'Writing is not an easy job': Author Edna O'Brien hurt when first book banned in Ireland

Celebrated author Edna O’Brien has admitted that the banning of her first novel in Ireland on its publication in 1960 hurt her “because writing is not an easy job.”

Her The Country Girls trilogy has been chosen as Dublin’s One City, One Book representative for this year. It will feature in celebrations throughout the city from April.

“When I sat down to write The Country Girls in a room in London on my children's windowsill I realised I was as lonely as a bird,” she told RTE’s News at One.

“I had wanted to leave Ireland, I felt constricted, I knew without knowing that to write The Country Girls I would have people looking over my shoulder, it's hard enough to do it, believe you me with just yourself looking over your shoulder.

She acknowledged that the trilogy was not celebrated on its publication. “It was not celebrated, whatever the opposite word to celebration is, that's what it got - sticks and stones and cudgels.

“It hurt me because writing is not an easy job and the one thing is, the primary thing is, you write alone and therefore you would like or dream of a bit of support, and to not only not have support, but to be blamed for what seemed to other people unjustifiably a crime, is not great.

“What it made me feel is how frightened people are, were, to some extent of the truthful written word.

Ms O’Brien said that she is pleased that a new generation will now get to read the trilogy. “Now comes the time when people won't tell me that they had to buy this book 'up North' and they had to read under the sheets, it was read furtively, covered in brown paper.

“I want young audiences for my own sake and for life's sake. Whatever else the book has, it has feeling.”


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