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Robert G. Lowery papers and collection of Sean O'Casey

Collection MS-1996-025: Robert G. Lowery papers and collection of Sean O'Casey


  • Creation: 1887 - 1993

Scope and Contents note

These materials document Robert G. Lowery’s research on and collecting of materials related to the Irish playwright Sean O'Casey. Topics include Lowery's founding of the Sean O'Casey Review; his organization of several conferences and events in honor of O'Casey; his friendships with other O'Casey scholars; and his relationships with O'Casey’s family and friends. The collection includes articles, clippings, correspondence, fliers, notes, pamphlets, photographs, posters, programs, scrapbooks, and scripts. Notable correspondents include actors, public figures, and writers such as Lillian Gish, Edward Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, Walter Matthau, Arthur Miller, Laurence Olivier, and Lynn Redgrave. The collection includes a great deal of ephemera from productions of Sean O'Casey’s plays from the 1910s to the 1990s; reproductions of photographs of O'Casey’s early life; and photographs of many of the locations in Ireland important to his early years.


Language of Materials

Primarily in English, with some German and Russian.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research. Recordings have been digitally copied; all original media were retained, but may not be played due to format. Digital use copies can only be accessed in the Burns Library Reading Room.

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: Lowery

Robert G. Lowery was born on July 21, 1941 in Taylor County, Texas. In the 1970s he attended Hosftra University in New York, where he received Bachelor's and Master's degrees in European history. In 1974, while still attending Hofstra as an undergraduate, Lowery founded The Sean O'Casey Review, which ran for eight years, from 1974 to 1982. His other works include Sean O'Casey Centenary Essays (co-edited with David Krause, 1980); Essays on Sean O'Casey’s Autobiographies: Reflections Upon the Mirror (as editor, 1981); Sean O'Casey’s Autobiographies: An Annotated Index (1983); A Whirlwind in Dublin: The Plough and the Stars Riots (1984); “My Very Dear Sean,” George Jean Nathan’s Letters to Sean O'Casey (as co-editor with Patricia Angelin, 1985); and An O'Casey Annual 1-4 (as editor, 1982-1985). He has served as the editor of numerous publications including Ais Eiri: The Magazine of Irish-America, the ACIS Newsletter, and the Irish Literary Supplement.


Krause, David, and Robert G. Lowery, eds. Sean O'Casey Centenary Essays. Totowa NJ: Barnes & Noble Books, 1980.

Lowery, Robert G., ed. Essays on Sean O'Casey’s Autobiographies: Reflections Upon the Mirror. Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1981.

Lowery, Robert G., ed. A Whirlwind in Dublin: The Plough and the Stars Riots. Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1984.

Biographical note: O'Casey

Sean O'Casey was born John Casey on March 30, 1880 in Dublin, Ireland, to Michael and Susan (Archer) Casey, a lower-middle class Protestant family. His father died in 1886. As a child, O'Casey suffered from trachoma, which affected his sight and made it difficult for him to succeed scholastically. He worked periodically throughout his adolescence as a stock boy, a van driver, and railway laborer. During this time, he became interested in Irish working class culture, as well as socialism and labor causes. In 1906 he joined the Gaelic League and began learning the Irish language. He changed his name to Sean O'Cathasaigh and began writing, primarily poetry. A few years later he joined the Irish Transport and General Workers Union and its offshoot, the Irish Citizen Army. He took part in the Dublin lock-out strike in 1913; however, he resigned from these organizations in 1914 and criticized their roles in the Easter Rising of 1916.

O'Casey began writing plays around 1916. His first play to be performed was The Shadow of a Gunman, produced in 1923 by the Abbey Theatre. By this time he had assumed the final iteration of his name, Sean O'Casey. He found continued success (and controversy) with subsequent plays, Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars. In 1926, he met Eileen Carey, an actress who was performing in the West End production of The Plough and the Stars, and they married on September 23, 1927. Together they had three children, Breon, Niall, and Shivaun.

Due to an increasingly strained relationship with the Abbey Theatre, which refused to produce his play The Silver Tassie, O'Casey and his new family moved permanently to England in 1929. He continued to write, and during this time produced plays, including Within the Gates (1934), The Star Turns Red (1940), and Purple Dust (1943). He also gained a following across the Atlantic when Lillian Gish starred in a production of Within the Gates in New York City.

Towards the end of his life O'Casey contended with increasing blindness. His son, Niall, died from leukemia in 1956. O'Casey died of a heart attack on September 18, 1964, at the age of 84.


Cave, Richard Allen. "O'Casey, Sean (1880-1964), playwright and writer." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press (2004), accessed November 3, 2016,

Donoghue, Dennis. "The advantage he lacked was poverty." In The New York Times Book Review, July 3, 1988.

Moran, James. "Sean O'Casey." In Oxford Bibliographies in British and Irish Literature, accessed November 3, 2016, doi: 10.1093/obo/9780199846719-0101.


20.5 Linear Feet (23 containers)

1.5 Gigabytes (2 files with approximately 41 minutes of audio)


This collection includes clippings, correspondence, ephemera, manuscripts photographs, and scrapbooks related to Robert G. Lowery's research on and collecting of materials relating to the life and work of Irish playwright Sean O'Casey.

Arrangement note

The collection is arranged into six series: I. Correspondence; II. Ephemera and photographs; III. Research; IV. Scrapbooks; V. Sean O’Casey conferences; and VI. Works about O’Casey.

Series I. Correspondence has three subseries, A. About O'Casey; B. By O'Casey and C. Lowery, Robert G.

Series II. Ephemera and photographs has two subseries, A. Biographical and B. Literary. Subseries A has two sub-subseries, 1. People and 2. Places. Subseries B has two sub-subseries, 1. Events and commemorations and 2. O’Casey’s works.

Series V. Sean O’Casey conferences has two subseries, A. Centenary conference and B. Silver Tassie conference.

Series VI. Works about O’Casey has three subseries: A. Articles; B. Dramas, and C. The Sean O'Casey Review.

Series are arranged alphabetically.

Related Materials

Boston College collection of Sean O'Casey, MS.1996.025, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Separated Materials

Correspondence between Lowery and Samuel Beckett was transferred to the Samuel Beckett collection, MS.1991.001, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Published works associated with this collection have been transferred within the Burns Library and can be found in the Boston College Library catalog.

Robert G. Lowery Papers and Collection of Sean O'Casey
Annalisa Moretti
November 2016
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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