O'Brien, Edna 1932(?)–
O'Brien, Edna 1932(?)–
Born December 15, 1932 (year of birth has also been variously listed as 1930, 1931, and 1936), in Tuamgraney, County Clare, Ireland; daughter of Michael and Lena O'Brien; married Ernest Gébler (an author), 1952 (divorced, 1964); children: Sasha, Carlos (sons). Education: Attended Pharmaceutical College of Ireland. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, remembering.
Home—London, England. Agent—The Wylie Agency Ltd, 17 Bedford Sq., London, England WC1B 3JA.
American Academy of Arts and Letters (honorary).
Kingsley Amis Award, 1962; Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award, 1970, for A Pagan Place; Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 1990, for Lantern Slides; Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction, 1992, for Time and Tide.
The Country Girls (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1960.
The Lonely Girl (also see below), Random House (New York, NY), 1962, published as The Girl with Green Eyes, Penguin (London, England), 1964.
Girls in Their Married Bliss (also see below), J. Cape (London, England), 1964, Plume (New York, NY), 2003.
August Is a Wicked Month (also see below), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1965.
Casualties of Peace (also see below), J. Cape (London, England), 1966.
A Pagan Place (also see below), Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1970, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.
Zee and Company (also see below), Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1971.
Night, Knopf (New York, NY), 1972, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.
Johnny I Hardly Knew You (also see below), Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1977, published as I Hardly Knew You, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1978.
Seven Novels and Other Short Stories, Collins (London, England), 1978.
The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue (contains The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, and Girls in Their Married Bliss), Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1986, published as The Country Girls Trilogy: Second Epilogue, Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.
The High Road, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1988.
Time and Tide, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1992.
House of Splendid Isolation, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1994.
An Edna O'Brien Reader (contains August Is a Wicked Month, Casualties of Peace, and Johnny I Hardly Knew You), Warner Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Down by the River, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1996, Farrar (New York, NY), 1997.
Wild Decembers, [London, England], 1999, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.
In the Forest, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.
The Light of Evening, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.
The Love Object, J. Cape (London, England), 1968.
A Scandalous Woman, and Other Stories, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1974.
Mrs. Reinhardt, and Other Stories, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1978, published as A Rose in the Heart, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.
Returning, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1982.
Stories of Joan of Arc, 1984.
A Fanatic Heart: Selected Stories of Edna O'Brien, foreword by Philip Roth, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1984, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2008.
Lantern Slides: Stories, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1990.
Returning: Tales, Phoenix (London, England), 1998.
The Dazzle, illustrated by Peter Stevenson, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1981.
A Christmas Treat (sequel to The Dazzle), illustrated by Peter Stevenson, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1982.
The Expedition, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1982.
The Rescue, illustrated by Peter Stevenson, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1983.
Tales for the Telling: Irish Folk and Fairy Stories, illustrated by Michael Foreman, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1986.
A Cheap Bunch of Nice Flowers (produced in London, England, 1962), Ungar (New York, NY), 1963.
(With others) Oh! Calcutta! (produced in New York, 1969), Grove (New York, NY), 1969.
A Pagan Place (produced in the West End, 1972), Knopf (New York, NY), 1970.
The Gathering, produced in Dublin, Ireland, 1974, produced in New York at Manhattan Theatre Club, 1977.
The Ladies, produced in London, 1975.
Virginia (produced in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, 1980, produced in London and New York, 1985), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1981, revised edition, 1985.
Flesh and Blood, produced in Bath, England, 1985, produced in New York, 1986.
Madame Bovary (based on the novel by Gustave Flaubert), produced at the Palace, Watford, England, 1987.
Our Father, produced in London, 1999.
(Adapter) Euripides, Iphigenia, Methuen (London, England), 2003.
Triptych and Iphigenia, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Triptych, produced at the Irish Repertory Theater, New York, 2004.
The Girl with Green Eyes (based on O'Brien's novel The Lonely Girl), Lopert, 1964.
(With Desmond Davis) I Was Happy Here, 1965, revised, 1979.
Three into Two Won't Go, Universal, 1969.
