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Great Irish Authors

Home to acclaimed authors, including four Nobel Prize laureates, Ireland has given the world a rich body of literature. This three part series, Great Irish Authors, hosted by Ambrose Video Publishing's founder William Ambrose, focuses on the great Irish tradition of storytelling, including the plays of Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and Samuel Beckett; the satire of Jonathan Swift; the poetry of William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney; and the novels of James Joyce, Bram Stoker and Frank McCourt. These Irish authors and others have changed the course of world literature. Shot in HD in Ireland, this series presents a clear and penetrating historical analysis of 18 of Ireland's greatest authors and their impact on world literature.
  • Title ID 79-GIA
  • English, English Literature
  • 3 Programs
  • 8 Supplemental Files
  • 10th Grade through Post Secondary
  • Published by Ambrose Video Publishing Inc./Centre Communications
Included Programs
Supplemental Files

Included Programs

The ClassicsRunning time is 29 minutes

Shot in HD, the insightful series, Great Irish Authors, examines the literature and literary traditions of Ireland through the novels, plays, short stories and poetry of its many talented authors and writers.

Chapter List
5th Century AD - St. Patrick's Prayer
The rich cultural legacy of Ireland includes its language - Irish or Irish Gaelic - as well as influences from Celts and St. Patrick, the Book of Armagh and a history of its ancient mythology and lore found in The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, also known as The Annals of the Four Masters.
1726 - Gulliver's Travels, the First Great Irish Novel
Known for his satire, Jonathan Swift wrote A Tale of a Tub, A Modest Proposal, Gulliver's Travels, which chronicles the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver among the Lilliputians, the country of Blefuscu and the Houyhnhnms.
1766 - Oliver Goldsmith Publishes The Vicar of Wakefield
Following in the footsteps of Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith wrote ingenious satire as in his masterpiece, The Vicar of Wakefield, a story about the Primroses.
1891 - Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is Published
Playwright and novelist Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray and later was put in prison because of his homosexual affair with Alfred Douglas, son of John Douglas, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry.
1897 - Bram Stoker Introduces Dracula to the World
Bram Stoker wrote gothic novel such as The Snake's Pass, and his masterpiece, Dracula, which introduced the immortal characters of the vampire, Count Dracula, and Van Helsing.

Early 20th Century AuthorsRunning time is 29 minutes

In the first half of the 20th century, Irish character and identity became fully separate from their English-influenced past. Program two investigates how Ireland's turbulent early 20th century history also spawned the great Irish literary Revival as well as modernism through her plays, drama and poetry.

Chapter List
1913 - George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion is Performed
Playwright and Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw was a member of Britain's famous Fabian Society and wrote many plays and dramas, including Arms and the Man, Candida, Caesar and Cleopatra, Man and Superman, Major Barbara, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Pygmalion, Saint Joan, Widowers Houses and The Philanderer.
1916 - W.B. Yeats, Father of the Irish Literary Revival
Nobel Prize winning poet W.B. (William Butler) Yeats, famous for his poetry, including Easter 1916 and Lake Isle of Innisfree, was a founder of the Irish Literary Revival and co-founded Dublin's Abbey Theatre with Lady Gregory, J. M. Synge, Sean O'Casey and Padraic Colum.
1922 - James Joyce, Ulysses
Stream of consciousness style novelist, James Joyce, wrote Finnegans Wake, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Exiles and his masterpiece, Ulysses, immortalizing the characters of Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and Molly Bloom.
1923 - Sean O'Casey Begins the Dublin Trilogy
Playwright Sean O'Casey, helped found Dublin's Abbey Theatre and wrote his famous Dublin Trilogy - The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock, The Plough and the Stars - three plays about the Irish War of Independence, the Irish Civil War and the 1916 Easter uprising.
1925 - Liam O'Flaherty Wins the James Tait Black Memorial Prize
Liam O'Flaherty, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, wrote the thrilling short story, 'The Sniper', and the masterful novel The Informer, which immortalized the character of Gypo Nolan.

The New WaveRunning time is 29 minutes

As World War II came and went, a new cadre of Irish authors emerged onto the world stage. Program three examines how Irish Literature distinguished itself in every literary genre, from children's literature and books, to Nobel prize-winning novels, plays and poetry.

Chapter List
1941 - Brian O'Nolan Writes an Irish Language Novel
Brian O'Nolan, who also wrote under the names Flann O'Brien and Myles na gCopaleen, wrote the novels At Swim -Two-Birds, and The Third Policeman, as well as An Beal Bocht (The Poor Mouth), a novel written entirely in Irish Gaelic and inspired by Thomas O'Crohan.
1953 - Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot Premieres
Playwright and Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett became a writer after a chance meeting with James Joyce and went on to produce such masterpieces of drama as Waiting for Godot, Dream of Fair to Middling Women, Murphy and the short story Stirrings Still.
1954 - Dame Iris Murdoch Pens Under the Net
Dame Iris Murdoch was an Oxford teacher and philosopher who wrote over 25 books, plays and essays, including Under the Net.
1954 - C.S. Lewis Completes The Chronicles of Narnia
Oxford medieval scholar and Christian C.S. Lewis, wrote his Space Trilogy at the urging of his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, but he is best known for his famous Chronicles of Narnia.
1954 - Brendan Behan's The Quare Fellow Premieres in Dublin
Brendan Behan wrote The Quare Fellow, the Hostage and Borstal Boy, however his literary career was cut short because of his alcoholism.
1960 - Edna O'Brien Begins The Country Girls Trilogy
Inheriting the mantle of the liberated female author from Virginia Woolf, Edna O'Brien mastered James Joyce's stream of consciousness style, as well as writing about sex from the female perspective just as D.H. Lawrence did so from the male in writing her Country Girls Trilogy, which introduced the characters of Kate and Baba.
1997 - Frank McCourt Wins the Pulitzer Prize
Frank McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize for Angela's Ashes, book one of his autobiographical trilogy, which also included 'Tis and Teacherman.
2009 - Seamus Heaney Reads 'Digging'
Poet Seamus Heaney, known for his hauntingly beautiful translation of Beowulf, won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his masterful poetry, including 'Digging'.

Supplemental Files

Great Irish Authors - Educator's Guide
Great Irish Authors - Reading List
Great Irish Authors - References
Great Irish Authors - Timeline
MARC Records for GIA
MARC records for the series Great Irish Authors
Transcription for The Classics
Transcription for Early 20th Century Authors
Transcription for The New Wave


Irish authors are celebrated in literary pub crawls, bronze statues, and landmarks in Ireland, according to host William Ambrose, who sets the historical stage in this sweeping introduction to "Ireland's greatest authors and their impact on world literature." The chronologically arranged three-program study begins with The Classics, which highlights the Celtic oral tradition in medieval Ireland before moving on to authors Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, and Bram Stoker. Next, Early 20th Century Authors introduces playwright George Bernard Shaw and poets and novelists William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Sean O'Casey, and Liam O'Flaherty. The final program, The New Wave, showcases Samuel Beckett, Dame Iris Murdoch, and C. S. Lewis, among others, including Frank McCourt and Seamus Heaney. Costumed reenactments, contemporary footage, artifacts, maps, paintings, drawings, photographs, film clips, and excerpted readings enliven this survey. With short, well-captioned segments and fast pacing, this title is a good companion to Great Authors of the British Isles (also available from Ambrose) for students Recommended