Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany

Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany (/dʌnˈsni/; 24 July 1878 – 25 October 1957), was an Anglo-Irish writer and dramatist; his work, mostly in the fantasy genre, was published under the name Lord Dunsany. More than ninety books of his work were published in his lifetime,[1]:29 (I.A.92) and both original work and compilations have continued to appear. Dunsany's œuvre includes many hundreds of published short stories, as well as plays, novels and essays. He achieved great fame and success with his early short stories and plays, and during the 1910s was considered one of the greatest living writers of the English-speaking world; he is today best known for his 1924 fantasy novel The King of Elfland's Daughter. He was the inventor of an asymmetric version of chess called Dunsany's Chess.

The Lord Dunsany
BornEdward John Moreton Drax Plunkett
(1878-07-24)24 July 1878
London, England
Died25 October 1957(1957-10-25) (aged 79)
Dublin, Ireland
OccupationWriter (short story writer, playwright, novelist, poet)
NationalityIrish, British
GenreCrime, high fantasy, horror, science fiction, weird fiction
Notable worksEarly short story collections, The King of Elfland's Daughter

Born and raised in London, to the second-oldest title (created 1439) in the Irish peerage, Dunsany lived much of his life at what may be Ireland's longest-inhabited house, Dunsany Castle near Tara, worked with W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, received an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin, was chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland, and travelled and hunted extensively. He died in Dublin after an attack of appendicitis.


Early life

Edward Plunkett (Dunsany), known to his family as "Eddie," was the first son of John William Plunkett, 17th Baron of Dunsany (1853–1899), and his wife, Ernle Elizabeth Louisa Maria Grosvenor Ernle-Erle-Drax, née Ernle Elizabeth Louisa Maria Grosvenor Burton (1855–1916).[2]

From a historically wealthy and famous family, Lord Dunsany was related to many well-known Irish figures. He was a kinsman of the Catholic Saint Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh, whose ring and crozier head are still held by the Dunsany family. He was also related to the prominent Anglo-Irish unionist, and later nationalist / Home Rule politician Sir Horace Plunkett, and George Count Plunkett, Papal Count and Republican politician, father of Joseph Plunkett, executed for his part in the 1916 Rising.

His mother was a cousin of Sir Richard Burton, and he inherited from her considerable height, being 6' 4". The Countess of Fingall, wife of Dunsany's cousin, the Earl of Fingall, wrote a best-selling account of the life of the aristocracy in Ireland in the late 19th century and early 20th century, called Seventy Years Young.

Plunkett's only grown sibling, a younger brother, from whom he was estranged from around 1916, for reasons not fully clear but connected to his mother's will, was the noted British naval officer Sir Reginald Drax. Another, younger, brother died in infancy.

Edward Plunkett grew up at the family properties, most notably Dunstall Priory in Shoreham, Kent, and Dunsany Castle in County Meath, but also family homes such as in London. His schooling was at Cheam, Eton College and finally the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, which he entered in 1896.

Title and marriage

The title passed to him at his father's death at a fairly young age, in 1899, and the young Lord Dunsany returned to Dunsany Castle after war duty, in 1901. In that year he was also confirmed as an elector for the Representative Peers for Ireland in the House of Lords.

In 1903, he met Lady Beatrice Child Villiers (1880–1970), youngest daughter of The 7th Earl of Jersey (head of the Jersey banking family), who was then living at Osterley Park, and they were married in 1904. Their only child, Randal, was born in 1906. Beatrice was supportive of Dunsany's interests, and assisted him in his writing, typing his manuscripts, helping to select work for his collections, including the 1954 retrospective short story collection, and overseeing his literary heritage after his death.

The Dunsanys were socially active in both Dublin and London, and travelled between their homes in Meath, London and Kent, other than during World Wars I and II, and the Irish War of Independence. Dunsany himself circulated with many other literary figures of the time. To many of these in Ireland he was first introduced by his uncle, the co-operative pioneer Sir Horace Plunkett, who also helped to manage his estate and investments for a time. He was friendly with, for example, George William Russell, Oliver St. John Gogarty and, for a time, W. B. Yeats. He also socialised at times with George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells and was a friend of Rudyard Kipling.

In 1910 Dunsany commissioned a two-storey extension to Dunsany Castle, with a billiards room, bedrooms and other facilities. The billiards room includes the crests of all the Lords Dunsany up to the 18th.

Military experience

Dunsany served as a Second Lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards during the Second Boer War.

