Kate O'Brien Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

ph_0111207102-Obrien.jpg Kate O’Brien Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Kate O’Brien’s first success was a play, Distinguished Villa, which had a three-month run in London’s West End in 1926. She successfully dramatized her novel That Lady for a Broadway production (1949) in which Katherine Cornell played the title role. O’Brien was also the author of two travel books, Farewell, Spain (1937) and My Ireland (1962). Her English Diaries and Journals was published in 1943 and a biography, Teresa of Avila, in 1951. Her last major published work was a book of reminiscences, Presentation Parlour (1963).


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

While Kate O’Brien’s first novel, Without My Cloak, received two of the English literary establishment’s most prestigious awards, the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, her most notable achievement may best be assessed in the context of contemporary Irish literature. In this context, she remains—together with, though in a much more culturally significant manner than, her perhaps better-known contemporary Elizabeth Bowen—an exemplary representative not only of women’s writing but also, through her works and career, of women’s potential, broadly considered. Partial recognition of her achievement came in 1947 with her election to the Irish Academy of Letters.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Dalsimer, Adele. Kate O’Brien: A Critical Study. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1990. The first comprehensive study of Kate O’Brien’s entire literary output. The emphasis is on her works’ feminist dimension. Includes bibliography.

O’Brien, Kate. “The Art of Writing.” University Review 3 (1965): 6-14. Provides valuable insights into the author’s thoughts about writing.

Reynolds, Lorna. Kate O’Brien: A Literary Portrait. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble Books, 1987. This study is divided into two parts, the first dealing with the major fiction in chronological order and the second surveying O’Brien’s treatment of various major themes. Also contains a valuable treatment of O’Brien’s family background.

Walshe, Eibhear, ed. Ordinary People Dancing: Essays on Kate O’Brien. Cork, Ireland: Cork University Press, 1993. This selection of critical essays examines O’Brien’s heritage and feminism.