The Anglo-Irish Collection reflects the research and personal interests of Dr. Francis J. Thompson, whose library was donated to Special Collections by his wife Marjorie after his death in 1989. The materials mainly encompass Irish history, literature, politics and art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a focus on Fenianism and the Irish Literary Revival — the topic of Dr. Thompson’s doctoral dissertation from NYU.
The collection has many items autographed by their authors, including a book of poetry by W.B. Yeats, a collection of translations by Douglas Hyde [the first President of the Irish Free State], and an assortment of books written by infamous Fenians: James Stephens, John O’Leary, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa and P.S. O’Hegarty among them.
There are also numerous items of interest to those studying the Irish language and its attempted revival at the end of the 19th century. There are bilingual volumes of poetry, and editions of turn-of-the-century journals devoted to the promotion of the Irish language, literature and customs. For example, there is a bound collection of various copies of the Irish Fireside ; first published in 1883, this served as a literary supplement to The Weekly Freeman, and had as its goal the fostering of native talents, especially among children.
Irish Fireside is an extremely rare and difficult-to-find item, and is full of fascinating contributions from all walks of life. Included in each issue are serial novelizations, political essays, historical and philological studies, cartoons, poetry, and even a ‘Gossip’ column. Although the goal of the magazine was to encourage artistic growth in Gaelic Ireland, the majority of contributions are in English. The idea being: even if you must speak their language, stop imitating the English.
There are also a number of first-edition, autographed volumes of poetry by W.B. Yeats, Seumas O’Sullivan, and Denis Devin, as well as autographed prose works by Liam O’Flaherty, Benedict Kiely and Jack B. Yeats. Various artistic plates are in the collection as well, including a very small work by Jack B. Yeats.
If this period of Irish history is of interest, Special and Digital Collections also houses the private papers, journals, and correspondence of Dr. Francis J. Thompson. Included in his collection are numerous lectures, essays and articles written about Fenianism and the Irish Literary Revival. There are also a series of interview notes from 1936, while Dr. Thompson doing research in Ireland for his dissertation. These are candid interviews with well-known literary figures, radicals and journalists such as Maud Gonne, Lennox Robinson, Seumas O’Sullivan, and P.S. O’Hegarty. A bound copy of Dr. Thompson’s dissertation, “Fenianism and the Celtic Renaissance” is also available. This collection will be growing in the future, thanks to generous donations from Dr. Thompson’s children, Sally and John.