Sean O’Casey

Sean O’Casey – Domaine Public
Sean O’Casey – Domaine Public

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.

Biography of Sean O’Casey

A writer with a passion for the Irish nationalist cause..

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.

First works

His work, which was engaged until 1929, was marked by three pieces:

  • The Shadow of a Maverick (1923) evokes the terror of the Black and Tans in occupied Dublin.
  • Juno and the Peacock (1924) deals with the Civil War of 1921.
  • La Charrue et les étoiles (1926) recalls the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter rising in 1916. The noise made by the publication (in the context of the time) of “The Plough and the Stars” led to his exile during which he wrote a 6-volume autobiography.

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.