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William T. O'Malley - Francis Stuart collection

Collection MS-1996-010: William T. O'Malley - Francis Stuart collection


  • Creation: circa 1933-1995

Scope and Contents

This collection contains four letters, one of which was written by Francis Stuart; the other three are correspondence between others about Stuart. Also included are poems by Stuart, portraits, and a newspaper with an article about him.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

Henry Francis Montgomery Stuart, the son of a prosperous sheep rancher originally from County Antrim, Ireland, was born on April 29, 1902, in Townsville, Australia. Less than a year later, following the death of his father, he was brought to Meath, Ireland, where he lived with relatives. Stuart was educated at various preparatory schools in England; the last was Rugby, which he left in 1918 without graduating. In 1920, at age eighteen, he married Iseult Gonne, daughter of Irish nationalist Maud Gonne. During the Irish civil war, Stuart fought with the Republicans along side de Valera. In August 1922 he was captured by Free State troops and held in Maryborough Prison and later in the Curragh compound until his release in November 1923.

Stuart published his first book, a privately printed collection of poems called We Have Kept the Faith, the following year. He did not publish very much poetry after this, but instead concentrated on writing fiction. His first novel,Women and God (1931) was a critical failure, but his next two books,Pigeon Irish (1932) and The Coloured Dome(1932), were well received. He was encouraged in his early years as a writer by W.B. Yeats. His novels all followed similar themes of protagonists who live sheltered, safe lives but were distraught by pain and suffering, leaving them outcast and yet somehow more aware of themselves. From 1933 through 1940, he published eight more novels and had two plays produced at the Abbey theater.

In 1940, troubled by a declining career as well as by lingering financial and marital problems, Stuart accepted a position as lecturer in English and Irish at the University of Berlin, where he stayed, except for some months in Luxembourg, for the duration of World War II. In November 1945, after the war in Europe ended, he was arrested by French occupation forces and imprisoned first in Bregenz and later in Freiburg until July 1946. Though no formal charges were brought against him, he was detained presumably because of a series of weekly radio broadcasts he had made to Ireland from 1942 to 1944, in which he took a pro-Nazi perspective on world events. After his release, he lived in Freiburg until 1949 when he moved to Paris. In 1951 he went to London, where he lived for seven years. In 1954, following the death of his wife, who had remained in Ireland, he married Gertrud Meissner, whom he had met at the University of Berlin. He returned to Ireland in 1958 and lived near Dunshaughlin in County Meath before moving to the Windy Arbour section of Dublin in 1971.

Stuart's first two postwar novels, The Pillar of Cloud (1948) and Redemption (1949) deal with a lot of the same issues that he went through during the war. They marked a new era of his work in which he could speak first hand of the pain and suffering that he had hitherto written about. From 1950 to 1959, Stuart published six more novels. Then in 1971, after twelve unpublished years, he produced Black List, Section H, a closely autobiographical novel that received much acclaim.

In 1981, Stuart was inducted into Aosdána, his first significant public recognition in Ireland since he had been invited to join Yeats's Irish Academy of Letters in 1932. Aosdána was a body of about 150 elite artists in Ireland, whose endeavors were supported by government funds. He was eventually given the position of Saoi, the highest honor which the arts body can bestow on an artist. The poet Maire Mac an tSaoi tried to have him thrown out of Aosdana because of his alleged collusion with the Nazis. Francis Stuart died on Feb. 2, 2000 at his home in County Clare.


Inventing Ireland: The Literature of a Modern Nation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).

The Dictionary of Irish Literature edited by Robert Hogan (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996): pp.535-539.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



Collection of materials relating to Irish poet and novelist Francis Stuart including correspondence, manuscripts, portraits, and newspaper articles.


Organized into four series: I: Correspondence; II: Manuscripts; III: Portraits; and IV: Newspaper articles.

William T. O'Malley - Francis Stuart Collection
circa 1933-1995
Corban Rhodes
Summer 2001
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States