Edna O’Brien at MFA’s 10th Anniversary

University Communications For Immediate Release
Drew Wilson, Director of Media Relations January 08, 2014
412.578.2095 (phone)
412.260.6807 (cell)
412.578.2080 (fax)
agwilson@carlow.edu

Carlow University’sMFA Program Celebrates 10thAnniversary with Reading from EdnaO’Brien

The “Doyenne” ofIrish 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 finearts (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 Irishliterature, published her first novel, TheCountry Girls, in 1960 to much acclaim and controversy.  The novel is credited with breaking thesilence on sexual matters and social issues during a repressive period inIreland following World War II, but it also was banned – and even burned – inIreland, which, for O’Brien, still hurts.

“They used to ban my books, but now whenI go there, people are courteous to my face, though rather slanderous behind myback,” she told George Plimpton for his 1986 book, Writers at Work.  “Thenagain, Ireland has changed. There are a lot of young people who areirreligious, or less religious. Ironically, they wouldn’t be interested in myearly books – they would think them gauche. They are aping English and Americanmores. If I went to a dance hall in Dublin now I would feel as alien as in adisco in Oklahoma.”

Born in 1930 in Twamgraney, County Clare,O’Brien’s family was extremely religious and she believes their strict Catholicbeliefs stifled her imagination. Her parents sent her to a convent, where thetypes of literature allowed within its confines was limited.  The first bookO’Brien ever bought was Introducing James Joyce by T.S. Eliot. She hassaid that Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist made her realize that shewanted to be surrounded by literature for the rest of her life, and thepublication of Country Girls, madethat a certainty.

Overcoming her oppressed adolescence, O’Brien was anythingbut oppressed during the “Swinging 60s,” where she threw parties in London thatwere attended by Marianne Faithfull, Sean Connery, Princess Margaret, and JaneFonda, among others.  She was wooed byRichard Burton, Marlon Brando, and Robert Mitchum, and Paul McCartney walkedher 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 memoirof her life, titled Country Girl, in2012.

Scottishnovelist 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 peopleon to the page, and she did it with style, and she made those concernsinternational.”

CarlowUniversity’s MFA program in creative writing, which can be completed in five semesters, provides theconvenience of a low-residency program with boundless opportunities in whichstudents work with internationally-renowned writers in the United States and Ireland.Each year, students complete two residencies. In January, students spend 11days in Pittsburgh, a city known for its world-class teaching and researchinstitutes. In June, students experience the magnificent setting and richliterary tradition of Ireland during an 11-day residency at Trinity CollegeDublin.

### Editor’s Note:  To arrange interviews in advance of EdnaO’Brien’s April visit to Pittsburgh, please contact Drew Wilson via e-mail at agwilson@carlow.edu or via phone at (412)578-2095.

RESERVE SEATS for the April 5, 2014, event: Please visit this form to reserve your seat for this event. General admission is $15. $5 for students. Free for Carlow students.


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Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carlow University wasfounded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1929. Offering both undergraduate andgraduate programs, Carlow University is a comprehensive master’s institutiondedicated to learner-centered education at the collegiate levels and at theelementary school level in the Campus School of Carlow University.

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