X Y and Zee (based on O'Brien's novel Zee and Company), Columbia, 1972.
Also (with others) The Tempter, 1975; A Woman at the Seaside, 1979; The Wicked Lady, 1979; and The Country Girls, 1984.
The Wedding Dress, 1963.
The Keys to the Café, 1965.
Give My Love to the Pilchards, 1965.
Which of These Two Ladies Is He Married To?, 1967.
Nothing's Ever Over, 1968.
Mrs. Reinhardt, from Her Own Story, 1981.
Mother Ireland, photographs by Fergus Bourke, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1976, Plume (New York, NY), 1999.
Arabian Days, photographs by Gerard Klijn, Horizon Press (New York, NY), 1977.
The Collected Edna O'Brien (miscellany), Collins (London, England), 1978.
(Editor) Some Irish Loving: A Selection, Harper (New York, NY), 1979.
James and Nora: A Portrait of Joyce's Marriage, Lord John Press (Northridge, CA), 1981.
Vanishing Ireland, photographs by Richard Fitzgerald, J. Cape (London, England), 1986, Potter (New York, NY), 1987.
On the Bone (poetry), Greville Press, 1989.
James Joyce (biography; "Penguin Lives" series), Viking (New York, NY), 1999.
Also contributor to magazines, including New Yorker, Ladies' Home Journal, and Cosmopolitan, and to various English journals.
Works adapted for audio include Wild Decembers (four cassettes), read by Suzanne Bertish, Houghton Mifflin.
Irish author Edna O'Brien is "renowned for her anguished female characters, lonely Catholic girls in search of adventure, or single, older women in wretched affairs with married men," wrote Richard B. Woodward in New York Times. "A poet of heartbreak, she writes most tellingly about the hopeless, angry passion that courts self-ruin." Her women are loving, but frustrated, betrayed, lonely, and struggling to escape the role society has assigned them, while her male characters are cruel, cold, drunken, and irresponsible. The divorced mother of two, O'Brien knows about struggle, heartbreak, and pain firsthand. She has used her personal experiences, especially her childhood in Ireland, as sources for many of her works, drawing on her memories to evoke the emotions of her readers. An author of novels, short stories, plays, biographies, and children's books, she is a prolific writer, often considered controversial, who appeals to many audiences.
O'Brien was born in Tuamgraney, County Clare, a small, rural, devoutly Catholic village of about 200 people in the west of Ireland. Raised on a farm, she grew up in an area where everyone knew everyone else's secrets, business, and problems. She claims this has helped her in her writing, telling Amanda Smith in Publishers Weekly: "I had sort of a limitless access to everyone's life story. For a writer, it's a marvelous chance." Educated first at the local national school and then in a convent, she escaped rural life by attending Pharmaceutical College in Dublin. In 1952, she eloped with Czech-Irish author Ernest Gébler. They moved first to County Wicklow, and then to London, where O'Brien has remained. They divorced after twelve years of marriage, and she raised their two sons alone.
Books were scarce in O'Brien's childhood, and it wasn't until she was in Dublin that she began to take an interest in them. Introducing James Joyce by T.S. Eliot was among her first purchases.
Conflict and writing seemed to go hand in hand for O'Brien throughout her career. The birth of her first published novel, The Country Girls, heralded the death of her marriage. Written at the age of twenty-six and published in 1960, The Country Girls broke new ground in Irish literature, giving a frank speaking voice to women characters. The subject matter and especially the daringly graphic sexual scenes caused this book, and the six that followed, to be banned in Ireland. The first novel in what became a trilogy, The Lonely Girl and Girls in Their Married Bliss completed the set. The three novels were collected in The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue, published in 1986.
The stories revolve around two young women, the "country girls" Kate and Baba, who search for love and sex in a series of tragicomic adventures after being expelled from their convent school. Kate Brady, the daughter of a drunken father, was raised in poverty. She is the shy, naive but pretty woman who begins her adventure by having an affair with an older, married man. Baba Brennan, the daughter of the village veterinarian, is the tough, sassy character willing to live as freely as a man. Through affairs, marriages, more affairs, children, and psychotherapy, Baba and Kate remain friends.
