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Seán O'Faoláin collection

Collection MS-1986-066: Seán O'Faoláin collection


  • Creation: 1926-1969, undated

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence to and from Seán O'Faoláin, manuscript material for short stories written by O'Faoláin which appeared in published form as Tales and Stories (1966) and clippings about O'Faoláin's autobiography Vive Moi!. Correspondents of note include Brendan Connolly, Robert Fetridge, Edward Garnett, Julia O'Faoláin, J.F. Powers, George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats. Topics include both literary and personal matters. The collection also includes a typed and annotated essay about O'Faoláin's Rosebud by his daughter Julia O'Faoláin.


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

Seán O'Faoláin was born John Francis Whelan on February 22, 1900, in Cork. He attended the Presentation Brothers secondary school and later University College, Cork, where he received his B.A. in modern literature.

In 1917, after a visit to the Gaeltacht region, O'Faoláin Gaelicized his name and joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In the early 1920s he served as an "irregular", worked in a bomb shop, and was appointed director of publicity for the Dublin division. Disaffection with the republican cause ultimately resulted in his resignation from the IRA and his return to Cork.

He received an M.A. in English at the National University of Ireland, taught at a Christian Brothers school in Ennis for a year, obtained a second M.A. in Irish, and published his first short story, "Lilliput," in The Irish Statesman, which won him the Harkness Commonwealth Fellowship to study in the United States. From 1926-1929 he studied philology at Harvard University under George Lyman Kitteredge. He married Eileen Gould in 1927, and after Harvard they lived in London, where O'Faoláin taught at St. Mary's College while completing his first collection of stories, Midsummer Night Madness.

In 1933, O'Faoláin returned to Wicklow, Ireland with his family. He freelanced for The Spectator, The New Statesman, and wrote his first novel, A Nest of Simple Folk. He later established the literary magazine, The Bell, and he served as its editor and manager for six years. In retirement, O'Faoláin lived with Eileen in Dun Laoghaire. In 1989, he entered Alcare House, a nursing home in Dublin, where he died after a brief illness in 1991.


Lynch, M. Kelly. "Sean O'Faoláin." Dictionary of Irish Literature Revised and Expanded Edition M-Z. Ed. Robert Hogan. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996. 957-962.


.75 Linear Feet (2 containers )

Language of Materials



The collection contains correspondence to and from Seán O'Faoláin, manuscripts of stories which appeared in published form as Tales and Stories (1966) and clippings about O'Faoláin's autobiography Vive Moi!. The collection also includes a typed and annotated essay by Julia O'Faoláin.


The collection is organized into four series. I. Tales and Stories typescripts, II. Correspondence, III. Julia O'Faoláin's critique of Rosebud, and IV. Clippings about Vive Moi!.


Gifts of Francis Sweeney, SJ in 1986 and 2003 and Seán O'Faoláin in 1986, and purchases from David J. Jones in 1989 and 1990.

Related Materials

Seán Lucy collection, MS.1991.004, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Seán O'Faoláin Collection
1926-1969, undated
Thomas Kim, Fall 1995; Corban Rhodes, Spring 2004; Rachael Young
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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