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Edward Plunkett, Baron Dunsany

Lord Dunsany (July 24, 1878 - October 25, 1957) was an Irish writer and dramatist. His full name was Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany. One of Lord Dunsany's ancestors was the Roman Catholic Saint Oliver Plunkett[?], the martyred Archbishop of Armagh. The Countess of Fingall, wife of Dunsany's cousin, the Earl of Fingall[?], wrote a best-selling account of the life of the aristrocracy in Ireland in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, called Seventy Years Young. Edward was born on July 24, 1878 to John William Plunkett, 17th Baron of Dunsany (1853 - 1899) and his wife Ernle Grosvenor.

Lord Dunsany was educated at Eton College and Sandhurst. He served as an officer in the Coldstream Guards during the Boer War, and in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers[?] in World War I. He was a keen huntsman, and sportsman, and was at one time the Chess and pistol champion of Ireland.

His fame arose, however, from his prolific writings of short stories, novels, plays and poetry, reportedly mostly written with a quill pen.

His most notable fantasy short stories were published in collections from 1905 to 1919: he had to pay for publication of the first, `The Gods of Pegana'. The stories were set within an invented world, with its own gods, history and geography. His significance within the genre of fantasy writing is considerable.

The following is the opening paragraph of "The Hoard of the Gibbelins", (first published in "The Book of Wonder" in 1912) and gives a good indication of both tone and tenor of Dunsany's work:

The Gibbelins[?] eat, as is well known, nothing less good than man. Their evil tower is joined to Terra Cognita, to the lands we know, by a bridge. Their hoard is beyond reason; avarice has no use for it; they have a separate cellar for emeralds and a separate cellar for sapphires; they have filled a hole with gold and dig it up when they need it. And the only use that is known for their ridiculous wealth is to attract to their larder a continual supply of food. In times of famine they have even been known to scatter rubies abroad, a little trail of them to some city of Man, and sure enough their larders would soon be full again.

H.P. Lovecraft was greatly impressed by Dunsany after seeing him on a speaking tour of the United States, and Lovecraft's early stories clearly show his influence. Fletcher Pratt[?]'s 1948 novel, `The Well of the Unicorn' was written as a sequel to Dunsany's play `King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior'

The catalogue of everything that Dunsany wrote during a fifty-year writing career is quite extensive; the following is a partial list compiled from various sources.

Short story collections:

  • The Gods of Pegana (1905)
  • Time and the Gods (1906)
  • The Sword of Welleran (1908)
  • A Dreamer's Tales (1910)
  • The Book of Wonder (1912)
  • Fifty-one Tales (1915)
  • Tales of Wonder (1916) (published in America as The Last Book of Wonder)
  • Tales of Three Hemispheres (1919)

The Jorkens books were of a type popular in fantasy and science fiction writing: the gentlemen's club, where extremely improbable tales are related; they consist of:

  • The Travel Tales of Mr Joseph Jorkens (1931)
  • Jorkens remembers Africa (1934)
  • Jorkens has a Large Whiskey (1940)
  • The Fourth Book of Jorkens (1948)
  • Jorkens Borrows Another Whiskey (1954)

Novels

  • The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924)
  • Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley (1922)
  • The Charwoman's Shadow (1924)
  • The Blessing of Pan (1927)
  • The Curse of the Wise Woman (1933)
  • My Talks with Dean Spauley (1936)
  • The Strange Journeys of Colonel Polders (1950)
  • The Last Revolution (1951)

Plays:

  • The Glittering Gate (1909, Abbey Theatre, Dublin)
  • The Tents of the Arabs (1910)
  • The Laughter of the Gods (1910)
  • King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior (1910 or 1911: I have different dates in different sources)
  • The Queen's Enemies
  • A Night at the Inn (1911)
  • The Gods of the Mountain (1911, Haymarket Theatre, London)

Poetry:

Essays:

  • Nowadays (1918)
  • A Glimpse from a Watchtower (1947)

Autobiography:

External Links

The official Dunsany site: e-texts of some of Lord Dunsany's works:



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