Patricia Lynch


Life
1894-1972, b. 4 June [var. 7], Cork; 2nd child of Timothy Patrick [var. Henry] Lynch, a Cork stockbroker who worked in Egypt, and d. in Cairo, 1900, leaving debts; moved with her mother Nora to her maternal grandfather's, a scholarly man living with his two unmarried dgs.; much separated from her mother while the latter pursued the legacy associated with her father's business interests in Egypt, England and America; lodged with a Mrs Hennessy, a story-teller, in West Cork, and later in boardinghouses and schools; ed. variously at convents in Ireland, England, and Belgium; published her first story at 11; settled in London and turned to journalism to support family at early death of her br. Patrick Henry; became active in suffragette movement; asked by Sylvia Pankhurst to report the 1916 Rising in The Workers Dreadnought; gave an account of events in a pamphlet, Rebel Ireland;
 
attracted positive attention of Maud Gonne and other nationalists; interviewed children’'s writer Edith Nesbit in post-War period; m. R. M. Fox, 31 Oct. 1922, having met him in c.1914 through her father’s International Workers of the World milieu; published 48 children’s novels and some 200 stories; contrib. “The Turfcutter’s Children” as a daily column in Irish Press; won Tailteann Silver Medal with “The Cobblers Apprentice”, 1932; issud The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey (1934), telling of Seamus and Eileen and the donkey Long Ears that they rescue from cruel tinkers [travellers], which then leads the children into magic realms (two edns. printed in 1935 and a third in 1959); trans. into Irish as Eibhlín agus Séamus, and other languages;
 
