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Sebastian Barry - Author

About the Author

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include The Steward of Christendom and The Pride of Parnell Street and his novels include The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, Annie Dunne, A Long Long Way and The Secret Scripture. A Long Long Way was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Dublin International Impac Prize, and was the Dublin: One City One Book for 2007. The Secret Scripture won the Costa Book of the Year award, the Irish Book Awards Best Novel, the Independent Booksellers Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He lives in Wicklow with his wife and three children.


Photo credit: ©Alan Betson, The Irish Times

Featured books by Sebastian Barry

Other books by Sebastian Barry

On Canaan's Side

On Canaan's Side

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/08/2011

Tales of Ballycumber

Tales of Ballycumber

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/10/2009

Here, now, listen, I'll tell you a tale . . . Daffodils are in bloom as dawn breaks over the foothills of Ballycumber, ushering in hope for a new day and stirring the ghosts of a past fraught with sorrow, anguish and emptiness. In search of advice, young Evans Stafford calls at the home of friend and strong-minded traditionalist, Nicholas Farquhar. The following day, as Farquhar learns the devastating consequences of this meeting, he discovers that his memories and words are governed by a buried history; a force far greater than himself. Sebastian Barry's Tales of Ballycumber premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in September 2009.

The Secret Scripture

The Secret Scripture

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 29/01/2009

Nearing her one-hundredth birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital where she's spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr. Grene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates. Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful. Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne's story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland's changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.

Andersen's English

Andersen's English

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/01/2009

Celebrated children's writer Hans Christian Andersen arrives, unannounced, for a stay at Gad's Hill Place in the Kent marshes - home to Charles Dickens and his large, charismatic family. To the lonely and eccentric guest, the members of Dickens' household seem to live a life of unreachable bliss. But with his broken English, Andersen doesn't at first see the storms brewing within the family: undeclared passions, a son about to go to India, and a growing strangeness at the heart of Dickens' marriage. Andersen's English by Sebastian Barry premiered at the Theatre Royal, Bury, in February 2010 in a production by Out of Joint.

Dallas Sweetman

Dallas Sweetman

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/10/2008

From his grave in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral, Dallas Sweetman is called to give account. He tells a story of love and death, jealousy and miraculous happenings, of the divided loyalties of Protestants and Catholics in the Elizabethan Age. Before us, his judges, Dallas seeks to justify the actions of his life. But is he telling the truth? And can he be forgiven? The lost tradition of staging new plays at Canterbury Cathedral, most famously T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral, was revived with the premiere of Sebastian Barry's Dallas Sweetman in September 2008.

Secret Scripture

Secret Scripture

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: eBook Release Date: 19/09/2008

Roseanne McNulty, once one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland, is now an elderly patient at a mental hospital. As her hundredth year draws near, she decides to record the events of her life but hides the manuscript. Meanwhile, the hospital is preparing to close and is evaluating which patients can return to society. Dr. Grene, Roseanne's caretaker, takes a special interest in her case. In his research, he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne's life than what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt to understand each other, they begin to uncover long-buried secrets about themselves. Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is an epic story of love, betrayal, and unavoidable tragedy.

The Pride of Parnell Street

The Pride of Parnell Street

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/05/2008

See, love between a man and a woman, it's - private. It happens where you never do see it. In rooms. Italy 1 - Ireland 0... The score that marked Ireland's demoralizing exit from Italia '90 took its toll. No more so than for Janet and Joe Brady of Parnell Street who lost far more than the match that night. Some years on, Joe and Janet reveal the intimacies of their love and the rupture of their marriage, through interconnecting monologues that also evoke their life-long love affair with Dublin city itself. Sebastian Barry's explores with vivid tenderness the devastating effects of public and private acts of violence. This is an intimate, heroic tale of ordinary and extraordinary life on the streets of Dublin. Fishamble's world premiere of The Pride of Parnell Street opened at the Tricycle Theatre, London, and as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival at the Tivoli Theatre, Dublin, in September 2007.

The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty

The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/06/2006

Following the end of the First World War, Eneas McNulty joins the British-led Royal Irish Constabulary. With all those around him becoming soldiers of a different kind, however, it proves to be the defining decision of his life when, having witnessed the murder of a fellow RIC policeman, he is wrongly accused of identifying the executioners. With a sentence of death passed over him he is forced to flee Sligo, his friends, family and beloved girl, Viv. What follows is the story of this flight, his subsequent wanderings, and the haunting pull of home that always afflicts him. Tender, witty, troubling and tragic, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty tells the secret history of a lost man.

A Long Long Way

A Long Long Way

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/04/2006

One of the most vivid and realised characters of recent fiction, Willie Dunne is the innocent hero of Sebastian Barry's highly acclaimed novel. Leaving Dublin to fight for the Allied cause as a member of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, he finds himself caught between the war playing out on foreign fields and that festering at home, waiting to erupt with the Easter Rising. Profoundly moving, intimate and epic, A Long Long Way charts and evokes a terrible coming of age, one too often written out of history.

