Other Literary Forms
Lennox Robinson’s nondramatic writings are of interest only because of the insights they provide into his development as a nationalist and man of the theater. Central in this regard are two volumes of autobiography, Three Homes (1938) and Curtain Up (1942), and A Young Man from the South (1917), published as a novel but little more than a fictionalized autobiography. In the last of these, Willie Powell, the hero, is a Protestant Anglo-Irishman from southwest Cork, a physically weak fellow who has become a successful dramatist (writing plays that are like Robinson’s). As a result of a confrontation between nationalists and unionists, Powell reappraises his commitment to nationalist extremism and decides to seek more reasonable outlets for his patriotism. The book is a lucid portrait of the social, intellectual, and political milieu of Ireland in the decade leading up to the Easter Rebellion, but it is not much of a novel. From the same period and of interest for similar reasons is the 1918 collection of political sketches, Dark Days. These pieces give Robinson’s reactions to Ireland’s troubles and show how his growing nationalism was tempered by doubts about the extremist methods of the Sinn Féiners. The attitudes and problems that Robinson dramatized in The Big House in 1926 emerged for the first time in such earlier nondramatic works as A Young Man from the South and Dark Days.