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Collection Number: 11057-z

Collection Title: Denis Johnston Letters, 1972-1974

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


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Size 7 items
Abstract (William) Denis Johnston (18 June 1901-8 August 1984) was an Irish writer. Born in Dublin, he wrote mostly plays, but also produced literary criticism and other works. The collection consists of seven letters and postcards from Denis Johnston to Margaret Anne O'Connor (Maggie), who taught the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's first course on women in literature (1972) and helped form the University's Women's Studies curriculum. Letters in 1972 and 1973 were from Johnston in Walla Walla, Wash.; 1974 letters were from Dublin, Ireland; and there is a 1974 postcard from Crete. Topics include visits paid and general friendship. There is also mention of a Samuel Beckett symposium in Chapel Hill at which Johnston was ultimately not invited to speak.
Creator Johnston, Denis, 1901-1984.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Denis Johnston Letters #11057-z, Rare Book Literary and Historical Papers, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Transferred from the Rare Book Collection in 1999 (Acc. 98294).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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(William) Denis Johnston (18 June 1901-8 August 1984) was an Irish writer. Born in Dublin, he wrote mostly plays, but also works of literary criticism, a book-length biographical essay on Jonathan Swift, a memoir, and a work of philosophy. He also worked as a war correspondent and as both a radio and television producer for the BBC. His first play, The Old Lady Says No!, helped establish the reputation of the Dublin Gate Theatre; his second, The Moon in the Yellow River, has been widely performed.

Johnston was a protege of W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw; he had a stormy friendship with Sean O'Casey. He was a pioneer of television and war reporting. He worked as a lawyer in the 1920s and 1930s before joining the BBC as a writer and producer, first in radio and then in the fledgling television service. During World War II, he served as a BBC war correspondent, reporting from El Alamein to Buchenwald. For this, he was awarded an OBE 1945. He then became Director of Programmes for the television service.

Johnston later moved to the United States and taught at Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and other universities. He kept extensive diaries throughout his life (now deposited in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin). He received honorary degrees from the University of Ulster and Mount Holyoke College and was a member of Aosdana, which was established by the Irish Arts Council in 1981 to honor artists whose work had made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland.

(Note adapted from Wikipedia and other web posts viewed in July 2012.)

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The collection consists of seven letters and postcards from Denis Johnston to Margaret Anne O'Connor (Maggie), who taught the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's first course on women in literature (1972) and helped form the University's Women's Studies curriculum. Letters in 1972 and 1973 were from Johnston in Walla Walla, Wash.; 1974 letters were from Dublin, Ireland; and there is a 1974 postcard from Crete. Topics include visits paid and general friendship. There is also mention of a Samuel Beckett symposium in Chapel Hill at which Johnston was ultimately not invited to speak.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff

Encoded by: Roslyn Holdzkom, July 2012

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