Best known as a novelist and man of letters, George Moore (1852-1933) is the author of such works as Esther Waters, A Drama in Muslin, The Untilled Field, The Brook Kerith, and his masterpiece, Hail and Farewell. Edward Martyn (1859-1923) was a distant cousin of Moore's, and, for a time, the two were close friends. Martyn, a man of considerable wealth, devoted his energies to a wide variety of activities, particularly the Church and political activism. His interest in playwriting, like Moore's, was of a secondary nature. Nevertheless, the two pooled and concentrated their talents to make important contributions at a critical juncture of the Irish literary renaissance.
In 1899, aiming to provide a platform for the work of serious native dramatists, Martyn, W. B. Yeats, and Lady Gregory together founded the Irish Literary Theatre, Martyn soon brought Moore on board to lend his experience and notoriety to the venture. The great success of the Theatre's first season was Martyn's The Heather Field, republished here, which later enjoyed brief revivals in England, Germany, and the United States. Top billing in the second season was to have gone to Martyn's fast-paced, caustic satire, The Tale of the Town, but Yeats thought the play crude and not at all suitable for a serious, literary theater. When Moore reluctantly agreed, Martyn turned the play over to them to do with as they wished. Moore then rewrote it as The Bending of the Bough. Here the plays are published together for the first time.
This volume also includes Moore's The Strike at Arlingford, The Passing of the Essenes, and The Coming of Gabrielle. This last is based on his correspondence with an Austrian countess he never met, and much of the dialogue in the play is taken directly from her letters. Martyn's Maeve, written for the Irish Literary Theatre, and An Enchanted Sea, a short lyrical play first produced in 1904, are also found here.
The plays in this volume were selected by David B. Eakin and Michael Case, who have contributed a critical introduction. Helpful bibliographical checklists of Moore's and Martyn's works, both published and unpublished, are also included.
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