
Austin Clarke, ‘A Centenary Celebration’, in Robin Skelton & David R. Clark, eds., Irish Renaissance [A Gathering of Essays, Memoirs, and Letters from the Massachusetts Review] (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1965): his account of the Davis meeting of 20 Nov. 1914 refers to a heckler at the back of the hall being ‘tall, red-bearded man, who looked like Darrell Figgis, the poet and critic, [who] jumped to his feet angrily shouting above the others’ at Thomas Kettle. (pp.90-93.)

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George Dangerfield, The Strange Death of Liberal England (?1932; and rev. ed. 1972) ‘Bachelor’s Walk’ [chap.], gives account of Figgis’s part in the Howth gun-running, quoting his own narrative beginning with the meeting in Alice Stopford Green’s room in London overlooking the Thames, when Figgis exclaims: ‘Buy the guns, then, if only to be in on it’, and Casement replies, ‘Now that’s talking’, radiant with delight. Figgis organises the purchase of the guns, with Childers, from the Magnus Bros. in Hamburg (including dum-dum bullets off-loaded by the latter) and cleverly circumvents the inspection rulings at the harbour; gives the British steamer the slip in Dublin Bay by circulating a rumour of a landing at Waterford; and, which Hobson, engages the officer of the Scottish Borderers in talk near Howth, while the volunteers slip away with the 1,000 rifles (out of 1,500 purchased) delivered there; Dangerfield comments that, since Hobson and Figgis each sought to represent themselves as central to the event, the necessary casualty was truth.

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Malcolm Brown, Politics of Irish Literature: From Thomas Davis to W. B. Yeats ( 1972), cites Figgis as an ‘Irish poet’ who demonstrated that, in the comparison between Dublin and Warsaw for the worst slums in Europe, Dublin ‘got the worst of it’ [ftn. The Economic Case for Irish Independence, 1920, pp.2-10]. Brown adds some pages later: ‘afterwards the practical benefits of Irish liberation proved to be less than overwhelming’, though ‘nobody has proposed that independence ought to be called off as a bad job’ (see pp.3; 5-6.)

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Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal: The Irish Revolution in Literature from Parnell to the Death of Yeats, 1891-1939 (Gill & Macmillan 1977), pp.98-101; also cites Ernie O’Malley’s vignette of Figgis: ‘Figgis was not popular; it was thought he was too vain. Stories were told about his Christlike beard. His manner, his insistent focus of attention on his words, was the porcupine quill effect of an artist amongst those who thought of nationality alone. He was egotistical; it could be seen in his face and mannerisms; his image was reflected in the half-suppressed smiles of his listeners. He had come from another life; he would find it hard now, I felt. I had read his novels; Children of Earth was the best book I had read about the West of Ireland. He was pleasant when he talked to me of his books; but he had the unfortunate habit of making enemies.’ (On Another Man’s Wounds, 1936, p.77; Costello, p.126.)

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Liam Kennedy, ‘The Union of Ireland and Britain, 1801-1921’, in Colonialism, Religion and Nationalism in Ireland (IIS/QUB 1996): ‘The ideas of another of the separatist propagandists, Darrell Figgis, were even less convincing [than Griffith’s]. The absence of protectionism as a cause of Ireland’s industrial decline plays second fiddle to a series of ad hoc explanations, some bordering on the eccentric. He argued, for example, that the Irish railways were built to link military barracks rather than commercial centres, thereby damaging Irish industry. Belfast’s economic progress is attributed to its being a ‘military depot’ at the time the rail network was established. (Economic Case, 1920, p.37). Additionally, he suggests that there had been constant attempts by the Castle administration to stifle promising areas of economic development: among the examples cited were Dunlop’s pneumatic tyre and Galway’s potential as a transatlantic port. (ibid., pp.40-43.)

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Quotations
Reviewing Corkery: In a review of Daniel Corkery’s Munster Twilight in The Irish School Weekly (26 Dec. 1916), Figgis adverts unfavourably to the open-endedness of the stories, and the refusal to shape the material to the demands of narrative. Includes a discussion of the relation between Anglo-Irish literature and writing in Irish, and offers an undogmatic definition of the former, ‘that is to say the use of the English language in books by Irishmen writing of their own affairs and from their national point of view.’ Figgis regards the stories of the collection other than the first, with its baroque splendour, as ‘mainly sketches glimpses and notes for stories.’ (See Patrick Walsh, UUC Thesis on Corkery and Hewitt, 1993, p.44.)

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References
Dictionary of Irish History
uses the word ‘mistress’ for his second alliance, and give no explicit account of the cause of suicide; adds titles, AE, George Russell, A Study of a Man and a Nation (1915); note var. The Economic Case for Irish Independence (1920); The Irish Constitution Explained (1922).

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. 1] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), cites Children of the Earth (1918), set in Achill, therein called Maolan; IF2 adds Return of the Hero (1923); The House of Success (1921). BIBL, Shakespeare, A Study (Dent 1911) [Whelan Cat. 32]. DIL characterises his poetry as the work of a talentless AE; Queen Tara is set in Ruritania. IF2, Darrell Figgis is a character in Eimar O’Duffy’s The Wasted Island (1919; 1929).

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (1991), Vol. 2, p.1012: Daniel Corkery writes [in Synge and Anglo-Irish Lit., 1931], ‘What wonder that those of them who most deeply sank themselves in their subject wrote far above their accustomed pitch? Darrel[l] Figgis with his Children of the Earth ...’.

Maunsel Press: publication list attached to St. John Ervine, Mrs Martin’s Man [pop. edn.] (, 1915), incls. notices of The Mount of Transfiguration, new vol. of poems by Darrell Figgis, author of Jacob Elthorn, A Study in Shakespeare, Queen Tara, &c.

Cathach Bks (Cat. 12) lists The Irish Constitution (n.d.); The House of Success (Dublin 1921); Bye Ways of Study (Dublin 1918).

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Whelan Books (Cat. 32)lists Figgis, Introduction to William Carleton, Stories of Irish Life (Talbot n.d. [1918]).

Hyland Books (Oct. 1995; Cat. 219) lists Maurice Moore, Report on Peat (Dublin Dec. 1921), 110pp., large folding map.

Belfast Public Library holds AE (1916); Bye-ways of Study (1918); Gaelic State Past and Future (1917); Irish Constitution (1922); Mount of Transfiguration (1915); Recollections of the Irish War (1927)

Belfast Linen Hall Library holds Mount of Transfiguration (1915); AE, A Study of a Man and a Nation (1916)

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