"Miss O'Brien's outlook is intemperate, like Irish weather. She's fond of blarney, but a bleak, literary kind, more in the mood of the later Yeats than of Celtic charm," commented Anatole Broyard, writing in the New York Times Book Review. "She has no patience with the ordinary, the soothing monotony of innocent small events." Feelings of loss, conflict, and disappointment in love pervade each novel of The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue as the girls try to reach their dreams. Village Voice contributor Terrence Rafferty observed that "the psychological insights are sharp, the descriptions graceful and resonant" in The Country GirlsTrilogy and Epilogue. At the conclusion of the trilogy, both women are disillusioned, neither one having reached her dreams or found love or happiness. What began in The Country Girls ends far from "married bliss."
O'Brien added the epilogue when the stories were released in one volume. Rafferty explained that it "brings the story full circle, back to earth, in a tragedy that would be unbearable were it not for the exuberance of the writing, the hope engendered by language that goes on and on." The epilogue is presented as Baba's soliloquy, a retrospective view of both women's lives. Mourning the deceased Kate, raging against the men who took advantage or abused them in some way, blaming men for Kate's death, and remembering the happier times, Baba concludes the trilogy with emotional force.
Many of O'Brien's short stories have also been assembled and published as collections, including A Fanatic Heart: Selected Stories of Edna O'Brien. Covering two decades of her career, the twenty-nine stories in this collection explore the themes of childhood, love, and loss, all from a woman's perspective. "Most of the stories in A Fanatic Heart are set down in languorous, elegiac prose," commented Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times, adding that "they're enlivened by Miss O'Brien's earthy humor and her sense of place." She writes of relationships, exile, and betrayal, drawing the reader in by seeming to reveal herself. Tales such as "My Mother's Mother," describing the "ghastly" death of her grandfather one night while saying the Rosary, evoke O'Brien's native Ireland. Others explore the temptations of the flesh in strictly-reared young women, as in "The Connor Girls," or contrast girls with carousing drunks, as in "Irish Revel." Still others concern affairs, mental breakdown, and entrapment in bad marriages.
O'Brien presents another side of Ireland in Tales for the Telling: Irish Folk and Fairy Stories, a book for children published in 1986. Twelve stories reveal a land of fairy folk, giants, castles, princes and princesses, magic, and heroes. A fierce wolf and a young boy dance to the magic tune of fife music in one tale, and another tells of a giant who betters an opponent with help from his cunning wife. O'Brien writes her stories in standard English, using the characters' conversations to express their Irish descent. Another critic, Times Literary Supplement contributor Patricia Craig, remarked that O'Brien's stories correspond rather closely to those published in Donegal Fairy Stories written by Seumas MacManus, but commented that O'Brien's tales "are notable for their decorativeness and sturdy vocabulary." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the "color-rich, vigorous paintings" by Michael Foreman complement "a collection for the entire family [that] fires the imagination."
O'Brien examines more than Ireland in her various writings. In two stage plays she focuses on Virginia Woolf and Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary. "O'Brien … knows how to create climax, epiphany and incandescence by compression," observed Jack Kroll in Newsweek, discussing the play Virginia. The story of Woolf, one of the Bloomsbury group and a prominent literary figure, the play encompasses her life from her birth in 1882 to her suicide in 1942.
Madame Bovary is similar to Virginia, particularly in its use of time and narration. O'Brien claims the title character as her own creation rather than an adaptation of Flaubert's novel. The story of love, marriage, boredom, adultery, and death by suicide, O'Brien's work, however, closely follows Flaubert's piece. The drama takes place in Emma Bovary's mind, even juggling the events as if they were really memories happening in her head, giving the audience clear access to her thoughts and emotions.
While continuing to publish books for children, short stories, and plays, O'Brien waited ten years after Johnny I Hardly Knew You before publishing another novel. The long-awaited volume, The High Road, concerns Anna, a middle-aged, successful Irish writer recovering from the breakup of an affair. She escapes to an unidentified Spanish island, hoping to take time to write in her diary and repair her broken heart. However, she becomes involved with the other inhabitants, eventually having an affair with another woman. The story ends in tragedy, with the death of Anna's lover. Publishers Weekly contributor Sybil Steinberg called The High Road "a disappointing narrative."
