10 Best Irish Authors and their Fiction

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, check out this mixture of Irish authors, old and new, who have brought great literature into the world.  And may you have the luck to find their books and enjoy them!


Bram Stoker (1847-1912)—Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula became one of the most well-known horror classics of all time, and the pre-eminent vampire novel (sorry, Twilight Saga).  Its original title was The Un-Dead.

Other notable books: The Lady of the Shroud, The Lair of the White Worm

“I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear; I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul. God keep me, if only for the sake of those dear to me.”

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)—Wilde’s plays continue to be popular, and his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, remains a staple of school reading lists.  He was controversial in his time, and spent two years in prison for his unconventional lifestyle.

Other notable books: The Ballad of Reading Gaol, The Importance of Being Earnest

“When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind.”


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)—Shaw wrote over sixty plays.  He’s the only author to have won both a Nobel Prize for Literature and an Oscar (for the screenplay for Pygmalion).  He was an outspoken socialist, a member of the eugenics movement, and a vegetarian.

Other notable books: The Devil’s Disciple, Major Barbara, Saint Joan

 “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.


James Joyce (1882-1941)—Joyce took his time in creating his final two masterworks.  Ulysses took seven years to complete, and Finnegan’s Wake was seventeen years in the making.  Bloomsday, a walk through the streets of Dublin based on Ulysses character Leopold Bloom’s one-day perambulations, occurs annually on June 16.

Other notable books: Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.”


C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)—The seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia are loved by readers of all ages.  Lewis and his buddy J.R.R. Tolkien, along with a few other writer pals, were known as “The Inklings” and met regularly at the Eagle and Child and other pubs to drink, smoke, and critique each other’s work.

Other notable books: Perelandra, The Screwtape Letters

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

Edna O’Brien (1936-  )—Although O’Brien left Ireland shortly after the publication of her first novel, The Country Girls, caused an uproar, she is still considered to be a very Irish writer.  Her specialty is the short story.

Other notable books: In the Forest, The Light of the Evening

 “When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.”

William Trevor (1940-  )—Trevor has won the Whitbread Prize three times and the O. Henry Award four times, and is a five-time Booker Prize nominee.  He’s written several novels, but is best known for his short stories. 

Notable books: Fools of Fortune, Felicia’s Journey, After Rain

“The same applies to any artist; we are the tools and instruments of our talent. We are outsiders; we have no place in society because society is what we’re watching, and dealing with.”

Maeve Binchy (1940-2012)—Popular and prolific novelist Binchy had just completed her final novel, A Week in Winter, when she died last year.  The book was just published in the U.S.  Her 1998 novel Tara Road was an Oprah book club pick.

Other notable books: The Copper Beech, Circle of Friends

“An intelligent man like you would know that to live in an unrealistic hope is a very foolish way to spend a life.”

 Emma Donoghue (1969-  )—Donoghue had written six novels, in addition to plays and short story collections, when her 2010 novel Room became a critically-acclaimed international bestseller.  She was born in Dublin, but now lives in Canada. 

Other notable books: Slammerkin, Astray

“People don’t always want to be with people. It gets tiring.”

Tana French (1973-  )—French, an actress as well as a writer, is a U.S. citizen but has lived in Ireland since 1990.  Her first novel, In the Woods (2007), won the Edgar Award for Best Mystery.

Other notable books: The Likeness, Broken Harbour

“When you’re too close to people, when you spend too much time with them and love them too dearly, sometimes you can’t see them.”

Who are your favorite Irish Authors? — Steve

Steve is Staffing & Development Manager (aka the “Buy Guy”) at Half Price Books Corporate.

2 thoughts on “10 Best Irish Authors and their Fiction

  1. Good selections, but why no poets, and only a handful of modern authors? Emma Donoghue is awesome, however! What about Colm Toibin, Colum McCann, Seamus Heaney, Jennifer Johnson?

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