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Mary Lavin

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Mary Lavin (10 June 1912 – 25 March 1996) was a noted Irish short story writer and novelist. She is regarded as a pioneering female author in the traditionally male-dominated world of Irish letters. Born in Massachusetts of Irish parents in 1912, Mary Lavin first visited Ireland at the age of four with her mother Nora. She would return, permanently this time, five years later.

Lavin’s début collection of stories, Tales from Bective Bridge (1943) won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, and marked her out as a short-story writer of brilliance who brought a new and piercing female perspective to that form. The subject matter of her work was often controversial, dealing with matters including abuse in the Roman Catholic Church and feminist issues. In both respects, Lavin was an author very far ahead of her time.

Mary Lavin’s work received numerous international awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Katherine Mansfield Prize. Many of her stories were first published in the prestigious New Yorker. Joyce Carol Oates called her one of the finest short-story writers of the twentieth century.

New Island published Happiness and other Stories as part of our Modern Irish Classics collection in 2011.