O'Brien returns to the short story with Lantern Slides: Stories. "Though she covers little new ground here, she also digs deeper into the old ground than ever before, unearthing a rich archeology," commented David Leavitt in the New York Times Book Review. The stories focus on women and their relationships—with lovers, fathers, husbands, and children. Insanity, jealousy, and fear are only some of the emotions O'Brien calls into play in her tales. In "Brother," an incestuous relationship causes one woman to plot the death of her new sister-in-law. Another story explores the feelings between a mother and her son during a Mediterranean vacation in the company of his girlfriend. The title story, "Lantern Slides," was highly praised by many critics, Leavitt labeling it the "collection's masterpiece." Describing a birthday party held for a woman whose husband has deserted her, the tale reveals the guests individually, discussing their problems as it moves along.
Regarding the whole collection, Times Literary Supplement contributor Louise Doughty praised Lantern Slides, writing that "the same precision with which she portrays landscape is applied to human emotions; there isn't a single character in these stories who is unconvincing. O'Brien continues to display acute powers of observation in a prose that is always neat and often immaculate."
Time and Tide features a hard-luck protagonist who faces one disaster after another. First, Nell endures physical abuse at the hands of her husband; when she summons the courage to leave him, she has to battle for custody of their two sons. Although free of her husband, Nell continues to experience tragedy: the death of a son, drug addiction, a nervous breakdown, and failed romances. "O'Brien transforms what could have been a depressing or, at best, maudlin tale into a revelation," commented Gale Harris in Belles Lettres. Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, however, Patricia Craig averred that "throughout the bulk of O'Brien's narrative, clarity gets lost in a fuzz of emotions." Still, Craig noted that "parts of Time and Tide are wonderfully clear-toned and powerfully imagined."
O'Brien's next novel, House of Splendid Isolation, departs somewhat from the author's usual terrain. The story of an IRA terrorist who takes an elderly woman hostage, the novel directly engages the contemporary political struggles in Northern Ireland. While McGeevy, the terrorist, is the character that sets the plot in motion, it is his elderly captive, Josie O'Meara, whose remembered passions and setbacks make up the heart of the story. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, John L'Heureux maintained that the novel's two distinct components are not successfully fused. "Uncomfortable with her story of the terrorist and the lady, Ms. O'Brien seeks refuge in easy symbolism, and her art is swallowed up in rhetoric." Still, noted L'Heureux, O'Brien excels in portraying Josie's world: "The author is comfortable here. She understands the blindness and desperation of these characters and she gets inside them with devastating effects."
O'Brien's confessional tone and use of the first person in many of her novels has led to speculation concerning the distance between her life and her fiction. In the Dictionary of Literary Biography, a contributor quoted an interview between Ludovic Kennedy and O'Brien, wherein the author said her life and her work are "quite close, but they're not as close as they seem." The quote continued: "I think writing, especially semi-autobiographical writing, is the life you might have liked to have had." In an interview with Woodward, O'Brien concluded: "All I know is that I want to write about something that has no fashion and that does not pander to any period or to a journalistic point of view. I want to write about something that would apply to any time because it's a state of the soul."
O'Brien's novel Down by the River is based on the actual case of an Irish girl who became pregnant by a friend of her father, and the theme of the book is the abortion issue in Ireland. In the novel, the girl, Mary, becomes pregnant as a result of her father's sexual abuse. The story begins with the father assaulting her for the first time, an act he repeats with more frequency and violence after Mary's mother dies. After returning from London with a neighbor who helps her with the termination of her pregnancy, Mary and the friend are arrested. Her life is torn apart by politicians and anti-abortion advocates who don't know that Mary's father was responsible for the pregnancy. Jose Lanters wrote in World Literature Today that Down by the River makes the point "about the involvement of church and state in what are often very painful and tragic personal circumstances."
