Eoin Colfer Biography

Start Your Free Trial

Download Eoin Colfer Study Guide

Subscribe Now


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Ireland inspired Eoin (sounds like Owen) Colfer to create supernatural characters with an edge. Born on May 14, 1965, on Ireland's southeast coast at Wexford, Colfer grew up in a family that encouraged his imagination. His parents, Billy and Noreen Colfer, were creative people with varied interests. At home, Eoin Colfer and his four brothers indulged in stimulating activities and adventures. The Colfers often went to Slade, the Irish fishing community on Hook Peninsula where Colfer's father grew up.

Colfer learned to love books at an early age, devouring Robert Ludlum's and Jack Higgins's thrillers. He studied at a local boys' school where his father taught. A daydreamer, Colfer created stories and drew pictures. He aspired to become a teacher like his parents and enrolled in a teacher's training degree program at a Dublin college.

Three years later, Colfer returned to Wexford prepared to teach primary students. His students enjoyed his storytelling sessions when he told about magical Irish characters. Every night after school, he wrote or participated in a drama organization. Colfer performed in many theatrical roles, serving as play director, writer, and star. He liked the immediacy of plays so that he could witness how audiences were reacting to his words.

He married a childhood friend, Jackie, in 1991. After Colfer was disappointed when publishers rejected a book he wrote, he and Jackie embarked on several years of exotic adventures, teaching in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Italy. Returning to Wexford, the couple's son, Finn, was born in 1997. Colfer taught learning-disabled and emotionally troubled students who helped Colfer become aware of teen humor and attitudes. He based Holly Short, his favorite Artemis Fowl character, on the girls he taught in Wexford because he learned about how they would respond to situations.

Comparing his imagination to a bubbling cauldron, Colfer said that his experiences provided him with information to mix together to create original ideas. Colfer's Tunisian experiences inspired him to write his first book in which his Irish protagonist adjusted to living in Tunisia because of sports he played with an orphaned native boy. Benny and Omar, a humorous story, became an Irish bestseller soon after it was published in 1998. That book was translated into at least seven European languages. Colfer's sequel, Benny and Babe, was released the next year and received a nomination as a Bisto Book of the Year.

Colfer's macabre The Wish List was issued in 2000 and received a Bisto Merit Award the next year. Colfer also wrote the O'Brien Flyers series books for younger readers featuring the character Ed Cooper. The Irish Library Service reports that those series books, Going Potty, Ed's Funny Feet, and Ed's Bed, are regularly checked out by patrons.

Colfer decided to write a fantasy based on Irish legends...

(The entire section is 701 words.)