Brian O'Nolan Collection | English | SIU

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Brian O'Nolan Collection

The Brian O'Nolan collection in Morris Library is the largest O'Nolan holding in the world, measuring approximately six linear feet. It contains correspondence, most of it to and from O'Nolan between 1938 and 1966, as well as typescripts of all O'Nolan novels except At-Swim-Two-Birds. Also here are typescripts of the unfinished novel Slattery's Sago Saga and several short stories, among them "Ireland Home and Beauty." There are many reviews and news columns under O'Nolan's various pen names, including "A Weekly Look Round," "The Column Bawn," and "Cruiskeen Lawn"; manuscript articles, among them "Irish Whiskey Rebellion," "To the Irishman on the Street," "The Insect Play," and "Robinson's Cruise-O!"; and manuscript "sketches" and essays under the O'Nolan pseudonyms Flann O'Brien, George Knowall, and Myles na gCopaleen.

The collection also features manuscript stage plays, including The Boy from Ballytearim, Faustus Kelly, and Thirst; and manuscript teleplays, including "Boots and Saddle," "Hullaballoons at Christmas," "The Ideas of O'Dea," "Is TV a Good Thing?," "Playing the Game," "Present Problems," and "Wedding Bells." There are also a large assortment of newspaper and magazine reviews of O'Nolan's plays and novels; book jackets, notebooks, and photographs of O'Nolan; and a number of related books and magazines, including the 1943 Dublin edition of Faustus Kelly, the German editions of At-Swim-Two-Birds and The Hard Life, and Hugh Leonard's 1965 stage adaptation of The Dalkey Archive, entitled "When the Saints Go Cycling In."

The collection is of particular value to the researcher, not only because it affords access to original O'Nolan manuscripts, but also because it contains many items from obscure magazines and newspapers. The original material is divided into two sections: correspondence and manuscripts. Correspondence is in three groups: letters to, letters about, and letters by Brian O'Nolan. Manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by title, and each is followed by a group of pertinent news articles and photographs.