He volunteered in the First World War, and was appointed Captain in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was stationed for some time at Ebrington Barracks in Derry. Having heard of disturbances in Dublin in 1916, during the Easter Rising, while on leave, he drove in to offer assistance and was wounded, with a bullet lodged in his skull.[3][4] After recovery at Jervis Street Hospital, and later what was then the King George V Hospital (now St. Bricin's Military Hospital), he returned to duty. His military belt was lost in this episode and was later used at the burial of Michael Collins. Having been refused forward positioning in 1916, being listed as valuable as a trainer, in the latter stages of the war he spent time in the trenches, and in the very last period wrote propaganda material for the War Office with MI7b(1). At Dunsany Castle there is a book of wartime photos with lost members of his command marked.

During the Second World War, Dunsany signed up for the Irish Army Reserve and the British Home Guard, the two countries' local defence forces, and was especially active in Shoreham, Kent, the most-bombed village in England during the Battle of Britain.

Literary life

Dunsany's fame arose chiefly from his prolific writings, and he was involved with the Irish Literary Revival. Supporting the Revival, Dunsany was a major donor to the Abbey Theatre, and he moved in Irish literary circles. He was well-acquainted with W. B. Yeats (who rarely acted as editor, but gathered and published a Dunsany selection), Lady Gregory, Percy French, "AE" Russell, Oliver St John Gogarty, Padraic Colum (with whom he jointly wrote a play) and others. He befriended and supported Francis Ledwidge to whom he gave the use of his library[5] and Mary Lavin.

Dunsany made his first literary tour to the United States in 1919, and made further such visits right up to the 1950s, in the early years mostly to the eastern seaboard, later notably to California.

Dunsany's own work, and contribution to the Irish literary heritage, was recognised through an honorary degree from Trinity College, Dublin.

Early 1940s

In 1940, Dunsany was appointed Byron Professor of English in Athens University, Greece. Having reached Athens by a circuitous route, he was so successful that he was offered a post as Professor of English in Istanbul. However, he had to be evacuated due to the German invasion of Greece in April 1941, returning home by an even more complex route than he had come on, his travels forming a basis for a long poem published in book form (A Journey, in 5 cantos: The Battle of Britain, The Battle of Greece, The Battle of the Mediterranean, Battles Long Ago, The Battle of the Atlantic; Special edition January 1944). Olivia Manning's character, "Lord Pinkrose", in her novel sequence, the Fortunes of War, was a mocking portrait of Dunsany during this period.[6][7]

Later life

In 1947, Dunsany transferred his Meath estate to his son and heir under a trust, and settled in Kent, at his Shoreham house, Dunstall Priory and farm, not far from the home of Rudyard Kipling, a friend. He visited Ireland only occasionally thereafter, and engaged actively in life in Shoreham and London. He also began a new period of visits to the United States, notably California, as recounted in Hazel Littlefield-Smith's biographical "Dunsany, King of Dreams."


In 1957, Lord Dunsany became ill while eating with the Earl and Countess of Fingall at Dunsany, in what proved to be an attack of appendicitis, and died in hospital in Dublin at the age of 79. He had directed that he be buried in the churchyard of the ancient church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Shoreham, Kent, in memory of shared war times. His funeral was attended by a wide range of family (including the Pakenhams, Jerseys and Fingals) and Shoreham figures, and representatives of his old regiment and various bodies in which he had taken an interest. A memorial service was held at Kilmessan in Meath, with a reading of Crossing the Bar which was noted as coinciding with a passing flock of geese.

Lady Beatrice survived Lord Dunsany, living on primarily at Shoreham, overseeing his literary legacy until her death in 1970, while their son, Randal, succeeded him in the Barony, and was in turn succeeded by his grandson, the artist Edward Plunkett, to whom literary rights passed directly.


Aside from his literary work, Dunsany was a keen chess player, set chess puzzles for journals including The Times (of London), played José Raúl Capablanca to a draw (in a simultaneous exhibition), and also invented Dunsany's Chess, an asymmetric chess variant that is notable for not involving any fairy pieces, unlike many variants that require the player to learn unconventional piece movements. He was president of both the Irish Chess Union and the Kent County Chess Association for some years, and of Sevenoaks Chess Club for 54 years.

Dunsany was a keen horseman and hunter, for many years hosting the hounds of a local hunt, as well as hunting in parts of Africa, and sportsman, and was at one time the pistol-shooting champion of Ireland.

Dunsany also campaigned for animal rights, being known especially for his opposition to the "docking" of dogs' tails, and was president of the West Kent branch of the RSPCA in his later years.

He enjoyed cricket, provided the local cricket ground situated near Dunsany Crossroads, and later played for and presided at Shoreham Cricket Club in Kent.

