Brian Friel


Kelly Matthews

Paperback €26.95
Catalogue Price: €29.95
ISBN: 978-1-80151-140-7
June 2024. 216 pages. Ills.

“Brian Friel is one of the great playwrights of the last 50 years but his genius did not come fully formed. Kelly Matthews wonderfully illuminates the early history of the development of Friel’s literary and theatrical imagination and his efforts to make his mark as a writer through his interactions with the BBC, the Irish Times, the New Yorker, the professional theatre. Superbly researched and engagingly written, this is an essential work for anyone interested in the theatre, in the Ireland of the 1950s and early 1960s and in the difficult struggles that are so often the long prelude to fame.” Fintan O’Toole

Brian Friel: Beginnings’ by Kelly Matthews is published by Four Courts Press and is out now. Based on letters and documents recently discovered in the BBC and New Yorker archives, primarily correspondence between Friel and his early mentors, BBC radio producer Ronald Mason and New Yorker editor Roger Angell, the book shows the evolution of Friel’s work, and indeed his personality. What’s remarkable and what leaps out immediately, is his incredible openness to what we now call “feedback”. Which in those days was far more detailed, and indeed harsh, than anyone would expect now ... What’s also remarkable is Friel’s persistence in the face of disappointment ... the openness of Friel’s response to criticism and disappointment – to failure, essentially – is a glorious lesson in resilience.” Emily Hourican, the Sunday Independent, Sunday 9th June 2024