Denis Donoghue (academic)

Denis Donoghue (born 1928) is an Irish literary critic. He is the Henry James Chair of English and American Letters at New York University.[1]

Life and career

Donoghue was born at Tullow, County Carlow, into a Roman Catholic family, and was brought up in Warrenpoint, County Down, Northern Ireland, where his father was sergeant-in-charge of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. He was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers in Newry, County Down.[2]

He studied Latin and English at University College Dublin, earning a bachelor of arts degree in 1949, an M.A. in 1952, a Ph.D. in 1957, and a D.Litt. (honoris causa) in 1989.; and then at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He earned a M.A. at the University of Cambridge in 1964, and returned to Dublin, becoming a professor at UCD.[3] Since the late 1970s he has been a professor at New York University.

He married Frances Rutledge ; the couple has eight children, including Emma (born 1969), an Irish-Canadian novelist, literary historian, teacher, playwright, radio and film scriptwriter.

On December 7, 2018, Donoghue married his longtime partner of over twenty years, Melissa Malouf. Malouf is a professor at Duke University.


  • The Third Voice: Modern British and American Verse Drama (1959)
  • The Integrity of Yeats (1964) editor
  • An Honoured Guest - New Essays on W.B. Yeats (1965) editor with J. R. Mulryne
  • Connoisseurs of Chaos: Ideas of Order in Modern American Poetry (1965)
  • The Ordinary Universe: Soundings in Modern Literature (1968) criticism
  • Swift Revisited (1968) editor, Thomas Davis Lectures, with Roger McHugh, Matthew Hodgart, Mark Kinkead-Weekes and John Holloway
  • Emily Dickinson (1969)
  • Jonathan Swift: A Critical Introduction (1969) editor
  • Jonathan Swift, Penguin Critical Anthologies (1971) editor
  • Yeats (Fontana Modern Masters, 1971)
  • W. B. Yeats, Memoirs (1972) editor
  • Thieves of Fire (1973) T.S. Eliot Memorial Lectures.
  • Seven American Poets from MacLeish to Nemerov (1975) essays on John Berryman, Richard Eberhart, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Archibald MacLeish, Howard Nemerov and Theodore Roethke
  • The Sovereign Ghost: Studies in Imagination (1976)
  • Ferocious Alphabets (1981) criticism
  • The Politics of Modern Criticism (1981)
  • The Arts Without Mystery (1983) 1982 Reith Lectures
  • Creation and Interpretation (1984) with William Barrett, Richard Wollheim
  • R. P. Blackmur, Selected Essays (1986) editor
  • We Irish : Essays on Irish Literature & Society (1986)
  • Reading America: Essays on American Literature (1987)
  • America in Theory (1988) editor with Leslie Berlowitz and Louis Menand
  • England their England: Commentaries on English Language and Literature (1988)
  • Warrenpoint (1990) memoirs
  • The Pure Good Of Theory (1992) Bucknell Lectures in Literary Theory
  • Who Says What and The Question of Voice (1992) Princess Grace Irish Library Lectures
  • The Old Moderns,: Essays on Literature and Theory (1994)
  • Walter Pater: Lover of Strange Souls (1995) biography
  • Henry James Complete Stories, 1898-1910 (1997) editor
  • Practice Of Reading (1998)
  • Words Alone : The Poet T. S. Eliot (2000)
  • Adam's Curse: Reflections on Religion and Literature (2001)
  • Speaking of Beauty (2003)
  • The American Classics (2005)
  • On Eloquence (2008)
  • Warrenpoint (2013)
  • Metaphor (2014)


In 1982 the BBC invited Donoghue to present its annual Reith Lectures. Across six lectures, called The Arts Without Mystery, he discussed how society's rationalisation of art was destroying its mystery.[4][5]



  • Knight, Christopher J. (2003). Uncommon Readers: Denis Donoghue, Frank Kermode, George Steiner, and the Tradition of the Common Reader. ISBN 0802087981.
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