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George Fitzmaurice Biography

(1878–1963), The Country Dressmaker, The Playboy of the Western World, The Pie-Dish

Irish play-wright, born near Listowel, Co. Kerry; his father was a Church of Ireland clergyman and his mother a Catholic. He went to work for the Civil Service in Dublin in 1901, and lived in the city for most of his life, working at the Department of Agriculture. Though less renowned, Fitzmaurice ranks with Synge and O'Casey as one of the Abbey Theatre's most important early dramatists. He began his writing career with peasant comedies. His first play, The Country Dressmaker (1907), was one of the Abbey Theatre's early successes, despite Yeats's warning that it would bring more trouble than Synge's The Playboy of the Western World. With his one-act plays The Pie-Dish (1908) and The Magic Glasses (1913), Fitzmaurice started to move away from realistic drama and into a realm of fantasy and experiment, a development which culminated in later works such as The Dandy Dolls, The Enchanted Land, and The Ointment Blue, which were published posthumously in The Collected Plays of George Fitzmaurice (1970). His strange and brilliant imagination is comparable with that of James Stephens and Flann O'Brien, but has been unfortunately neglected. Yeats, who never really approved of Fitzmaurice's work, seems to have made life difficult, rejecting several of his plays, including The Moonlighters (1970). After the Abbey's production of Twixt the Giltinans and the Carmodys (1923), Fitzmaurice, sensitive to criticism and more enamoured with fairy-land, opted out of the theatrical scene and lived as a recluse. Since his death, the Abbey has recognized his significance and has staged several of his plays, some for the first time.

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