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Short story master Frank O'Connor was the product of a poverty-stricken,
alcohol- and violence-addled home. The unfortunate young Corkman received
very little education, yet did manage to develop a lifelong fascination
with Irish literature, language, and nationalism.
After serving in the IRA during the Civil War, O'Connor was disappointed
by partition and grew disillusioned with the nationalist movement. Abandoning
his military allegiances, he took a job as a librarian in order to finance
his literary aspirations. His first work, Guests of the Nation, explored
his experiences with the nationalist cause and ultimate disenchantment with
When his productions of Ibsen's and Chekhov's plays in his native Cork,
along with his support for James Joyce, aroused
outcry, a frustrated O'Connor moved back to Dublin and into a position as
director of the Abbey Theatre. He continued to produce a prolific body of
short stories, though their provocative content and pointed commentary on
the oppressive social and sexual mores of the era caught the ire of Ireland's
powerful censors. Exasperated, he joined contemporary Sean O'Faolain in
a crusade against censorship.
Deeply disappointed with the stultifying, stagnant state of Ireland and
its unsympathetic attitude towards iconoclastic artists and freethinkers,
O'Connor eventually left for America, returning just six short years before
his death in 1966.