Some of the most famous English-language writers in the world were born in Ireland. Three of them are George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde.

These authors all wrote in English and were leaders of the modernist movement. Having said this, there were also numerous authors in Ireland who wrote their works in Irish, and in Latin. In this article, we will find out more about some of the authors who impacted literature, and history, with their novels and plays.

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (born in Dublin 1856, died 1950)

George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright who wrote many plays that criticised different aspects of society. The Widower’s Houses (1892) was about life in the slums and how landlords took advantage of residents. His most famous play was Pygmalion (1913); a satire of the English class system. The story was about a girl from an impoverished area who is converted into a posh woman following a few classes with a speech therapist. The film My Fair Lady was based on this play. In 1925 he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature.

James Joyce

James Joyce (born in Dublin 1882, died 1941)

James Joyce is considered to be one of the most influential and significant novelists of the 20th century. Many admire him for the way he used many radical literary techniques, especially in his novel Ulysses. His other novels include Finnegan’s Wake (1939), which is about the life of a family of a publican from Dublin. Another novel, The Dubliners, is a collection of fifteen short stories about the lives of various residents in Dublin. Another autobiographical account can be found in his book Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. This story refers to many religious and political aspects of life in Ireland.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde (born in Dublin 1864, died 1900)

This Irish author had a tragic life and died after spending two years in an English prison. He is famous for his sophisticated and witty plays and novels.  One of his most famous works was The Importance of Being Earnest, which is a satire on the English class system. Another famous philosophical novel by Wilde which had various different versions is The Picture of Dorian Gray. This novel was very controversial for its time and continues to be studied in English Literature programmes around the world.

Apart from writing plays and novels, Oscar Wilde also lived in the United States for a year in 1882, where he lectured about the decorative arts. For two years he worked as the editor of an influential women’s magazine and he wrote numerous essays and book reviews.


Have you read any novels or plays by Irish authors? Are there any books, stories or plays you can recommend? Share your ideas with us in the comments section.


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