Seamus Heaney has coupled Patrick Kavanagh (1904-67) with W.B.Yeats as the two most important figures in twentieth-century Irish poetry. Patrick Kavanagh was born in County Monaghan, the son of a cobbler-cum-small farmer. He left school at thirteen but continued to educate himself, reading and writing poetry in his spare time. In 1929 he began contributing verses to the Irish Statesman and was soon publishing in Irish and English journals. His first collection, Ploughman and Other Poems, appeared in 1936 and was followed by the autobiography The Green Fool (still available in paperback) in 1938. In 1939 he moved to Dublin where he spent the rest of his life as a freelance writer.
He first emerged as an important literary voice with his long poem, the Great Hunger, in 1942. Other collections and the novel Tarry Flynn (also still available in paperback) appeared in the following decades to growing critical acclaim. Kavanagh was also part of the social and literary Dublin for almost thirty years in the company of a gifted generation of writers, among them Flann O'Brien and Brendan Behan. His position in the history of Irish poetry is secure. This biography traces his life and work in a comprehensive and accessible manner, and is essential reading for all interested in Irish poetry.
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