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About the Author: James Stephens

James Stephens was an Irish novelist and poet. James' mother worked in the home of the Collins family of Dublin and was adopted by them. He attended school with his adopted brothers Thomas and Richard (Tom and Dick) before graduating as a solicitor's clerk. They competed and won several athletic competitions despite James' slight stature (he stood 4'10" in his socks). He was known affectionately as 'Tiny Tim'. He was much enthralled by tales of military valour of his adoptive family and would have been a soldier except for his height. By the early 1900s James was increasingly inclined to socialism and the Irish language (he could speak and write Irish) and by 1912 was a dedicated Irish Republican. He was a close friend of the 1916 leader Thomas MacDonagh, who was then editor of "The Irish Review", manager of the Irish Theatre and deputy headmaster in St Enda's, the radical bilingual Montessori school run by PH Pearse, and spent most with MacDonagh in 1911. His growing nationalism brought a schism with his adopted family.
James Stephens produced many retellings of Irish myths and fairy tales. His retellings are marked by a rare combination of humour and lyricism (Deirdre, and Irish Fairy Tales are often especially praised). He also wrote several original novels (Crock of Gold, Etched in Moonlight, Demi-Gods) based loosely on Irish fairy tales. "Crock of Gold," in particular, achieved enduring popularity and was reprinted frequently throughout the author's lifetime.
Stephens began his career as a poet with the tutelage of "Æ" (George William Russell). His first book of poems, "Insurrections," was published in 1909. His last book, "Kings and the Moon" (1938), was also a volume of verse.
During the 1930s, Stephens had some acquaintance with James Joyce, who mistakenly believed that they shared a birthday. Joyce, who was concerned with his ability to finish what later became Finnegans Wake, proposed that Stephens assist him, with the authorship credited to JJ & S (James Joyce & Stephens, also a pun for the popular Irish whiskey made by John Jameson & Sons). The plan, however, was never implemented, as Joyce was able to complete the work on his own.
During the last decade of his life, Stephens found a new audience through a series of broadcasts on the BBC.


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Goodreads rating: 3.80

Paperback, Published in Apr 2008 by Book Jungle

ISBN10: 1605974501 | ISBN13: 9781605974507

Page count: 196

James Stephens was an early 20th century Irish poet and writer. His humor and lyric writing style are a wonderful addition to the retelling of Irish fairytales. His novels A Crock of Gold and Etched in Moonlight are also based on Irish fairytales. Tales included are: The story of Tuan Mac Cairill -- The boyhood of Fionn -- The birth of Bran -- Oisi'n's mother -- The wooing of Becfola -- The little brawl at Allen -- The Carl of the drab coat -- The enchanted cave of Cesh Corran -- Becuma of the white skin -and Mongan's frenzy

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