Liam O'Flaherty

Illustration © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society. Catalogue information based on the catalogue raisonné by David Cleall. For this and full details of the exhibitions cited, see the links below. Any auction prices quoted may not include all fees and taxes, such as VAT and Artist's Resale Right charges.

Liam O'Flaherty

Liam O'Flaherty, 1926
Black and red chalk, 20.3 cm x 14.6 cm

Published in New Coterie No. 3, summer 1926, and as a frontispiece to Liam O'Flaherty, Darkness: A Tragedy in Three Acts (London: E. Archer, 1926).
O'Flaherty (1896–1984), born on Inishmore, in the Aran Islands, was a novelist and short-story writer. During the First World War, serving in the Irish Guards, he was wounded in the head by an exploding shell and suffered severe shell-shock which led to his being invalided out of the army with a small pension. In January 1922, with a number of unemployed dockers, for three days he occupied the Rotunda building in Dublin, raising a red flag over it and giving himself the title of 'Chairman of the Council of the Unemployed', before fleeing to Cork. He then went to London and began trying to write. His first novel to be published was Thy Neighbour's Wife (1923), and thereafter he published more than a dozen novels – mainly set in Inishmore or Dublin – and several collections of short stories, the last of them written in Irish. His thriller The Informer (1925) was filmed in 1929 and again (by John Ford) in 1935. He also published two autobiographies: Two Years (1930) and Shame the Devil (1934). Darkness, the play for which this portrtait was used as a frontispiece, was first performed in Irish at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in March 1926. In order to establish performance copyright in the English version, O'Flaherty asked the publisher, Charles Lahr, to arrange for a reading of the play, or even just the first act, and this reading took place at William Roberts's Chalk Farm studio on 27 April 1926 with an amateur cast which included Sarah Roberts.
PROVENANCE: Wyndham T. Vint > ? > Christie's 15 July 2008 (£1,188, described as William O'Flaherty) > National Library of Ireland
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Perth 1936, Cheltenham 1937

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