|A jest from Denis Johnston |
Some other writers were invited who were of prominence in the 1950s but are either largely forgotten now or are little read: there are letters from Seumas O'Sullivan (1879-1958), a poet and editor of The Dublin Magazine; Leonard Strong (1896-1958), a Plymouth-born Anglo-Irish writer; and from Joyce Cary (1888-1957), a Derry-born novelist.
Those were days when speakers did not have to be invited months in advance: Professor of English, Fr Peter Connolly (St.Patrick's Maynooth) accepted an invitation to speak two days before the event. Connolly, so it seems, was ahead of his time with his critical eye on Irish society and its Church (see more here).
|Graham Greene's letter of polite refusal, 1956|
By contrast, J.B. Priestley might receive a curmudgeon's award: "I do not feel contempt for your invitation, as you suggest I might, but it does seem to me rather unreasonable... To attend your meeting would take two days." He had been invited to speak at the Society's inaugural meeting on 6 March and was to reply to Thomas Kilroy's paper about American fiction: "I happen to know a good deal more about American fiction than you do because it has always been a special study of mine and I have both written and lectured in America on their fiction." (13 February, 1956) The archives also contain Kilroy's lecture for that event, entitled "The Angry Cloth" (6 March 1956).
|Letter from "Harriet" Waugh, 1956|