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The Willow Wray Collection of the Writings of Lord Dunsany
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing History
  • Lord Dunsany Biography
  • Collection Description
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Collections

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: The Willow Wray collection of the writings of Lord Dunsany
    Dates: 1947-1959
    Collection number: 004
    Creator: Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron, 1878-1957
    Collector: Wray, Willow
    Collection Size: 6 archival document boxes, 1 oversize box 2.7 linear feet
    Repository: Loyola Marymount University. Library. Department of Archives and Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90045-2659
    Abstract: The Willow Wray Collection of the Writings of Lord Dunsany consists of signed and unsigned manuscripts, letters, photographs, clippings, and numerous published works of Lord Dunsany.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open to research under the terms of use of the Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in the Department of Archives and Special Collections may be subject to copyright. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, Loyola Marymount University does not claim ownership of the copyright of any materials in its collections. The user or publisher must secure permission to publish from the copyright owner. Loyola Marymount University does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or of publication rights held by the original author or artists or his/her heirs, assigns, or executors. The estate of Lord Dunsany retains all copyright and literary rights to his works.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Series number, Box and Folder number, The Willow Wray Collection of the Writings of Lord Dunsany, 004, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.

    Acquisition Information

    Loyola Marymount University (then Loyola University) purchased the collection in 1962 from Willow Wray, Lord Dunsany's literary agent. Accession Number: 1995.9

    Processing History

    Based on internal departmental documentation, it seems likely that Dr. Errol Stevens, then head of the Department of Archives and Special Collections, processed the collection, circa 1995.

    Lord Dunsany Biography

    The author and playwright Edward John Moreton Drax Plunket, better known as Lord Dunsany, deeply influenced the development of the literary genres of horror and fantasy. He was born in London in 1878 to Anglo-Irish family of Plunkett, lords of Dunsany Castle, in County Meath, northwest of Dublin, Ireland. The future Lord Dunsany was educated in public school at Eton, which seems to have been unpleasant for him, until the age of sixteen, when his father had him entered into Sandhurst, the British military academy, in 1896. Lord Dunsany graduated and entered British military service as an officer with the Coldstream Guards, serving in the Boer War and seeing action at such battles as Modder River. This took place in 1899, the same year that Lord Dunsany inherited Dunsany Castle on the death of his father.
    In 1901 Dunsany returned to civilian life. In 1904 he married Lady Beatrice Child-Villiers, whose father was the Earl of Jersey; the couple made Dunsany Castle their principal residence for the next twenty years. Randal Arthur Henry, the couple's first and only child, was born in 1906.
    Lord Dunsany settled down to the country life of an Anglo-Irish nobleman, but he had greater ambitions. In 1903, he had begun experimenting in writing in short stories. The end result was The Gods of Pegana, a collection of short stories concerning mythological gods and lands, both with a malevolent bent. In short Dunsany was creating, or at least helping to create, "sword and sorcery" fantasy. He had to pay for the publication of this first work, but The Gods of Pegana enjoyed strong enough sales that he never had to pay to publish his works again. Over the next decade he published six more books, all of which concerned mythological fantasy.
    In 1914, Lord Dunsany became a playwright with the production of his first play, at Dublin's famous Abbey Theatre, the one-act "The Glittering House." It was the first of many, for Dunsany continued to write plays through the 1930s. Ironically, his plays were more popular in the United States than they were in either England or Ireland.
    In World War I, Lord Dunsany re-joined the British Army, gaining the rank of captain with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. As a Unionist, he fought against the Irish Nationalists in the Dublin Uprising of 1916, and in the brutal trench warfare on the continent, Lord Dunsany saw combat at the Battle of the Somme that same year.
    After the war Lord Dunsany continued to write fantasy fiction and plays. His 1924 novel, The King of Elfland's Daughter, marked a notable entry in the field of fantasy fiction. He also wrote short stories related to themes in Irish culture, as well as pieces related to his experiences in World War I. The most important development in his writings was the creation of the character "Mr. Joseph Jorkens," who first appeared in 1931. Jorkens is a member of a London gentleman's club, and a raconteur who spins tales for other members, tales which have a more than a touch of fantasy and oddness.
    After World War II, Lord Dunsany's reputation declined, and he is best known today for his influence on such writers as H. P. Lovecraft and Arthur C. Clarke and their development of science fiction and horror genres. In short, Lord Dunsany is considered a minor writer, more important for his initial role in developing fantasy fiction, with correlative influence on other genres, especially science fiction and horror.
    Sources for this biography include:
    • Knepper, B. G. "Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Lord Dunsany (24 July-25 October 1957)." Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume 10 (Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1982): 152-162.
    • Wessells, Henry, "Lord Dunsany: Pioneer of Modern Fantasy." AB Bookman's Weekly 102, no. 16 (1988): 703-706.

    Chronology of Life of Lord Dunsany

    1878 Edward John Moreton Drax Plunket, Lord of Dunsany, born in London to Anglo-Irish family of Plunkett, owners of Dunsany Castle, in the County Meath, northwest of Dublin, Ireland.
    1896 Edward Plunkett (Lord Dunsany) enters Sandhurst.
    1899 Edward Plunkett inherits title "Lord Dunsany" on death of his father, John Edward, Lord of Dunsany.
    1899 Lord Dunsany serves in Boer War with the Coldstream Guards as an officer.
    1904 Marries Lady Beatrice Child-Villiers.
    1905 His first collection of fantasy fiction, The Gods of Pegana, published.
    1909 The Glittering Gate, his first play, performed in the Abbey Theatre of Dublin.
    1912 His Book of Wonder, a collection of fantasy short stories, published.
    circa 1916-1918 Serves in the trenches of World War I as captain in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
    1922 His novel Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley published.
    1924 His novel The King of Elfland's Daughter published.
    1931 His Travel Tales of Jorken published.
    1957 Lord Dunsany dies.

    Collection Description

    The collection consists of signed and unsigned manuscripts, letters, photographs, clippings, and numerous published works of Lord Dunsany.


    The collection is divided into the following series:
    • 1. Short Stories, Plays, Essays
    • 2. Poems
    • 3. Book Materials: "Another Year"
    • 4. Correspondence
    • 5. Photographs of Lord Dunsany
    • 6. Clippings

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    English Literature
    Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron, 1878-1957
    Authors, Irish -- 20th century
    Fantasy fiction, English -- Irish authors -- 20th century
    Mythologists -- 20th century

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