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Robert Brennan: Biographical Note

Backup information on Robert Brennan, from Robert Brennan and Maeve Brennan Papers in Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library, March 2002, copied here for archival purposes only.


Biographical Note

Robert Brennan was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1881. Brennan was trained as a
surveyor and was employed in the early part of his career as a surveyor with the Wexford County
Council. He subsequently became a journalist and joined the staff of the Enniscorthy Echo.

Brennan was active in local and national politics. He helped organize militia volunteers
in Wexford and was quartermaster of the local Brigade. He participated in the 1916 Rising and
was sentenced to death; the sentence was commuted, however, and Brennan was imprisoned
briefly in Dartmoor Prison. Following his release from prison, Brennan continued his political
activity, which resulted in a second imprisonment in Cork Jail in 1917.

By 1918 Brennan was active with organizers for Sinn Fein and was Director of Elections
in the 1918 General Election. Brennan was arrested and imprisoned once more in 1920, but his
political career continued to flourish. Following service as Irish Under-Secretary for Foreign
Affairs, he became director of publicity for the Republican Forces during the Irish Civil War.

Brennan helped found The Irish Press and served as general manager from 1930 until
1934, when he was appointed Secretary to the Irish Legation in Washington. In 1938 Brennan
was appointed Charge d’Affaires and in August of that year became Irish Minister in
Washington. In 1947 Brennan returned to Ireland to assume the position of Director of
Broadcasting at Radio Eirann. Brennan retired from that position in 1948.

Following his retirement Brennan wrote extensively and produced fiction, including
novels, short stories, and mysteries, plays, and essays. Brennan’s best-known works include the
novel The Man Who Walked Like a Dancer (1951), and the play Good Night Mr. O’Donnell
(1951). Brennan’s autobiography Allegiance, was published in 1950. Much of Brennan’s writing
remains unpublished. Robert Brennan died in Ireland in 1964.

Maeve Brennan was born in Dublin, Ireland, on January 6, 1917. She moved to the
United States when her father, Robert Brennan, was appointed Secretary to the Irish Legation in
1934. During the 1940s Brennan worked for Harper’s Bazaar and subsequently joined the staff
of The New Yorker. She was married to her fellow New Yorker writer St. Clair McKelway, but
the marriage ended in divorce.

Brennan wrote a substantial number of stories, essays, and short casual pieces which were
published in The New Yorker, often under the pen name “The Long-Winded Lady.” Brennan had
several collections of her stories published including In and Out of Never-Never Land (1969),
The Long-Winded Lady (1969), and Christmas Eve (1974). Maeve Brennan died in New York
City in 1993.

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