Joseph O'Neill

Hero Who Blew It

No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O'Brien


Grafton 260pp £16.95 order from our bookshop

Flann O’Brien, Myles na Gopaleen, John James Doe, Brother Barnabas: behind these anonyms lurked a small, insecure and disappointed Dubliner whose name people kept getting wrong: Brian O’Nolan, or Nolan or 0 Nualliin. No one is quite sure who he was or exactly what he did; what is certain, however, is that this Mr X, this nobody, now enjoys a reputation, as the poet Anthony Cronin puts it, of being ‘one of the funniest writers to use the English language in this century.’ This long-awaited biography by Cronin, an old drinking buddy of O’Nolan, is the first full-length study of the man behind the masks.

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