Edna O’Brien Archives Acquired by the National Library of Ireland

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* Edna O’Brien. Photography: Murdo MacLeod

An archive belonging to Edna O’Brien of Tuamgraney was acquired by the National Library of Ireland.

Literary and personal documents, notebooks, drafts and revisions as well as correspondence with well-known literary personalities are included in the archives which cover the period from 2009 to 2021. The documents will be added to a collection of his work dating back to 2000 to 2009 already owned by the NLI.

Born in East Clare in 1930, Edna’s first book “The Country Girls” was published in 1960. She has a long body of work to her credit, novels, plays, non-fiction works and a collection of news among them. Her most recent novel Girl was published in 2019, and she continues to write, currently working on a play about James Joyce.

Clare Echo Planning

Edna said she was “delighted and honored” to have the archives acquired. “I have always wanted my papers to reside in Ireland, my country of birth – my home. My works are stories of places as well as people, and Ireland has long been a central figure. It is only fair that my most recent archives find their lasting home there ”.

The Minister of Arts, Catherine Martin (GP) allocated the financing for the acquisition. She described the papers as a “most valuable collection”. She said: “Edna O’Brien’s place in the literary canon both nationally and internationally is assured and her importance as a novelist and columnist of Ireland is unique. That Edna O’Brien’s work is so widely regarded around the world testifies to the universal character of its themes and more particularly that of the lived experience of women.

“Edna O’Brien’s writings shine a light on women, their free will and their autonomy. She told stories of women without flinching, doing so when the stakes were high and it was inappropriate to talk about women’s lives so frankly and honestly, ”added Minister Martin.

Director of the National Library of Ireland, Dr Sandra Collins underlined the library’s responsibility as ‘Ireland’s memory keeper’ in collecting and safeguarding the history of the country. “Women’s experiences are an inextricable part of this narrative. The acquisition of the Edna O’Brien archives is a momentous opportunity for the National Library. It is a celebration of a writer who has contributed, indelibly and with brilliant style, to our understanding of Irish society and the lived experience of women. I hope that all who view and study this archive will gain an in-depth insight into Edna’s practice and feel inspired, not only by her work, but also by her pioneering and tenacious spirit, ”said Dr. Collins.


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