Fitz-James O’Brien

Life
1828-1862 [var. Fitzjames O’Brien]; Co. Cork and raised in Castleconnell, Co. Limerick; wrote in manner of Poe; prolific contrib. to journals incl. Nation, Dublin University Magazine, Irishman, and Cork Magazine; emigrated to America [Boston?]; enjoyed a success there with his play The Gentleman from Ireland (1854); contrib. his best-known story, “The Diamond Lens”, to Atlantic Monthly (1857); died of wounds sustained at Battle of Bloomery Gap in the American Civil War, 6 April 1862; work posthum. edited by his friend William Winter as The Diamond Lens and Other Stories (1887). PI IF DIW MKA JMC OCAL OCIL

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Works
  • William Winter, ed., The Poems and Stories of Fitz-james O’Brien (Boston 1881);
  • William Winter, ed., The Diamond Lens and Other Stories by Fitz-James O'Brien, collected and edited with a sketch of the author, by William Winter (London: Ward & Downey 1887), [2], xx, 337, [1]pp. [19.3cm].
  • Michael Hayes, ed. & intro., The Fantastic Tales of Fitz-James O’Brien (London: Calder 1977), 149pp. [contains “The Diamond Lens”; “The Lost Room”; “What Was It?”; “The Wondersmith”; “Seeing the World”; “The Pot of Tulips”; “The Dragon Fang Possessed by the Conjurer Piou-Lu”.

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Criticism
Francis Wolle, Fitz-james O’Brien: A Literary Bohemian of the Eighteen-fifties (Colorado 1944) 309pp.

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Quotations
The Wondersmith” [first sentence]: ‘A small lane, the name of which I have forgotten, or do not choose to remember, slants suddenly off Catham Street (before that headlong thoroughfare rushes into the Park), and retreats suddenly down towards the East River, as if it were disgusted with the smell of old clothes, and had determined to wash itself clean. [...] ’ (In Poems and Stories of Fitzjames O'Brien, ed. William Winter, Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co. 1881, p.177; quoted in Patrick Rafroidi, ‘The Irish Short Story in English: The Birth of a New Tradition’, in The Irish Short Story, ed. Terence Brown & Rafroidi, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1979, p.28.

Two Poems by Fitz-james O’Brien
“The Demon of the Gibbet”
“The Lost Steamship”

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References

A webage dedicated to Fitz-james O’Brien: existed at www.vreative.net [online - accessed April 1999; defunct Aug. 2010].

D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912) lists The Poems and Stories of F. O’Brien, [collected by his friend William Winter] (Boston 1881); he is represented by 2 pieces in Hayes’s Ballads.

Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), gives extract from  “The Diamond Lens”, fiction, and “Loch Ina”, poetry. See also under under ‘Street Songs and Ballads’ (Irish Literature, 1904), which reprints “Molly Muldoon”, written about 1850 [and] sometimes ascribed to Fitzjames O’Brien: ‘Molly Muldoon was an Irish girl, / And as fine a one / As you’d look upon / In the cot of a peasant or the hall of an earl. / Her teeth were white, though not of pearl [...] Now Molly Muldoon liked Jemmy O’Hare [...] An Irish courtship’s short and sweet / It’s sometimes foolish and indiscreet [during the service the bridegroom’s ‘piercing eye sometime awful espied!’ and the bride laid her eyes on the bridegroom no more!’ - until the day a an American letter is brought to the priest [saying] ‘not in her karacter, yer Riv’rence, a flaw [...] but I saw, God forgive her, a hole in her stocking!’ the moral conclusion disparagates a love that would be upset by a ‘broken stocking’.

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Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), lists The Poems and Stories of Fitzjames O’Brien (1881); The Diamond Lens and Other Stories (London: Downey & Co. 1887).

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Stephen Brown, S.J., Guide to Books on Ireland (Dublin: Talbot 1912), cites him as author of play, A Gentleman from Ireland NY 1854), set in London, with characters Gerald Fitzmaurice and Miss Clover. The same is called ‘his most notable play’ in James D. Hart, Oxford Companion to American Literature (OUP 1983).

Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978), cites contribs. to Nation, Dublin University Magazine, Irishman, and Cork Magazine [dates supplied; bibl. as supra.

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol 2 [biog. as in Life, supra].

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