This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for September 17, 2016: Riveted

Sep. 17, 2016: birthday: Frank O’Connor

It’s the birthday of the Irish writer Frank O’Connor (1903) (books by this author), the pen name of Michael O’Donovan, born in Cork. He was best known for his short stories, but he also wrote plays, poems, novels, and memoirs. He decided to be a writer at a young age. He told the Paris Review, “From the time I was nine or ten, it was a toss-up whether I was going to be a writer or a painter, and I discovered by the time I was sixteen or seventeen that paints cost too much money, so I became a writer because you could be a writer with a pencil and a penny notebook.” His parents couldn’t afford to send him to college, but he made ample use of libraries to educate himself. He joined the Irish Republican Army while still a teenager, went to prison after a year of living as a homeless fugitive, and then got a library job and started writing. He later worked as director of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and as a broadcaster for the British Ministry of Information during World War II. He spent several years in America, teaching by invitation at a succession of colleges and universities, but he always went home to Ireland at least once a year. He claimed he would die if he didn’t.