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Boston College collection of Frank O'Connor

Collection MS-2003-022: Boston College collection of Frank O'Connor


  • Creation: 1949-1978

Scope and Contents

Composed of correspondence, publications and manuscripts of Frank O'Connor. Also includes some articles about his work.


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

Frank O'Connor was born Michael Francis O'Donovan on September 17, 1903 in Cork city to Mary "Minnie" O'Donovan (née O'Connor) and Michael O'Donovan. Active on the Republican side in the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War, O'Connor was interned in Gormanston. After this experience, he turned against republicanism and political violence generally. Following his release from Gormanston, O'Connor worked as a librarian in Sligo, Cork, and Dublin until 1938. Beginning in the mid-1920s, O'Connor published numerous short stories and translations of poems from Irish, as well as dramatic works, memoirs, journalistic columns and features on aspects of Irish culture and history, criticism, novels, biography, and travel books. His work focused on Irish culture and language, with a particular eye to the relationship between modern Ireland and traditional Gaelic culture. In the 1930s, he became a member and later director of the board of the Abbey Theatre on the initiative of W.B. Yeats. During the early 1940s, he also served as poetry editor of and contributor to the literary, cultural, and political review The Bell, founded and edited by Sean O'Faolain. He spent much of the 1950s teaching in the United States.

O'Connor married Esther Evelyn Bowen Speaight, a divorced Welsh actress, in 1939, and they had two sons and one daughter. The two separated in 1949 and divorced in 1953. He also had one other son, born outside marriage to Joan Knape during this period of separation. O'Connor married Harriet Randolph Rich, in 1953, and they had one daughter together.

Frank O'Connor had a stroke while teaching at Stanford University in 1961, and he later died from a heart attack in Dublin on March 10, 1966.


Sherry, Ruth, "O'Connor, Frank," Dictionary of Irish Biography, 2009.

"Frank O'Connor," Wikipedia, December 13, 2023.


3 Linear Feet (3 containers)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, publications, and manuscripts by Irish author and translator Frank O'Connor.


Alphabetical by file title.


Because the current accessioning system was not used until January 1986, it is not possible to know exactly the dates of acquisition of materials received before that time. Some material purchased from Maurice F. Neville Rare Books.

Related Materials

Boston College collection of the Abbey Theatre, MS.1986.135, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Boston College collection of Yeats family papers, MS.1986.054, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

George William Russell papers, MS.1993.017, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Marion Doyle collection of W. B. Yeats, MS.1997.033, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Seán O'Faoláin collection, MS.1986.066, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Boston College Collection of Frank O'Connor
Elizabeth Peters
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