“Anybody can make history; only a great man can write it.”

An "I ❤ Literature" t-shirt featuring the Irish flag, available on Cafe Press--click the image to go to the store if you're interested.

Irish lit scholars, please don’t curse me for this.

Because today is St. Paddy’s day, I thought I’d list — in no particular order and with deepest respect for anyone I’ve left off (and there will be a lot of those) — a few writers I have read and enjoyed who hail from the Emerald Isle:

  • Bram Stoker
  • Sheridan Le Fanu
  • Oscar Wilde*
  • Frank McCourt (I shook his hand once!  Rest in peace, our old friend!)
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Iris Murdoch
  • Samuel Beckett
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • James Joyce
  • William Butler Yeats
  • C. S. Lewis
  • Cormac McCarthy (who is as American as they get but who identifies strongly with his Irish roots, and I respect that; also, I’ll take any excuse I can get to put Cormac McCarthy on a list)

Incidentally, I find my list deplorably short of women! Is Iris Murdoch all I can come up with? I had Maria Edgeworth here but then I remembered that while she wrote extensively about the Irish, she was part of the Anglo-Irish gentry herself, and was born in England. Does she count? I’m not sure. Okay, Irish lit scholars, you can weigh in after all — help me out here!

* The quote that is the title of this post?  It’s Oscar Wilde.  Who else?

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

7 thoughts on ““Anybody can make history; only a great man can write it.”

  1. I somehow forgot all about St. Paddy’s day yesterday. It would have been a great excuse to read some Yeats. He’s one of my favourite poets.

  2. Weirdly, the only Irish woman writer I can come up with is Edna O’Brien. Oh wait – Maeve Binchy. Gee, I know there are more than two. Maybe I need another coffee.

    1. I don’t know why it’s so hard. I started looking up Irish women writers, and the disproportion on the larger lists was roughly equal to my own. I guess all the great Irish women writers become singers?

      Thanks for the suggestions, though! I’ll have to look them up.

  3. No problem. And be sure to add my blog. It’s mostly posting poems and songs that I think should be checked out (occasionally with pointless commentary), but every once in awhile there’s a post on narrative craft.

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