Lord Dunsany Biography
Title: Addendum to the Willow Wray Collection of the Writings of
Identifier/Call Number: 005
Loyola Marymount University, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library
Language of Material:
2.0 document boxes
.8 linear feet. Letters, typescripts of plays, poems, short stories, and essays of Lord Dunsany. 3 reel-to-reel tapes of
Lord Dunsany reading his plays and poems.
Date (inclusive): 1952-1959
The Addendum to the Willow Wray Collection of the Writings of Lord Dunsany consists of poems, essays, short stories, and reel-to-reel
tape recordings of the Anglo-Irish author Lord Dunsany (1878-1957).
Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Lord, Baron, 1878-1957
Wray, Fay, 1907-2004
The Addendum to the Willow Wray Collection of the Writings of Lord Dunsany consists of four series, based on type of literature
authored by Lord Dunsany and in one case, the format on which Lord Dunsany's works are recorded:
- Series 1: Short Stories, Plays, Essays
- This series consists of short stories, poems, and other literary works by Lord Dunsany. The manuscripts are all typescript,
except for two holographs, and undated. Some are annotated, some signed, and some are both annotated and signed by Lord Dunsany.
- Series 2: Poems
- This series consists of typescript and holograph poems of Lord Dunsany. Some poems are signed, some may have been unpublished.
- Series 3: Letters
- Letters from Lord Dunsany to his agent in California, Willow Wray, make up this series.
- Series 4: Tape Recordings of Lord Dunsany Reading
- Three reel-to-reel tapes of Lord Dunsany reading from his poems and other works make up this series.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron, 1878-1957
Authors, Irish -- 20th century
Fantasy fiction, English -- Irish authors -- 20th century
Mythologists -- 20th century
Lord Dunsany Biography
The work of the author and playwright Edward John Moreton Drax Plunket, better known as Lord Dunsany, is considered one of
the key influences on 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,
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
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
||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.
||Edward Plunkett (Lord Dunsany) enters Sandhurst.
||Edward Plunkett inherits title "Lord Dunsany" on death of his father, John Edward, Lord of Dunsany.
||Lord Dunsany serves in Boer War with the Coldstream Guards as an officer.
|| Marries Lady Beatrice Child-Villiers.
||His first collection of fantasy fiction,
The Gods of Pegana, published.
The Glittering Gate, his first play, performed in the Abbey Theatre of Dublin.
Book of Wonder, a collection of fantasy short stories, published.
|| Serves in the trenches of World War I as captain in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
|| His novel
Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley published.
|| His novel
The King of Elfland's Daughter published.
Travel Tales of Jorken published.
||Lord Dunsany dies.
This collection consists of signed and unsigned manuscripts that Lord Dunsany authored, including poems, essays, plays, and
correspondence. Much of the material is typescript, while some, eg, the correspondence, is written in Lord Dunsany's own hand.
Of special interest are the reel-to-reel tapes of Lord Dunsany reading his own poems and plays (Series 4).
Library, Loyola Marymount University.
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 literary and copyrights related to his works.
Loyola University purchased these materials from the actress
Fay Wray in 1965. Fay Wray's sister, Willow Wray, was the literar agent of Lord Dunsany in California. Accession Number: 1995.10.
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.