Sean O’Casey is a great Irish writer, known for his strong political commitment, as well as for his deeply engaged literary works. Drawing his inspiration from Irish history and the nationalist struggle, his works disturbed the government of the time.
Born into a Protestant family in Dublin’s slums, Sean O’Casey was educated on his own. A serious chronic eye disease prevented him from going to school and forced him to attend home schooling provided by his parents. His cornea is deteriorating rapidly and will handicap him for the rest of his life, until he goes permanently blind.
An idealist, he became involved at a very young age in the struggle for an independent Ireland, and was one of the intellectuals who joined Jim Larkin in 1913 during the great strikes. Sean O’Casey then discovered the theatre, and made his first steps on the stage of the Abbey Theatre, directed at the time by William Butler Yeats.
His work, which was engaged until 1929, was marked by three pieces:
In 1929 Sean O’Casey wrote The Silver Bowl which was to be an indictment of the Great War. William Butler Yeats then dismissed O’Casey from his theatre. From then on his plays became experimental and more expressionist. He mixes poetry, realism and provocation while keeping a claiming pen and towards the end quite anticlerical …
Among these works, we note especially: Behind the gates of the park (1933), Aubaines (1934), L’étoile devient rouge (1940), Roses rouges pour moi (1943), Feuilles de chêne et lavande (1946), On attend un évêque (1955), Les tambours du père Ned (1958).
O’Casey has been close to Brooks Atkinson’s communist movement and is believed to be the author of..: “Anyone who honors or gives to the community is a communist. His work “The Star Turns Red” can also be considered as a piece flattering the values of communism.
He died in Torquay, Devonshire, in 1964.