May 27, 2022

Author JP Donleavy’s Archive Donated to National Library of Ireland

From the National Library of Ireland:

We are delighted to have received the archive of the internationally renowned, award-winning Irish American author JP Donleavy. The author’s archive is wide-ranging, comprising notebooks, manuscripts, playscripts, letters, theatrical posters and programmes, as well as first editions of the author’s work.

A son of Irish immigrants, Donleavy was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1926, before moving to Ireland in 1946, having served in the US navy during World War 2. Following time spent studying at Trinity College Dublin, he turned to writing full-time. Donleavy became an Irish citizen at the end of the 1960s and lived in Westmeath until his death in 2017. In 2015, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, and in 2016 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Letters (Litt.D) by Trinity College Dublin.

Donleavy is best-known for his novel ‘The Ginger Man’, which was first published in France in 1955.  Banned in Ireland on the grounds of obscenity, the book went on to be published in two dozen languages, selling in the region of 50 million copies, and has never been out of print. Today, Donleavy has a worldwide readership in the tens of millions, and is also considered a successful painter and playwright.

Spanning 300 boxes, the donated archive reveals a fascinating career that has spanned decades.

Highlights include:

  • A typescript draft of ‘The Ginger Man’ from 1951, with various notes by Brendan Behan, bringing together two of Ireland’s most fascinating literary figures of the mid-20th century;
  • A notebook with diary entries, including a note of a meeting with author Muriel Spark;
  • A programme for the 1959 Gaiety production of ‘The Ginger Man’, starring Richard Harris;
  • Correspondence with a wide range of friends and acquaintances, including from his schooldays in New York, his years in TCD, from the worlds of literature and art, and many from theatre and film such as Billy Connolly and Pamela Stephenson, Susan Hampshire, George Roy Hill, Malcolm McDowell, Sam Wanamaker and Susannah York.

Read the Complete Announcement

See Also: JP Donleavy’s Vast Archive Left to the National Library of Ireland (via The Irish Times)

See Also: Listen Online: JP Donleavy on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs (March 9, 2007)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.