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Seán O'Faoláin letters

Identifier: MSS 0141

Scope and Content Note

The Seán O'Faoláin letters, written from 1960 to 1964, are addressed to various editors for the publishers, Little, Brown, and for the magazine Atlantic Monthly. The majority of the forty-three letters concern publication details related to O'Faoláin's autobiography, Vive Moi!

Prior to the book's publication in 1964, excerpts of Vive Moi! were published in the January and October, 1964, issues of Atlantic Monthly. The letters to Edward Weeks, Louise Desaulniers, and Mrs. Flint, concern the chapters of Vive Moi! excerpted in the Atlantic Monthly.

The letters which O'Faoláin wrote to Seymour Lawrence, Peter Davidson, Sarah Sherrill, Mr. Goodearl, and "Charles," are concerned primarily with Little, Brown's publication of Vive Moi! O'Faoláin's letters are filled with publication details, such as correcting the proofs, providing a portrait of himself for publicity purposes, laying out travel plans for the book promotion tour and for attending the publication party, expressing concerns about possible libel charges related to passages in the book, refusing to include a dedication or table of contents in his book, describing work on the final chapter, and expressing his feelings upon completing the project.

In addition to information related to Vive Moi!, O'Faoláin discussed his travels, including trips to Italy and Boston; his concerns over internal problems at Little, Brown; a reworking of a collection of short stories; Katharine Anne Porter and Sean O'Sullivan; and his social visits with Seymour Lawrence.


  • Creation: 1960-1964


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Restrictions on Access

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S.Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

Irish author Seán O'Faoláin was born John Francis Whelan on February 22, 1900, in County Cork, Ireland. In 1918, while a student at University College at Cork of National University of Ireland, O'Faoláin embraced Irish nationalism, joined the Irish Volunteers, and changed his name to its Gaelic equivalent.

He was graduated from the National University of Ireland with a B. A. in 1921 and a M. A. in 1925. He also received a M.A. from Harvard University in 1929.

O'Faoláin fought in the Irish Revolution from 1918-1921 and served as the director of publicity for the Irish Republican Army in 1923. During this period of Irish social and political upheaval O'Faoláin began to write.

During his early writing career O'Faoláin also served as a lecturer in English at Princeton University (1929); Boston College (1929); and St. Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, England (1929-1933).

Widely recognized for his novels and short stories, O'Faoláin filled his writing with images of modern Irish life, examining what it meant to be Irish and to be an Irish Catholic.

Both his novels and short stories have received critical acclaim as well as being widely popular. His first published collection of short stories, Midsummer Night Madness and Other Stories (1932), received a Femina Prize nomination in 1932. O'Faoláin continued to compose numerous short stories throughout his life, contributing to journals and popular magazines, such as Colliers, McCall's, and Playboy, and culminating in his Collected Stories in 1980.

Seán O'Faoláin's earliest and best known novels, A Nest of Simple Folk (1933) and Bird Alone (1936), explore the lives of common Irishmen at different stages of Irish history. Later novels continued his exploration of Irish life and issues.

In addition to writing short stories and novels, O'Faoláin authored biographies of Eamon de Valera, Constance Markievicz, Daniel O'Connell, Hugh O'Neill, John Henry Newman, as well as his own autobiography titled Vive Moi! (1964). He was also responsible for the establishing the Irish journal, The Bell, in 1940, continuing as its editor until 1945.

Seán O'Faoláin died April 20, 1991, in Dublin, Ireland.

Metzger, Linda (ed.) Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Volume 12. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1984. pp. 349- 351. Trosky, Susan M. (ed.) Contemporary Authors. Volume 134. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1992. p. 377.


43 item (1 box)


This collection of letters written by Seán O'Faoláin, Irish author, primarily concerns publication details related to O'Faoláin's autobiography, Vive Moi!


The collection is arranged in chronological order.


Purchase, 1986.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0099, F0442 Seán O'Faoláin and Brian Friel letters to Joel Wells

MSS 0124 Signatures records

MSS 0136 Frank Hugh O'Donnell papers

Shelving Summary

Box 1: SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Processing & Encoding

Processed by Anita A. Wellner, 1993.

Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, 2006.

Finding aid for Seán O'Faoláin letters
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2006 June 9
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA