Brendan Behan (1923 - 1964)
Brendan Francis Behan was a poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both Irish and English. He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army.
Behan was born in the inner city of Dublin in 1923 into an educated working class family. He lived in a house on Russell Street near Mountjoy Square which was owned by his grandmother.
At sixteen, Behan joined the IRA and embarked on an unauthorised solo mission to England. He was arrested and found in possession of explosives. Behan was sentenced to three years in a Borstal and did not return to Ireland until 1941. He wrote about these years in his autobiography, Borstal Boy. In 1942, Behan was tried for the attempted murder of two detectives in Dublin Sentenced to fourteen years in prison, he was incarcerated in Mountjoy Prison and the Curragh. These experiences were relayed in "Confessions of an Irish Rebel."
Behan's fortunes changed in 1954 with the appearance of his play The Quare Fellow -- his major breakthrough. The prison dialogue in the play is vivid and laced with satire. In September 1956 the Abbey Theatre performed The Quare Fellow. It had such success that the artistic director of the Abbey Theatre had to push the next play back to allow The Quare Fellow to run for six weeks.
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Behan found fame difficult. He had long been a heavy drinker and developed diabetes in the early 1960s. As his fame grew, so too did his alcohol consumption. By March 1964, the end was in sight. Collapsing at a bar, he was transferred to hospital in central Dublin, where he died, aged 41.