Francis Macmanus Biography
(1909–65), Stand and Give Challenge, Candle for the Proud, Men Withering, This House Was Mine
Irish novelist, born in Kilkenny, educated at University College, Dublin. He joined Radio Eireann as general features editor in 1948, in which capacity he introduced the Thomas Davis lectures series. His first novel, Stand and Give Challenge (1934), is the first volume of a trilogy about life in eighteenth-century Ireland; Candle for the Proud (1936) and Men Withering (1939) completed the trilogy, which is unified by the central figure of the poet Donnacha Ruadh MacConmara. His second trilogy, based on the fictional rural town of Drombridge, is set in the Kilkenny of his experience; This House Was Mine (1937), Flow On, Lovely River (1941), and Watergate (1942) deal with the established themes of Irish rural life: obsessions with land, sexual frustration, and the trials of emigration and return. He wrote three other novels in the early 1940s: The Wild Garden (1940), a study in the emotions of childhood; The Greatest of These (1943), concerning religious conflict in nineteenth-century Kilkenny, a theme similar to that of The Big Chapel (1972) by Thomas Kilroy; and Statue for a Square (1945), his one (unsuccessful) attempt at being humorous. In his last two novels, MacManus descended into the depths of theological debate; The Fire in the Dust (1950) was followed by American Son (1959), a remarkable dialogue between conflicting modes of belief which, none the less, reveals the strong influence of Roman Catholicism on its author.
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