New York Times Book Review contributor Brooke Allen called Wild Decembers a "beautiful and lush novel." Joseph Brennan and his younger sister, Breege, live in a remote area of western Ireland. Joseph's mother had begged him to stay when he made one attempt at leaving, and now he and his sister live alone in Cloontha, immersed in their ancient culture and farming practices. Mick Buglar arrives from Australia to claim his inheritance, the neighboring farm. The two families have had a generational feud over grazing rights and boundaries, but the two men become friends, with Joseph teaching Mick the old ways, and Mick introducing him to modern practices, like the first tractor to be used on their mountain. Their differences surface when disputes over property rights develop, and the friendship suffers. Joseph is also upset by the relationship that is developing between Breege and Mick. Mick's fiancée, Rosemary, is waiting for him to build their home, after which she will travel from Australia, but Mick realizes she will never adapt to the desolate land. "O'Brien's evocative prose shows the chilling hold that history and the dead clamp on the living," wrote Paul Gray in Time.
Allen wrote that "O'Brien's prose is her own and firmly under control, an apt instrument for the precise, poetic recollection of a distant world. With the instincts of an orchestra conductor, she builds from muted subtleties to crescendos of linguistic color." Allen continued that "O'Brien is a past master at mixing up such lyrical flights with tonic doses of sexual humor. In Wild Decembers this takes the shape of two lascivious sisters, Reena and Riat, who have feathered their nest with hush money from the local men they ensnare. Reena and Rita are a little too out there, too bawdily O'Brienesque, to ring quite true in this essentially somber tale—yet who can confidently accuse any novelist of exaggeration when the truth is so often supremely bizarre?"
"O'Brien allows the inevitable tragedy to play itself out, evincing the pity and terror of classical drama," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. Molly Winans wrote in Commonweal that "O'Brien's eye is most often trained on turbulent sorrow, and her gaze is fearless. Each character is torn so many ways." Winans continued: "Breege and Bugler's love for each other is itself a question without an answer. Happiness rarely enters in, and then only tinged by dread—Bugler, already engaged to a beautiful woman, has no reason to court trouble with the immensely shy sister of a man who hates him—and still, the very existence of Breege and Bugler's love gives us hope." The reviewer added: "The hope it introduces is thrilling and clean." Booklist contributor Grace Fill called O'Brien's writing "dark, but not without humor, and rich in dramatic imagery of the Irish countryside, as she probes the inner landscape of the human heart."
World of Hibernia contributor John McCourt wrote that in James Joyce, O'Brien "puts her critical heritage, her vast experience as a novelist and short-story writer, and her dazzling linguistic skills to excellent use in this biography, which will be remembered for its panache, verve, readability, and its humane understanding of Joyce and of the Irish world that formed him." Booklist contributor Mary Carroll noted that O'Brien "also provides thoughtful appreciations of Joyce's major works." Contemporary Review contributor John McGurk commented that O'Brien reveals "Joyce's love/hate relationship with Dublin and Ireland, with the ‘Rock of Rome,’ the English Crown, the legal profession: and between home and exile, then his other innermost conflicts between lust and love; order and chaos, family restrictions and the free-booting spirit at odds with the tenacity with which he pursued his life as a writer."
New York Times Book Review contributor Robert Sullivan called James Joyce "a hardheaded hagiography in which [O'Brien] spends a lot of time knocking Joyce around, especially the early Joyce, the Joyce who would run into you at the pub, go on about his imminent greatness, pity you, and then hit you up for a couple of quid on his way out." "After she's roughed Joyce up," wrote Sullivan, "she raises his hand in the air and proclaims him a genius." Sullivan added: "Not since Anthony Burgess has anyone so gorgeously sung such praise for a man whose work, let's face it, can seem incomprehensible to the noninfatuated." Sullivan continued: "The chapters on Ulysses and then Finnegan's Wake are explanatory marvelings at the respective books' literary merits but also at Joyce's obsession with his craft, in the face of every conceivable obstacle." Sullivan went on to note that "O'Brien's triumph is that while celebrating Joyce and his ecstatic quest to lay image on counterimage … she has drawn the desperation and sadness of the man whose name means joy."