issued the “Brogeen Stories”, featuring an adventurous leprachaun; hailed by Irish Bookman as classics, ‘so natural and true to the life of Ireland and to that elfin land which is so near us all’ (IF); issued semi-autobiographical A Story-Teller’s Childhood (1947); lived in North Dublin, and later with the Eugene and Mai Lambert, in Monkstown, Co. Dublin, after the death of her husband in Dec. 1969; d. 1 Sept. 1972; subject of memorial exhibition at Munich Library, 1966; works illustrated by Jack B. Yeats, Elizabeth Rivers, and others; Poolbeg reprinted nine titles to 1998; a biographical study was issued by Phil Young in 2005; her papers are held in the National Library of Ireland. IF DIB DIW DIH DIL ATT OCIL
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Works
  • The Green Dragon (London: Harrap [1925]);
  • The Turf Cutter’s Donkey: An Irish Story of Mystery and Adventure (London: Dent 1934; 1957), 244pp., ill. by Jack Yeats;
  • The Turf Cutter’s Goes Visiting: The Story of an Island Holiday (London: J. M. Dent 1935), 229pp.;
  • King of the Tinkers (London: J. M. Dent; NY: Dutton 1938), ill. Kat[h]erine Lloyd;
  • Grey Goose of Kelnevin (London: J. M. Dent 1939; NY: Dutton [1939]), 284pp., ill. John [sic] Keating, [being a story first printed in The Irish Press, ill. George Altendorf]; Do., [rep.] (Children’s Press (1984); Fiddler’s Quest (London: J. M. Dent 1941) 309pp.;
  • Long Ears (London: J. M. Dent 1943);
  • Strangers at the Fair & Other Stories (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1945), 159pp., ill. E. Coghlan [19 stories]; Knights of God (London: Hollis & Carter [1946]; Chicester: H Regnery [1955]; London & Sidney Bodley Head 1967; NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston [1969];
  • The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey Kicks Up His Heels (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1946);
  • Lisheen at the Valley Farm & Other Stories [Dublin: Gayfield 1949];
  • The Cobbler’s Apprentice (Lonn: Hollis & Carter 1947), 124pp.;
  • Cobbler’s Luck (London: Burke [1957], 160pp., ill. by Christopher Brooker;
  • The Seventh Pig, and Other Irish Fairy Tales (London: Dent [1950]), 230pp.;
  • The Mad O’Haras (London: J. M. Dent [1948], 338pp.;
  • The Dark Sailor of Youghal (London: Dent 1951), 224pp., ill. by J. Sullivan;
  • The Boy at the Swinging Lantern (London: J. M. Dent [1952]), 222pp.;
  • Tales of Irish Enchantment (Dublin: Clonmore & Reynolds [1952], ill. by Fergus O’Ryan [15 stories]; Grania of Castle O’Hara (Boston: LC Page [1952]);
  • Tinker Boy (London: J. M. Dent [1955]), 182pp.;
  • The Bookshop on the Quay (London: J. M. Dent [1956]), 186pp.
BROGEEN STORIES
  • Brogeen of the Stepping Stones (London: Kerr-Cross 1947);
  • Brogeen Follows the Magic Tune (London: Burke [1952]);
  • Brogeen and the Green Shores (London: Burke [1953]);
  • Brogeen and the Bronze Lizard (London: Burke [1954]/NY: Macmillan [1970);
  • Brogeen and the Princess of Sheen (London: Burke [1955]); Brogeen and the Lost Castle ([Lon;]Burke [1956];
  • Brogeen and the Black Enchanter (London: Burke [1958]);
  • Brogeen and the Little Wind (NY: Roy Publishers [1963]);
  • Brogeen and the Red Fez (London: Burke 1963);
  • Orla of Burren (London: Dent [1954]), 182pp.; Delia Daly of Galloping Green (London: Dent [1953]), 185pp. [ill. by Joan Kiddell-Monroe];
  • Fiona Leaps the Bonfire (London: Dent [1957]);
  • The Old Black Sea Chest (London: J. M. Dent [1958]), ill. by Peggy Fortnum;
  • Shane Comes to Dublin (NY: Criterion Bks [1958]);
  • The Stone House at Kilgobbin ([London: Burke [1959]);
  • Jimmy the Changeling (London: J. M. Dent [1959]) [IF Jinny … &c.];
  • The Black Goat of Slievemore & Other Irish Fairy Tales (London: J. M. Dent [1959]) [rep. under new of older stories with one addition IF];
  • The Runaways (Oxford: Blackwell 1959);
  • The Lost Fisherman of Carrigmore (London: Burke 1960);
  • Sally from Cork (London: J. M. Dent [1960]);
  • The Longest Way Round (London: Burke 1961);
  • Ryan’s Fort (London: J. M. Dent 1961);
  • The Golden Caddy (London: Dent [1962];
  • The House by Lough Neagh (London: Dent 1963);
  • Guest at the Beach Tree (London: Burke 1964);
  • Holiday at Rosquin (London: Dent 1964), ill.;
  • The Twisted Key & Other Stories (London: Harrap 1964);
  • Mona of the Isle (London: Dent [1964]);
  • The Kerry Caravan (London: Dent 1967).
 
Reprints, Robert Dunbar, ed. and intro., Secret Lands: The Patricia Lynch Collection (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1998); A Storyteller’s Childhood [1947] (London: Children’s Press 1982); The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey (Dublin: Poolbeg 1998), 240pp.; Robert Dunabr, ed., Secret Lands: Patricia Lynch Collection (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1998), 192pp.
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Criticism
Phil Young, Patricia Lynch: Storyteller (Dublin: Liberties 2005), 224pp., ill. [+16pp. col.; see interview-article, infra.]

