Born in the Irish village of Tuamgraney in a family with strong Catholic roots, Edna O’Brien is regarded as one of most renowned writers of her generation. She left Ireland in the fifties to settle in London, where she lives today. In her long career, she has received major literary awards, like the Kingsley Amis Award in 1960 for The Country Girls, the first chapter of a trilogy that includes The Lonely Girl (1962), and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964). The Country Girls, written in just three months, is strongly autobiographical and caused quite a scandal: the book was burnt on the church plazas for speaking, for the first time, about a new generation of women who claimed the right to live and speak freely about their sexuality. In 1981 she wrote a theatral work about Virginia Woolf’s life, Virginia, performed first in Canada, then in London and New York. Other biographies by O’Brien include a Joyce’s biography (1999) and Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life (2009).
The Italian public has come to know O’Brien, thanks to the recent reprinting of her autobiography (2013) and the publication last year of Down by the River, a novel that O’Brien wrote in 1996, inspired by the sensational chronicle of “Miss X case”. She is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.