In her 2002 novel, In the Forest, the author tells a fictionalized version of the real life murder of a County Clare priest, mother, and her young children. The itinerant who committed the murders said he was following the instructions of the devil. In O'Brien's novel, the murderer is Michen O'Kane, who begins going to the forest at an early age as a refuge from his violent father. When his mother dies, O'Kane feels abandoned and alone and, as a ten-year-old, steals a gun which he calls Rod and cuddles for safety. O'Kane's life goes from bad to worse as he is sent to institutions and suffers abuse. Eventually O'Kane abducts Father John, an attractive woman named Eily, and her child. The readers follow the story as the Father John and Eily try to reach O'Kane's sanity only to fail as O'Kane succumbs to his madness. A contributor to the Economist noted that the author "will not let us see these people as symbolic victims," adding: "We are offered details of their lives that remind us constantly of their humanity." Commenting on the novel in an interview with Robert McCrum for the Observer of Manchester, England, O'Brien noted: "Ostensibly it's about a triple murder in a forest, but I believe that the novelist is the psychic and moral historian of his or her society. So it's about that part of Ireland I happen to know very well. It's about that part of Ireland, and the darkness that still prevails."
Once again, O'Brien received high praise for her novel and writing abilities. Nola Theiss, writing in Kliatt, commented that the author "captures the essence of the Irish countryside and people in a way reminiscent of James Joyce." Library Journal contributor Starr E. Smith noted that O'Brien's "skillful narration keeps the pace at page-turning level as the frightening events proceed to their inevitable … conclusion."
O'Brien's next book, The Light of Evening, was called "a novel of powerful, complicated emotions and rapturous writing" by a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Once again, the author draws from real life, this time the life of her mother and her own life. The novel tells the story of an Irish woman named Dilly as she lays in her hospital awaiting the arrival of her famous daughter, who is a controversial writer. "In The Light of Evening [O'Brien] has taken the letters her late mother wrote to her over the course of her life and spliced them almost verbatim into a fictional story," noted John Freeman in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The novel follows Dilly as she recalls her life, from going to New York to be a maid to her return to Ireland and complicated relationship with her daughter. Eleanora, the daughter, must also come to terms with her own role in the strained relationship she has had with her mother due to Eleanora's myopic dedication to her writing. "It is no easy task to write a novel about the bravery and nobility of novel-writing," wrote Tom Deignan in America. "O'Brien, however, is able to pull this off." Brad Hooper, writing in Booklist, noted the author's "deft, poised, and compassionate fashioning of her chief character."
O'Brien has also continued to write plays, including Triptych, which was produced at the Irish Repertory Theater in New York in 2004. The play revolves around a successful playwright and three women in his life: his wife, daughter, and mistress. "In depicting these women, with their intricate connections, the towering figure of the man takes shape," noted Irene Backalenick writing in Back Stage. "Here is the man you love to hate … brilliant, seductive, demanding, self-centered." Variety contributor Dennis Harvey noted that the play "has streaks of brash humor."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, Volume 8: Contemporary Writers, 1960-Present, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 3, 1975, Volume 5, 1976, Volume 8, 1978, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 36, 1986, Volume 65, 1991.
Contemporary Novelists, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 14: British Novelists since 1960, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983.
Eckley, Grace, Edna O'Brien, Bucknell University Press (Lewisburg, PA), 1974.
Feminist Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Staley, Thomas F., editor, Twentieth-Century Woman Novelists, Barnes & Noble (Totowa, NJ), 1982.
America, April 15, 1995, Ron Hansen, review of House of Splendid Isolation, p. 35; October 4, 1997, Thomas H. Jackson, review of Down by the River, p. 35; April 21, 2003, "Paradise Lost," p. 25.
Atlantic Monthly, May, 2000, review of Wild Decembers, p. 128; March, 2002, review of In the Forest, p. 124.
Back Stage, October 29, 2004, Irene Backalenick, review of Triptych, p. 56.
Belles Lettres, fall, 1992, Gale Harris, review of Time and Tide, p. 2.