[ There is a Patricia Lynch Wikipedia page - online. ]

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Commentary
Phil Young, ‘The Turf Cutter’s Donkey’ [interviewed by Shirley Kelly], in Books Ireland (October 2005), pp.217-18 [synopsis]: b. Cork, initially grew up in Sunday’s Well; second child of Nora and Timothy, who practiced uunsuccessfully in Egypt during her childhood; moved family to Fair Hill, sharing with his own father and his four siblings; when her mother and considerably older br. Patrick Henry moved to Egypt, 1899, Patricia was taken in by Mrs Hennessy, acting as a surrogate mother and formerly a constant visitor to the Fair Hill home, who was a west Cork seanchaí, travelling to West Cork on a donkey; experienced encounters with tinkers [itinerants]; death of father in Egypt; Patricia rejoins family in East End London, where Patrick Henry found work; Patricia left in care of landladies, boardingschools, and an impoverished aunt in Cork while Patrick and Nora traveled to Paris and the US to resolve her father’s affairs; travelled in with family to Egypt in her teens, but fell ill in Bruges and left behind in boarding house; in the pension where she stayed she met a Miss Carmichael, English travel-writer who advised: ‘You should learn shorthand and typewriting. With them, and a good knowledge of English, a girl can go through the world’; returned to Britain in relative comfort having secured the legacy in Cairo; entered commercial college in London after schooling; became involved in women’s movement, and contrib. to a The Workers’ Dreadnought (ed. Mrs. Sylvia Pankhurst); travelled to Dublin at time of 1916 Rising, her articles coming to the notice of W. B. Yeats and Maud Gonne; met Countess Markievicz an, AE (George Russell) and other nationalists; worked as freelance journalist in London, supporting her mother after early death of Patrick Henry; mother moved to Dublin in 1919, dying in 1922; met Richard M. Fox through her brother in London and m. October 1922, in London; settled in Dublin; helped by AE to find work in journalism; contrib. short stories to Irish and British magazines; inspired by Edith Nesbit (who believed that children’s books could only be written ‘by those who remember what one felt like as a child, and have never quite grown away from it’); issued The Green Dragon (Harrap 1925); issued The Cobbler’s Apprentice (1931), winning a national literary award; breakthrough with “The Turf-Cutter’s Children”, story-series in the Irish Press, leading to a three-book series beginning with The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey; wrote some some fifty books, illustrated by artists incl. Jack Yeats, Sean Keating and George Altendorf; popular in America; translated into German, French and Japanese and other languages; adapted for radio and television series in Ireland and UK; regularly gave talks and interviews; But remained firmly rooted in Dublin (‘too much gardening to do’); no children of her own; close friends with the Eugene and Mai Lambert (viz., RTE’s “Wanderly Wagon”) and regarded as g-m. by their ten children; moved in with the Lamberts on death of R. M. Fox; d. 1972; issued an autobiography, A Storyteller’s Childhood (Dent 1947); called by Young the first Irish writer to ‘introduce Irish children to books and stories in which the protagonist come from backgrounds grounded in the Irish landscape, rural and urban, and where the characters voice the concerns of Irish children’, who also ‘brought to life for Irish children, and an international readership, avast heritage of myth, folklore and legend, blending fantasy and reality in a very appealing way’ thus ‘put[ting] Irish children’s literature on the world map and pav[ing] the way for a new generation of Irish children’s writers and their publishers.’

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References
Libraries: BELFAST CENTRAL LIBRARY holds 10 titles including Brogeen and the Green Shoes (1953). SLIGO PUBLIC LIBRARY-MUSEUM holds copy of The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey, ill. by Jack Yeats, and The Grey Goose of Kelnevin (London: J. M. Dent 1939), 285pp., ill. John [sic] Keating, [being a story first printed in The Irish Press, ill. George Altendorf], and ending: ‘“Am I that handsome?”, she hissed. “Ah! If the gander could only see me now!”’ (p.285).

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Notes
Variant biography: note that her father is described in standard reference works as a labour activist in London, and see correction in Phil Young, supra.

Edith Nesbit, whom Patricia Lynch interviewed after the First World War, remarked to her: ‘I love children, but books for children cannot be written by those who merely like or study them. It is only possible for those who remember what one felt like as a child, and have never quite grown away from it.’ Lynch kept her interview with Nesbit by her desk with that passages underlined in it. (See Teresa Doran, review of Phil Young, Patricia Lynch, Storyteller, in Books Ireland, Nov. 2007, p.261.)

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