Frank O'Connor Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207203-Oconnor_Fr.jpgFrank O’Connor Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Michael Francis O’Donovan, who later took the name Frank O’Connor, was born in 1903, the only child of a poor laborer and a cleaning woman. Some knowledge of O’Connor’s childhood is important for an understanding of his fiction, for he later wrote several of his most memorable stories about his ambiguous relationship with his alcoholic father and his orphaned mother. O’Connor was a sickly and frail misfit among the other boys in the slums, rejected as a sissy and a snob, a child who lived primarily in his fantasy world. He entered St. Patrick’s National School in Cork in 1914, where he met patriot teacher and writer Daniel Corkery, whom both he and his friend Sean O’Faoláin viewed as a literary and political mentor. O’Connor left school in 1917 and joined the Irish Republican Army. He was captured and interned as a rebel in 1923; upon his release, he worked as a librarian for a few years. At this time O’Connor began his life as a writer, took his new name, began to write reviews and poems for the Irish Statesman, and attempted to revive drama in Cork.{$S[A]O’Donovan, Michael Francis[ODonovan, Michael Francis];O’Connor, Frank}

This life began to quicken considerably when he left Cork for Dublin to become a librarian there in 1928. During the next ten years, O’Connor worked with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, published his first novel and his first collection of poems, and produced four plays. At the age of thirty-four, he...

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Frank O'Connor Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Educated at the Christian Brothers College, Cork, Frank O’Connor (Michael Francis O’Donovan) joined the Irish Volunteers and participated on the Republican side in the Irish Civil War (1922-1923), for which activity he was imprisoned. He supported himself as a librarian, first in Cork, and later in Dublin, where he met George (Æ) Russell and William Butler Yeats, and began his literary career on Æ’s Irish Statesman. He was until 1939 a member of the Board of Directors of the Abbey Theatre. From 1940 he coedited The Bell, a literary journal, with Seán O’Faoláin. In addition to his editorial work, O’Connor was writing the stories that ensured his fame. From Guests of the Nation on, O’Connor wrote a number of superb collections of short stories. In recognition of this feat, O’Connor was invited to teach at a number of prestigious American universities. In 1939 he married Evelyn Bowen, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. During part of World War II he lived in London, working for the Ministry of Information. In 1951 he took up a creative writing position at Harvard, was divorced in 1952, and remarried in 1953 (Harriet Randolph Rich, with whom he had one daughter). He returned to Ireland permanently in 1961. He received a Litt.D. from Dublin University in 1962, where for a time he held a Special Lectureship. He died in Dublin on March 10, 1966.

Frank O'Connor Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Frank OConnor Published by Gale Cengage

Frank O’Connor was born in Cork, Ireland, on September 17, 1903, as Michael O’Donovan, the only son of Michael and Minnie O’Donovan. His father was a laborer whose alcoholism wreaked emotional and financial havoc on his family. As a result, O’Connor formed a strong relationship with his mother, who encouraged him to read and protected him from his father’s drunken rage. O’Connor’s deep love for his mother and his jealousy of the love and understanding she showed his father became the subject of many of his stories. Due to the poverty in which his family lived, O’Connor’s formal education ended early; he was taken out of school at the age of fourteen to assist in supporting the family. He continued his studies on his own, focusing on literature, politics, and Gaelic language and culture. The influence of Daniel Corkery, an Irish author, nationalist, and former teacher of O’Connor’s, was crucial in shaping his political sympathies. In 1918 under Corkery’s guidance, O’Connor joined the Irish Republican Army, fighting the British occupation of Ireland. Although a treaty ending the war was signed in 1921, O’Connor and the Republicans continued fighting to include the province of Ulster in the new Irish Free State. O’Connor was subsequently arrested and imprisoned for nearly a year by the Free State government for his part in the struggles. It was during this time that he formed the ideas that found life in many of his short stories.

During the 1930s, O’Connor became involved in the Irish Literary Renaissance that was striving to produce a distinctly Irish literature. The writers of this nationalistic movement endeavored to revive in their fellow citizens an awareness of Ireland’s rich history and colorful mythology. During this time, O’Connor began contributing stories to the Irish Statesman, a magazine that served as the focal point of literature in Ireland. Many of these early stories were collected in Guests of the Nation, which focuses on O’Connor’s experiences in the Anglo-Irish War and the Irish Civil War. The Statesman was edited by George Russell, also known by the pseudonym AE, who was one of O’Connor’s strongest advocates and best friends. Russell introduced O’Connor to many leading figures of the Irish literary society and Abbey Theatre Company in Dublin, including William Butler Yeats Sean O’Casey, and Lady Gregory. O’Connor served, along with Yeats, as director of the Abbey Theater from 1935 to 1939, when he left because of a dispute over censorship. During the 1940s, a number of O’Connor’s books were officially banned by the Irish government. He left Ireland in 1951 to lecture and teach at several American universities, including Harvard and Stanford. He frequently returned to his homeland until his death in Dublin in 1966.