He was a supporter of Scouting over many years, serving as President of the Sevenoaks district Boy Scouts Association. He also supported the amateur drama group, the Shoreham Players.

Dunsany provided support for the British Legion in both Ireland and Kent, including grounds in Trim and poetry for the Irish branch's annual memorial service on a number of occasions.


Dunsany was a prolific writer, penning short stories, novels, plays, poetry, essays and autobiography, and publishing over 90 books in his lifetime, not including individual plays. Books have continued to appear, with more than 120 having issued as of 2017. Dunsany's works have been published in many languages.

Early career

The then Edward Plunkett began his authorial career in the late 1890s, with a few published verses, such as "Rhymes from a Suburb" and "The Spirit of the Bog", but he made a lasting impression in 1905 when he burst onto the publishing scene, writing as Lord Dunsany, with the well-received collection The Gods of Pegāna.[8]

Early fantasy

Dunsany's most notable fantasy short stories were published in collections from 1905 to 1919, though fantasy as a genre did not yet exist, so they were just a curious form of literature. He paid for the publication of the first collection, The Gods of Pegāna, earning a commission on sales. This he never again had to do, the vast majority of his extensive writings selling.[9]

The stories in his first two books, and perhaps the beginning of his third, were set within an invented world, Pegāna, with its own gods, history and geography. Starting with this book, Dunsany's name is linked to that of Sidney Sime, his chosen artist, who illustrated much of his work, notably until 1922.[10]


Dunsany's style varied significantly throughout his writing career. Prominent Dunsany scholar S. T. Joshi has described these shifts as Dunsany moving on after he felt he had exhausted the potential of a style or medium. From the naïve fantasy of his earliest writings, through his early short story work in 1904–1908, he turned to the self-conscious fantasy of The Book of Wonder in 1912, in which he almost seems to be parodying his lofty early style.

Each of his collections varies in mood; A Dreamer's Tales varies from the wistfulness of "Blagdaross" to the horrors of "Poor Old Bill" and "Where the Tides Ebb and Flow" to the social satire of "The Day of the Poll."

The opening paragraph of "The Hoard of the Gibbelins" from The Book of Wonder, (1912) gives a good indication of both the tone and tenor of Dunsany's style at the time:

The Gibbelins eat, as is well known, nothing less good than man. Their evil tower is joined to Terra Cognita, to the lands we know, by a bridge. Their hoard is beyond reason; avarice has no use for it; they have a separate cellar for emeralds and a separate cellar for sapphires; they have filled a hole with gold and dig it up when they need it. And the only use that is known for their ridiculous wealth is to attract to their larder a continual supply of food. In times of famine they have even been known to scatter rubies abroad, a little trail of them to some city of Man, and sure enough their larders would soon be full again.


After The Book of Wonder, Dunsany began to write plays – many of which were even more successful, at the time, than his early story collections – while also continuing to write short stories. He continued to write plays for the theatre into the 1930s, including the famous If, and a number for radio production.[11]

Although many of Dunsany's stage plays were successfully produced within his lifetime, he also wrote a number of "chamber plays" (or closet dramas), which were intended only to be read privately (as if they were stories) or performed on the radio, rather than staged . Some of Dunsany's chamber or radio plays contain supernatural events – such as a character spontaneously appearing out of thin air, or vanishing in full view of the audience, without any explanation of how the effect is to be staged, a matter of no importance, since Dunsany did not intend these works actually to be performed live and visible.

Middle period

Following a successful lecture touring in the US in 1919–1920 and with his reputation now principally related to his plays, Dunsany temporarily reduced his output of short stories, concentrating on plays, novels and poetry for a time.

His poetry, now little seen, was for a time so popular that it is recited by the lead character of F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise and one of his poems, the sonnet A Dirge of Victory – the only poem included in the Armistice Day edition of the Times of London.

Launching another phase of his work, Dunsany's first novel, Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley, was published in 1922. It is set in "a Romantic Spain that never was," and follows the adventures of a young nobleman, Don Rodriguez, and his servant in their search for a castle for Rodriguez. It has been argued that Dunsany's inexperience with the novel form shows in the episodic nature of Don Rodriguez. In 1924, Dunsany published his second novel, The King of Elfland's Daughter, a return to his early style of writing, which is considered by many to be Dunsany's finest novel and a classic in the realm of the fantasy writing. In his next novel, The Charwoman's Shadow, Dunsany returned to the Spanish milieu and to the light style of Don Rodriguez, to which it is related.

