The Emerald Isle has been commonly referred to in the past as the land of saints and scholars. It is a nation which has a rich history when it comes to producing literary greats. There is no shortage of Irish writers to admire.
From playwrights to poets to talented novelists, there have been many Irish writers who have produced works that have become famous worldwide and withstood the test of time so much so that they are still honoured and remembered to this day.
In this article, we will list what we believe to be the top ten Irish writers of all time.
10. Eoin Colfer – a world-famous children’s author
Eoin Colfer was born in 1965 in Wexford and was a primary school teacher who became a world-famous author of children’s books, his best known being the Artemis Fowl series, currently being adapted into films.
9. Bram Stoker – he inspired the vampire genre
Abraham Stoker, commonly referred to as Bram Stoker, was born in Dublin in 1847 and was a short story writer and novelist best known for his tale of Dracula, which was published in 1897. Dracula has since become one of the best-selling books of all time and has influenced over 1,000 vampire-based movies which were inspired by it.
8. Brendan Behan – a writer whose eventful life influenced his works
Brendan Behan was born in Dublin in 1923 and lived a colourful, yet short, life. Behan was a member of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and served time in prison. His prison sentence and time with the IRA heavily influenced his writing style and led him to publish reflective works such as Confessions of an Irish Rebel.
7. Maeve Binchy – a national treasure
Maeve Binchy was born in Dublin in 1939 and became one of the most beloved writers, not only in Ireland but around the world. Many of her novels were set in rural and small towns in Ireland and were known for their descriptive characters and twist endings. Maeve Binchy sold over 40 million copies of her works, quickly earning her place amongst the top Irish writers of all time.
6. John Banville – a critically-acclaimed writer
John Banville was born in Wexford in 1945 and has become one of, if not the most, critically-acclaimed Irish writer. He has published a whopping eighteen novels, six plays, one short story collection, and two works of non-fiction. He’s renowned for his precise style of writing and the dark humour it embodies.
5. Roddy Doyle – he perfectly captures Irish humour in the written form
Roddy Doyle was born in 1958 in Dublin and is famous and loved for his novels which perfectly capture and convey the typical Dublin sense of humour. The majority of them are set in working-class Dublin. Each book in The Barrytown Trilogy has been adapted into a film and have become cult classics within Irish culture.
4. C. S. Lewis – he created a world of imagination
C. S. Lewis was born in 1898 in Belfast and lived there for the early part of his life. He was said to have been a very imaginative child, so perhaps it’s not surprising that he used this to his advantage in writing the children’s classic The Chronicles of Narnia. This series has sold over 100 million copies in 41 different languages and has been adapted by many forms of media too.
3. Samuel Beckett – a great playwright, poet, and novelist
Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin in 1906 and, alongside his fellow Dubliner, James Joyce, is commonly regarded as being one of the most influential playwrights, poets, and novelists of the 20th century. His works were written in both English and French and are based on human nature, often containing dark and comedic undertones.
2. Oscar Wilde – known for his flamboyant fashion and writing style
Born in Dublin in 1854, Oscar Wilde quickly became one of the most recognisable writers around, not only thanks to his literary works, but because of his colourful fashion style and legendary wit. Oscar Wilde published many famous works such as A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest, along with many other children’s stories.
1. James Joyce – one of the most influential writers of the 20th century
James Joyce was born in 1882 in Dublin and is widely considered to be one of the most important and influential Irish writers of the early 20th century. The most famous of James Joyce’s works would be his book Ulysses, which took him seven years to write, and is commonly praised for its unique modernist style that completely revolutionised fiction writing in the 20th century.
That concludes our list of what we consider to be the top ten Irish writers of all time. How many of their works have you read already?