Booklist, April 1, 1994, Brad Hooper, review of House of Splendid Isolation, p. 1405; March 1, 1997, Brad Hooper, review of Down by the River, p. 1069; October 1, 1999, Mary Carroll, review of James Joyce, p. 338; February 1, 2000, Grace Fill, review of Wild Decembers, p. 996; January 1, 2002, Brad Hooper, review of In the Forest, p. 776; January 1, 2003, review of In the Forest, p. 793; August 1, 2006, Brad Hooper, review of The Light of Evening, p. 8.
Charlotte Observer, March 27, 2002, review of In the Forest.
Commonweal, October 23, 1992, Robert E. Hosmer, review of Time and Tide, p. 25; May 5, 2000, Molly Winans, "A Dark Tale, Told in Singing Prose," p. 19.
Contemporary Review, July, 2000, John McGurk, "Edna O'Brien on James Joyce," p. 56.
Economist, May 18, 2002, "Dark Heart; New Fiction."
Entertainment Weekly, July 15, 1994, Daneet Steffens, review of House of Splendid Isolation, p. 58; April 14, 2000, "The Week," p. 68.
Financial Times, May 10, 2003, "Claws Celebres Edna O'Brien Re-Reads the Leopard, a Great Novel of the 20th Century Whose Traducers Now Seem Only Foolish," p. 35.
First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, April, 2000, "James Joyce," p. 73.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 22, 2002, review of In the Forest.
Houston Chronicle, January 23, 2000, "An Irish Genius on an Irish Legend," p. 19; September 2, 2001, "Series to Host 11 Top Writers," p. 11; April 21, 2002, "An Irish Bogeyman; Novelist Edna O'Brien Breathes New Life into Old Murders," p. 18.
Investor's Business Daily, January 2, 2001, "Writer James Joyce His Innovations Helped Him Revolutionize 20th-Century Fiction," p. 4.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2002, review of In the Forest, p. 133; July 15, 2006, review of The Light of Evening, p. 695.
Kliatt, July, 2003, Nola Theiss, review of In the Forest, p. 25.
Library Journal, April 1, 1997, Starr E. Smith, review of Down by the River, p. 130; October 1, 1999, Shelley Cox, review of James Joyce ("Penguin Lives" series), p. 92; April 1, 2002, Starr E. Smith, review of In the Forest, p. 141; August 1, 2006, Laurie Sullivan, review of The Light of Evening, p. 72.
Miami Herald, March 15, 2002, review of In the Forest.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 29, 1006, John Freeman, "Talking with Edna O'Brien."
Nation, July 13, 1992, Marianne Wiggins, review of Time and Tide, p. 60.
National Catholic Reporter, May 23, 1997, Michael Lee, review of Down by the River, p. 28.
New Statesman, August 30, 1996, Carole Angier, review of Down by the River, p. 46.
New Statesman & Society, April 15, 1994, Patricia Craig, review of House of Splendid Isolation, p. 41.
Newsweek, March 18, 1985, Jack Kroll, review of Virginia, p. 72.
New York Times, November 12, 1984, Michiko Kakutani, review of A Fanatic Heart: Selected Stories of Edna O'Brien, p. 21; March 21, 1985, Frank Rich, review of Virginia, p. 22; March 12, 1989, Richard B. Woodward, "Reveling in Heartbreak" (interview with author), p. 42; May 30, 1990, Herbert Mitgang, review of Lantern Slides: Stories, p. B2.
New York Times Book Review, November 18, 1984, Mary Gordon, review of A Fanatic Heart, pp. 1, 38; May 11, 1986, Anatole Broyard, review of The Country Girl Trilogy and Epilogue, p. 12; March 1, 1987, Maeve Binchy, review of Tales for the Telling: Irish Folk and Fairy Stories, p. 31; November 20, 1988, Marilynne Robinson, review of The High Road, p. 11; June 24, 1990, David Leavitt, review of Lantern Slides, p. 9; June 26, 1994, John L'Heureux, review of House of Splendid Isolation, p. 7; Robert Sullivan, January 9, 2000, "Oh Joist, Poor Joist," p. 6; April 9, 2000, Brooke Allen, "The Last of All His Kind," p. 7; May 6, 2001, Scott Veale, review of Wild Decembers, p. 36; April 7, 2002, "The Dead: Edna O'Brien's Novel Is about a Madman Who Goes on a Killing Spree in Rural Ireland," p. 11; April 14, 2002, review of In the Forest, p. 22; April 21, 2002, review of In the Forest, p. 26; June 2, 2002, review of In the Forest, p. 23; October 15, 2006, "The Romance Novelist," p. 12.