Though his style and medium shifted frequently, Dunsany's thematic concerns remained essentially the same. Many of Dunsany's later novels had an explicitly Irish theme, from the semi-autobiographical The Curse of the Wise Woman to His Fellow Men.

One of Dunsany's best-known characters was Joseph Jorkens, an obese middle-aged raconteur who frequented the fictional Billiards Club in London, and who would tell fantastic stories if someone would buy him a large whiskey and soda. From his tales, it was obvious that Mr Jorkens had travelled to all seven continents, was extremely resourceful, and well-versed in world cultures, but always came up short on becoming rich and famous. The Jorkens books, which sold well, were among the first of a type which was to become popular in fantasy and science fiction writing: extremely improbable "club tales" told at a gentleman's club or bar.

Dunsany's writing habits were considered peculiar by some. Lady Beatrice said that "He always sat on a crumpled old hat while composing his tales." (The hat was eventually stolen by a visitor to Dunsany Castle.) Dunsany almost never rewrote anything; everything he ever published was a first draft.[12] Much of his work was penned with quill pens, which he made himself; Lady Beatrice was usually the first to see the writings, and would help type them. It has been said that Lord Dunsany would sometimes conceive stories while hunting, and would return to the Castle and draw in his family and servants to re-enact his visions before he set them on paper.


Dunsany's work was translated from an early stage, to languages including Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Czech and Turkish. His uncle, Horace Plunkett, mentioned that he had been translated into 14 languages already by the 1920s.[13]

Dramatisations and media


  • Most of Dunsany's plays were performed during his lifetime, some of them many times in many locations, including the West End, Broadway and Off-Broadway. At one time, five ran simultaneously in New York, possibly all on Broadway,[14] while on another occasion, he was in performance in four European capitals plus New York.


  • Dunsany wrote several plays for radio production, most being broadcast on the BBC and some being collected in Plays for Earth and Air. The BBC had records of the broadcasts, but according to articles on the author, these recordings are not extant.
  • Dunsany is recorded as having read short stories and poetry on air, and for private recording by Hazel Littlefield-Smith and friends in California, and it is believed that one or two of these recordings survive.
  • The successful film It Happened Tomorrow was later adapted for radio.
  • The radio drama Fortress of Doom (2005) in the Radio Tales series is an adaptation of Dunsany's short story "The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth".


  • Dunsany appeared on early television a number of times, notably on The Brains Trust (reaching over a quarter of the UK population), but no recordings are known to exist.
  • A 1946 BBC television production of A Night at an Inn, starring Oliver Burt
  • A half-hour television dramatization of "A Night at an Inn", starring Boris Karloff, adapted from Dunsany's play by Halsted Welles and directed by Robert Stevens, was produced for Suspense and aired in April 1949.
  • In 1952, Four Star Playhouse presented The Lost Silk Hat, directed by Robert Florey and starring Ronald Colman, who also collaborated with Milton Merli on the script.
  • An adaptation of The Pirates of the Round Pond, as 'The Pirates of Central Park, aired in 2001
  • A dramatised reading of Charon within USA TV series Fantasmagori, 2017


  • The 1944 film It Happened Tomorrow, critically and commercially successful, and nominated for two Oscars, credited The Jest of Hahalaba as one of its sources, and it was said that 1998 British-American romantic comedy-drama film Sliding Doors, with some similar plot points, directed by Peter Howitt, also had a Dunsanian link with that material and with If.
  • The short film In the Twilight, a 15-minute colour production from the short story of the same name, directed by Digby Rumsey showcased in the mid-1970s at the London Film Festival.
  • The short film Nature and Time, a 1976 colour production from the short story of the same name, directed by Digby Rumsey and starring Helen York and Paul Goodchild.[15]
  • The short film The Pledge, a 22-minute colour production from the short story "The Highwayman", directed by Digby Rumsey, released by Fantasy Films in 1981 and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox, with music by Michael Nyman.[16]
  • The 2008 film Dean Spanley, adapted by Alan Sharp from the short novel My Talks With Dean Spanley, directed by Toa Fraser and produced by Matthew Metcalfe and Alan Harris, and starring Peter O'Toole, Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam and Bryan Brown.
  • George Pal took an option on the science fiction novel The Last Revolution for some years in the 1960s,[17] and at least the short story Charon and the novel The King of Elfland's Daughter were also optioned at different times, but none are believed to have proceeded to production. Granada TV also bought options to or rights for certain stories.



