(ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.) – Colm Tóibín, the acclaimed Irish writer and author of numerous award-winning novels, short stories, plays and essays, will speak about his work with Fintan O’Toole, a leading Irish editor, writer, and critic, in the Lásló Z. Bitó ’60 Auditorium (Room 103) of the Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Center for Science and Computation at Bard College on Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 5:30 p.m. A reception will follow the lecture. The event is free and open to the public.
Hailed by the New York Times as “a beautiful and daring work” and by the New York Review of Books as “subversive and ruthless,” Tóibín’s critically praised novella The Testament of Mary transforms the Virgin Mary from a holy icon into an emotionally real woman. Originally written as a monologue and performed by Tony Award-winner Marie Mullen in the Dublin Theater Festival in 2011, the novella has been adapted into a full-length Broadway play by the author. The Broadway production of The Testament of Mary stars renowned actress Fiona Shaw and her longtime collaborator, the director Deborah Warner (Medea, 2002) and opens on March 26 at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
Tóibín’s talk is under the auspieces of Bard’s annual Eugene Meyer Lecture in British History and Literature. This dedicated annual lecture was established in 2011 to commemorate Eugene Meyer (1875–1959), the owner and publisher of the Washington Post, chairman of the Federal Reserve, and first president of the World Bank. The lecture is presented in association with the endowment of the Eugene Meyer Chair in British History and Literature at Bard College. Professor Richard Aldous holds the Eugene Meyer Chair.
Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel The South (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/Aer Lingus First Fiction Award) and Homage to Barcelona, both published in 1990.
When he returned to Ireland in 1978 he worked as a journalist for In Dublin, Hibernia and The Sunday Tribune, becoming features editor of In Dublin in 1981 and editor of Magill, Ireland’s current affairs magazine, in 1982. He left Magill in 1985 and travelled in Africa and South America. His journalism from the 1980s was collected in The Trial of the Generals (1990). His other work as a journalist and travel writer includes Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border (1987) and The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe (1994).
His other novels are: The Heather Blazing (1992, winner of the Encore Award); The Story of the Night (1996, winner of the Ferro-Grumley Prize); The Blackwater Lightship (1999, shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Prize and the Booker Prize and made into a film starring Angela Lansbury); The Master (2004, winner of the Dublin IMPAC Prize; the Prix du Meilleur Livre; the LA Times Novel of the Year; and shortlisted for the Booker Prize); Brooklyn (2009, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year).
His short story collections are Mothers and Sons (2006, winner of the Edge Hill Prize) and The Empty Family (2010, shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize). His play Beauty in a Broken Place was performed at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin in 2004. His other books include: The Modern Library: the 200 Best Novels Since 1950 (with Carmen Callil); Lady Gregory’s Toothbrush (2002); Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar (2002) and All a Novelist Needs: Essays on Henry James (2010).
He has edited The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction. His work has been translated into 30 languages. In 2008, a book of essays on his work Reading Colm Tóibín, edited by Paul Delaney, was published.
He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster and from University College Dublin. He is a regular contributor to the Dublin Review, New York Review of Books, and London Review of Books. In 2006 he was appointed to the Arts Council in Ireland.
He has twice been Stein Visiting Writer at Stanford University and has also been a visiting writer at the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He also taught at Princeton between 2009 and 2011, and was professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester in the autumn of 2011. He is currently Mellon Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.
In 2011 his play Testament, directed by Garry Hynes, was performed in the Dublin Theatre Festival with Marie Mullen in the lead role. Also in 2011, his memoir A Guest at the Feast was published by Penguin UK as a Kindle original. In 2012 his new collection of essays, New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers & Their Families was published.
Fintan O’Toole, the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Visiting Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton for Spring 2012, is one of Ireland’s leading public intellectuals. He has served as a drama critic for The Irish Times, New York Daily News, Sunday Tribune (Dublin), and In Dublin magazine. His books on theater span a wide range of topics, from his biography of Richard Brinsley Sheridan to whatever is now appearing on Irish stages. He is currently assistant editor, columnist and feature writer for The Irish Times. He also contributes to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, and other international publications. In 2011, O’Toole was named one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals’ by The Observer. He has received the A.T. Cross Award for Supreme Contribution to Irish Journalism, the Millennium Social Inclusion Award, and Journalist of the Year in 2010 from TV3 Media Awards.
Eugene Meyer (1875–1959) was an American financier, influential leader in American political and social life, and publisher of the Washington Post from 1933 to 1946. After graduating from Yale University in 1895, he worked at Lazard Freres banking house in New York, and in 1901 bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. By 1917 he had made a personal fortune by focusing on investments in the copper, gold, automobile, and chemical industries. He developed a reputation on Wall Street as a solid manager of investment funds and as an innovator. His firm pioneered the use of a research department—scientific investing—to perform detailed economic analyses of businesses. He had a great sense of public duty, and served at the Versailles Peace Conference, on the Federal Farm Loan Board, at the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and, from 1930, as chairman of the Federal Reserve. In 1933, Meyer left the political world and purchased the Washington Post. He returned to public service during World War II to serve on the National Defense Mediation Board, and after the war planned to spend the rest of his career at the Washington Post. However, in 1946 President Truman asked him to head the World Bank, and Meyer accepted. He held the post for six months, establishing the World Bank, before returning to his work at the Washington Post until his death in 1959.