Observer (Manchester, England), April 28, 2002, Robert McCrum, "Deep Down in the Woods" (interview with author).
People, March 4, 1985, review of A Fanatic Heart, p. 12; February 6, 1989, Susan Toepfer, review of The High Road, p. 38; August 8, 1994, Jean Reynolds, review of House of Splendid Isolation, p. 21; May 1, 2000, Cynthia Sanz, "Pages," p. 41.
Philadelphia Inquirer, October 18, 2006, Frank Wilson, review of The Light of Evening.
Publishers Weekly, December 26, 1986, Amanda Smith, "Edna O'Brien's Magic," p. 30; September 9, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of The High Road, p. 122; May 4, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Lantern Slides, p. 50; April 26, 1991, review of Lantern Slides, p. 57; February 24, 1992, review of Time and Tide, p. 41; April 25, 1994, review of House of Splendid Isolation, p. 56; March 3, 1997, review of Down by the River, p. 62; January 31, 2000, review of Wild Decembers, p. 77; June 5, 2000, review of Wild Decembers, p. 61; January 28, 2002, review of In the Forest, p. 267; June 26, 2006, review of The Light of Evening, p. 26.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 1995, Helen Thompson, review of House of Splendid Isolation.
Spectator, May 4, 2002, Mary Kenny, "Women in Love: Edna O'Brien Talks to Mary Kenny about Sex with Married Men, and Reveals That She Has Never Cooked a Sunday Lunch in Her Life," p. 14; October 14, 2006, "The Sunset Burns On."
State, April 25, 2002, review of In the Forest.
Studies in Short Fiction, summer, 1993, "Love Objects: Love and Obsession in the Stories of Edna O'Brien"; spring, 1995, "Sacrificial Women in Short Stories by Mary Lavin and Edna O'Brien"; summer, 1995, "Dubliners"; summer, 1996, "Consuming Love: Edna O'Brien's ‘A Rose in the Heart of New York.’"
Style, fall, 1994, "Textual ‘You’ and Double Deixis in Edna O'Brien's ‘A Pagan Place.’"
Time, November 21, 1988, Paul Gray, review of The High Road, p. 130; April 17, 2000, Paul Gray, "Perils of the Rustic Life: Wild Decembers Portrays a Simmering Irish Feud," p. 82.
Times Literary Supplement, April 23, 1982, review of Returning, p. 456; January 9, 1987, Patricia Craig, review of Tales for the Telling, p. 46; October 28, 1988, Anne Haverty, review of The High Road, p. 1212; June 8, 1990, Louise Doughty, review of Lantern Slides, p. 616; September 18, 1992, Patricia Craig, review of Time and Tide, p. 23; April 22, 1994, Candice Rodd, review of House of Splendid Isolation, p. 22.
U.S. News & World Report, March 25, 2002, "Modern Lovers; He Said They Said; Mad in Ireland," p. 42.
Variety, December 13, 1999, Matt Wolf, review of Our Father, p. 119; January 12, 2004, Dennis Harvey, review of Triptych, p. 55.
Village Voice, July 1, 1986, Terrence Rafferty, review of The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue, p. 61.
Women's Review of Books, July, 1997, Judith Grossman, review of Down by the River, p. 30.
World Literature Today, winter, 1998, Jose Lanters, review of Down by the River, p. 135.
World of Hibernia, fall, 1999, John McCourt, review of James Joyce; summer, 2001, "What's Hot."
International Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (November 19, 2007), information on author's film work.
Irish Writers Online,http://www.irishwriters-online.com/ (November 19, 2007), information on author's works.
Kirjasto,http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/ (November 19, 2007), profile of author.
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (December 2, 1995), "Lit Chat."