Whistling Psyche & Fred and Jane

Whistling Psyche & Fred and Jane

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/05/2004

Whistling Psyche A dark night, an old waiting room and two supposed strangers eager to reach their destinations. In the cold hours that rest between nightfall and daybreak, silent questions prompt unexpected revelations. Two souls share a passion for reform, but only one - Miss Nightingale - has been honoured. The other, Dr Barry, would never receive the same acclaim, but notoriety came after death and for a very different reason . . . Whistling Psyche premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London in May 2004. Fred and Jane explores the deep and sustaining friendship between two nuns, Anna and Beatrice, as they recall the trials and joys of religious life. 'This is Barry at his best: evocative, gentle, suffused with the beauty of the simple and the joy of turning the strange into the familiar.' Sunday Tribune 'A rare delight. A clear-running joy.' Sunday Independent 'A triumph in its own right.' RTE Fred and Jane premiered at Bewley's Cafe Theatre, Dublin in 2002.

Annie Dunne

Annie Dunne

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/05/2003

Annie Dunne and her cousin Sarah live and work on a small farm in a remote and beautiful part of Wicklow in late 1950s Ireland. All about them the old green roads are being tarred, cars are being purchased, a way of life is about to disappear. Like two old rooks, they hold to their hill in Kelsha, cherishing everything. When Annie's nephew and his wife are set to go to London to find work, their two small children, a little boy and his older sister, are brought down to spend the summer with their grand-aunt. It is a strange chance of happiness for Annie. Against that happiness moves the figure of Billy Kerr, with his ambiguous attentions to Sarah, threatening to drive Annie from her last niche of safety in the world. The world of childish innocence also proves sometimes darkened and puzzling to her, and she struggles to find clear ground, clear light - to preserve her sense of love and place against these subtle forces of disquiet. A summer of adventure, pain, delight and ultimately epiphany unfolds for both the children and their elderly caretakers in this poignant and exquisitely told story of innocence, loss and reconciliation.

Our Lady of Sligo

Our Lady of Sligo

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/04/1998

Cerebral and lyrical, he is the new crown prince of Ireland's majestic theatrical tradition (Newsweek) Mai O'Hara lies in a Dublin hospital in 1953 attended by a young nursing Sister and visited by the uneasy figures of her husband Jack, daughter Joanie and her dead father. Fuelled by alcohol, passion and despair it is the story of her flamboyant but destructive relationship with Jack, the lost country of her childhood and unfulfilled expectations in the wake of Irish independence and self-rule. Our Lady of Sligo was produced at the Royal National Theatre in co-production with Out of Joint, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, in April 1998.

Barry Plays Boss Grady's Boys , Prayers of Sherikin , White Woman Street , Steward of Christendom

Barry Plays Boss Grady's Boys , Prayers of Sherikin , White Woman Street , Steward of Christendom

Author: Sebastian Barry Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/05/1997

Cerebral and lyrical, he is the new crown prince of Ireland's majestic theatrical tradition (Newsweek) In Boss Grady's boys, Mick and Josey are two old fellas employed on a hill-farm on the Cork-Kerry border, still dreaming of the Wild West and freedom; Prayers of Sherkin, set in the 1890s, captures a moment of change at which ideology and doctrine are discarded for the sake of survival The play is like a gentle requiem for a dead community (Irish Times); White Woman Street is about Irish emigration to the South of America Weaving together a Western...and a very Irish drama of exile (Independent). The Only True History of Lizzie Finn, is based on the life of the author's own grandmother and in it Barry uses Lizzie's dilemma to explore the economic decay of the 1890s landowning class and the whaleboned snobberies of rural Ireland (Guardian). In The Steward of Christendom, Thomas Dunne, an ex-chief superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan police looks back on his career built during the latter years of Queen Victoria's empire, from his home in Baltinglass in Dublin in 1932. Sebastian Barry's plays are about history, but not in any very obvious or familiar sense...The history that informs these plays is a history of counter-currents, of lost strands, of untold stories. Against the simple narrative of Irish history as a long tale of colonisation and resistance, Barry releases more complex stories of people who are, in one way or another, a disgrace to that history...In Sebastian Barry's luminous plays, grace and disgrace are not opposites but constant companions. (Fintan O'Toole)

The Only True History of Lizzie Finn

The Only True History of Lizzie Finn

Author: Sebastian Barry, Fintan O'Toole Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/10/1995

This volume contains the three most recent plays by the playwright credited with bringing poetic drama back to the Irish stage. The plays are White Woman Street, Steward of Christendom and The Only True History of Lizzie Finn.

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