Richard Ashe King
1839-1932 [pseud. Basil; Desmond OBrien]
; b. 9 Nov., Ennis, Co. Clare, son of headmaster of Ennis College, ed.
there and at TCD; ord. Church of England; vicar of Low Moor, Bradford;
gave up Church of England living to write in 1881; contrib. Cornhill Magazine and Pall Mall; moved to London; worked as extension
lecturer of Oxford and London Univ. and private tutor; first novel, Love
the Debt (1882), a story of English life ser. in Cornhill,
ed. Leslie Stephen; followed by The Wearing of the Green (1884),
first ser. in Belgravia; others include A Drawn Game (1884); Bell
Barry (1891), a seaboard romance involving a gallery of racy
Irish characters; A Coquettes Conquest; A Geraldine
(1893); contrib. Freemans Journal, Truth, &c.; Swift in Ireland [var. Life of Swift]; and Goldsmith;
President of Irish Literary Society (London); gave paper on his Memories to the Society in 1930, aetat. 92; a frequent visitor to Ireland,
he lived in Blackrock in the 1880s [viz., a little cottage near Kingstown, in Yeatss Memoirs, p.54); d. London, 27 May; BL holds fiction
7 titles. JMC IF DIW SUTH OCIL
Love the Debt, 3 vols. (London: Chatto & Windus 1882); A
Drawn Game, 3 vols. (London: Chatto & Windus 1884); The Wearing
of the Green, 3 vols. (London: Chatto & Windus 1886), 299pp.; A Coquettes Conquest (London: R. Bentley 1885); A Shadowed
Life, 3 vols. (London: Ward & Downey 1886); A Leal Lass,
2 vols. (London: Ward & Downey 1888); Passions Slave (London:
Chatto & Windus 1889); Loves Legacy, 3 vols. (London:
Ward & Downey 1890); Bell BArry, 2 vols. (London: Chatto &
Windus 1891); A Geraldine, 2 vols. (London: Ward & Downey 1893); Swift in Ireland (London: T. Fisher Unwin 1895); Oliver Goldsmith (London: Methuen 1910). Qry, The Wearing of the Green,
3 vols. (London: Chatto & Windus 1884).
W. B. Yeats reviewed his Swift in Ireland in Bookman, June
1896; see also The Silenced Sister: A Letter to the Editor of United
Ireland Concerning a lecture delivered by Richard Ashe King to the National
Literary Society in Dublin, Dec. 8, 1893) [infra].
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W. P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival (1894), ... in Wearing
of the Green the Land League found its illustration in fiction ;
remarks, [h]e is intensely Celtic, but too candid to overlook the
Celts failings, as the Society is well aware. Since he gave up his
living in the Church of England some years ago, he has devoted his powers
to criticism and fiction. Truth has had keen critical studies from his
pen, and a couple of years since he wrote Irish literary papers for the Freemans Journal over the signature of Fergus.
As Basil in Cornhill he became famous with The Wearing
of the Green, a story of the Land League. Readers will not forget
its clever characterisation, or the animated conversations wherein the
case of Ireland; is stated anew, and with bracing effect.
Irish and other novels have followed this success, though at long intervals.
Mr King, we feel sure, is no more than in the midst of his best period.
W. B. Yeats,
The Silenced Sister (1893): It is of the very nature
of oratory that the orator should make his hearers feel he is convinced
of what he is saying, and, therefore, he is forever tempted to assume,
for the sake of effect, a show of sincerity and vehement conviction, or,
what is worse, to become really sincere and vehemently convinced about
things of which he has no adequate knowledge. ([...] Letter to the
Editor of United Ireland Concerning a lecture delivered by Richard Ashe
King to the National Literary Society in Dublin, Dec. 8, 1893; rep.
in Frayne, ed., Uncollected Prose, Vol. 1, Macmillan 1970, p.308;
see longer extract, infra.) See also remarks in Memoirs (ed. Denis Donoghue, Macmillan 1972): he was gentle and amiable, and the only man, O'Leary would say, that I ever met who acknowledges that his will is weak [...] I troubled his life a good deal for I got him to write and say unpopular truths, and he seemed overwhelmed when he say how unpopular they were. That anybody should be disliked for an idea filled him with wonder. (p.54.)
Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde (1974), c.p.30., and
note; Richard Ashe King, ed. TCD, retired from living in Low Moor, Bradford,
to write novels. Apparently living at Blackrock when Hyde lunched with
him there 13 Oct. 1889.
Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction:
A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. I] (Dublin:
Maunsel 1919), gives bio-data: b. Clare, ed. Ennis, and TCD; pseuds. Basil
and Desmond OBrien; extension lecturer of Oxford and
London Univ.; W. P. Ryan called him intensely Celtic, [sic] but
too candid to overlook the Celts failings [as infra]; contrib.
reviews to Cornhill Magazine, and Pall Mall Gazette; works
incl. A Leal Lass, with Irish setting; Love the Debt; A
Drawn Game; A Coquettes Conquest, and a life of Swift;
contrib. Freemans Journal, Truth, &c.; lived in
Blackrock in the 1880s; wrote The Wearing of the Green (London:
Chatto & Windus 1886 [?sic]), 299pp. [true-love romance, with caustic
sketches of the English, and sympathy with Irish grievances]; Bell
Barry (London: Chatto & Windus 1892), 332pp. [insufferable proselytising
prigs, one of whom is reformed]; A Geraldine, 2 vols. (London:
Ward & Downey 1893) [land troubles, heroine is dg. of rack-renting
squireen, incl. villainous attorney and bigoted clergyman; author takes
popular side against the RIC]. Bibl., Mrs. Hinkson [Katharine Tynan], Reminiscences of Twenty-Five Years.
Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish
Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904) selects
Politics at Dinner, an extract from The Wearing of the
Green; this novel followed by Bell Barry (; new ed. Chatto
& Windus 1892).
Belfast Public Library holds
A Coquettes Conquest (1887); A Geraldine (1893); Love the Debt (1887);
Loves Legacy (1892); Oliver Goldsmith (1910); Swift in Ireland (1875);
Wearing of the Green [sic] (1886); Six Lectures on the Lit.
of the age of Queen Anne (1908).
Susan Mitchell met Ashe King among others while in the Yeats household
in London (as recounted in her George Moore).