Mary Lavin Biography
(1912–96), Tales from Bective Bridge, The Shrine, A Family Likeness, The House in Clewe Street
Irish short-story writer and novelist, born in East Walpole, Massachusetts, and moved to Ireland at the age of ten; she was educated at University College, Dublin, and at the National University of Ireland. Lavin's talents for characterization, dialogue, and succinct description are best displayed in her short stories, of which she published more than a dozen collections since Tales from Bective Bridge (1942), and which earned her comparisons with Chekhov. Set against the backdrop of a changing Ireland, these stories employ a range of narrative perspectives, often those of children. The collections The Shrine (1977) and A Family Likeness (1985) reveal a wider range wherein family memoirs present a microcosmic view of several Irish and immigrant generations, and the Protestant–Catholic divide is examined through the contrasting viewpoints of adolescents. In her two novels, The House in Clewe Street (1945) and Mary O'Grady (1950), Lavin explored in some depth the themes of her shorter fiction. Her stories have been collected in three volumes (1964–85).