January 8, 2014
For immediate release Contact: Drew Wilson
MFA Program Celebrates 10thAnniversary with Reading from Edna
The “Doyenne” of
Irish Literature Will Be in Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 5, 2014 for a Reading
Pittsburgh, Pa. –
Carlow University is pleased to welcome acclaimed Irish novelist, memoirist,
and poet, Edna O’Brien to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its master of fine
arts (MFA) in creative writing program on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
in the Rosemary Heyl Theatre, in Antonian Hall on the Carlow campus.
“Edna O’Brien is an international icon,” said Ellie Wymard,
PhD, director of the MFA program at Carlow.
O’Brien, who has been called the doyenne of Irish
literature, published her first novel, The
Country Girls, in 1960 to much acclaim and controversy. The novel is credited with breaking the
silence on sexual matters and social issues during a repressive period in
Ireland following World War II, but it also was banned – and even burned – in
Ireland, which, for O’Brien, still hurts.
"They used to ban my books, but now when
I go there, people are courteous to my face, though rather slanderous behind my
back,” she told George Plimpton for his 1986 book, Writers at Work. “Then
again, Ireland has changed. There are a lot of young people who are
irreligious, or less religious. Ironically, they wouldn't be interested in my
early books – they would think them gauche. They are aping English and American
mores. If I went to a dance hall in Dublin now I would feel as alien as in a
disco in Oklahoma."
Born in 1930 in Twamgraney, County Clare,
O’Brien’s family was extremely religious and she believes their strict Catholic
beliefs stifled her imagination. Her parents sent her to a convent, where the
types of literature allowed within its confines was limited. The first book
O'Brien ever bought was Introducing James Joyce by T.S. Eliot. She has
said that Joyce's Portrait of the Artist made her realize that she
wanted to be surrounded by literature for the rest of her life, and the
publication of Country Girls, made
that a certainty.
Overcoming her oppressed adolescence, O’Brien was anything
but oppressed during the “Swinging 60s,” where she threw parties in London that
were attended by Marianne Faithfull, Sean Connery, Princess Margaret, and Jane
Fonda, among others. She was wooed by
Richard Burton, Marlon Brando, and Robert Mitchum, and Paul McCartney walked
her home late one evening.
The author of more than 30 novels, short story collections,
non-fiction books, dramas, and poetry collections, O’Brien published a memoir
of her life, titled Country Girl, in
novelist Andrew O’Hagan believes O’Brien “changed the nature of Irish fiction;
she brought the woman's experience and sex and internal lives of those people
on to the page, and she did it with style, and she made those concerns
University’s MFA program in creative writing, which can be completed in five semesters, provides the
convenience of a low-residency program with boundless opportunities in which
students work with internationally-renowned writers in the United States and Ireland.
Each year, students complete two residencies. In January, students spend 11
days in Pittsburgh, a city known for its world-class teaching and research
institutes. In June, students experience the magnificent setting and rich
literary tradition of Ireland during an 11-day residency at Trinity College
Editor’s Note: To arrange interviews in advance of Edna
O’Brien’s April visit to Pittsburgh, please contact Drew Wilson via e-mail at email@example.com or via phone at (412)
Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carlow University was
founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1929. Offering both undergraduate and
graduate programs, Carlow University is a comprehensive master's institution
dedicated to learner-centered education at the collegiate levels and at the
elementary school level in the Campus School of Carlow University.