  • An LP of Vincent Price reading a number of Dunsany's short stories was released in the 1980s.[18]
  • A number of Dunsany short stories have been published as audiobooks in Germany, and played on the German national railway, Deutsche Bahn (DB).
  • The Little Tales of Smethers and Other Stories, published in the UK and USA in 2017.
  • A set of short stories set to music, The Vengeance of Thor, released by Pegana Press, Olympia, Washington, USA in 2017.

Video game

Memberships, awards and honours

Lord Dunsany was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a member, and at once point the President, of the Authors' Society, and likewise President of the Shakespeare Reading Society from 1938 until his death in 1957, succeeded by Sir John Gielgud.[19]

Dunsany was also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and an honorary member of the Institut Historique et Heraldique de France.

He was initially an Associate Member of the Irish Academy of Letters, founded by Yeats and others, and later a full member. At one of their meetings, after 1922, he asked Seán Ó Faoláin, who was presiding, "Do we not toast the King?" Ó Faoláin replied that there was only one toast: to the Nation; but after it was given and O'Faolain had called for coffee, he saw Dunsany, standing quietly among the bustle, raise his glass discreetly, and whisper "God bless him".[20]

The Curse of the Wise Woman received the Harmsworth Literary Award in Ireland.

Dunsany received an honorary doctorate, D.Litt., from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1940.

Dunsany was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Irish PEN, but lost to Bertrand Russell.[21]


  • Dunsany studied Greek and Latin, particularly Greek drama and Herodotus, the "Father of History". Dunsany wrote in a letter: "When I learned Greek at Cheam and heard of other gods a great pity came on me for those beautiful marble people that had become forsaken and this mood has never quite left me."1
  • The King James Bible. In a letter to Frank Harris, Dunsany wrote: "When I went to Cheam School I was given a lot of the Bible to read. This turned my thoughts eastward. For years no style seemed to me natural but that of the Bible and I feared that I never would become a writer when I saw that other people did not use it."
  • The wide-ranging collection in the Library of Dunsany Castle, dating back centuries and comprising many classic works, from early encyclopedias through parliamentary records, Greek and Latin works and Victorian illustrated books
  • The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.
  • The work of Edgar Allan Poe.[22]
  • Irish speech patterns
  • The Darling of the Gods, a stage play written by David Belasco and John Luther Long, first performed 1902–1903. The play presents a fantastical, imaginary version of Japan that powerfully affected Dunsany and may be a key template for his own imaginary kingdoms.
  • Algernon Charles Swinburne, who wrote the line "Time and the Gods are at strife" in his 1866 poem "Hymn to Proserpine". Dunsany later realized this was his unconscious influence for the title Time and the Gods.
  • The heroic romances of William Morris, set in imaginary lands of the author's creation, such as The Well at the World's End.[23]
  • Dunsany's 1922 novel Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley seems to draw openly from Cervantes' Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, 1615).
  • Dunsany named his play The Seventh Symphony (collected in Plays for Earth and Air [1937]) after Beethoven's 7th Symphony, which was one of Dunsany's favourite works of music.[24] One of the last Jorkens stories returns to this theme, referring to Beethoven's Tenth Symphony.

Writers associated with Dunsany

  • Francis Ledwidge, who wrote to Dunsany in 1912 asking for help with getting his poetry published. After a delay due to a hunting trip in Africa, Dunsany invited the poet to his home, and they met and corresponded regularly thereafter, and Dunsany was so impressed that he helped with publication, and with introductions to literary society. The two became friendly and Dunsany, trying to discourage Ledwidge from joining the army when the First World War broke out, offered financial support. Ledwidge, however, did join up and found himself for a time in the same unit as Dunsany, who helped with publication of his first collection, Songs of the Fields, which was received with critical success upon its release in 1915. Throughout the war years, Ledwidge kept in contact with Dunsany, sending him poems. Ledwidge was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele two years later, even as his second collection of poetry, also selected by Dunsany, circulated. Dunsany subsequently arranged for the publication of a third collection, and later a first Collected Edition. Some unpublished Ledwidge poetry and drama, given or sent to Dunsany, is still held at the Castle.
  • Mary Lavin, who received support and encouragement from Dunsany over many years
  • William Butler Yeats, who, although he rarely acted as an editor, selected and edited a collection of Dunsany's work in 1912
  • Lady Wentworth, a poet, writing in a classical style, received support from Dunsany

Writers influenced by Dunsany

  • H. P. Lovecraft was greatly impressed by Dunsany after seeing him on a speaking tour of the United States, and Lovecraft's "Dream Cycle" stories, his dark pseudo-history of how the universe came to be, and his god Azathoth all clearly show Dunsany's influence. Lovecraft once wrote, "There are my 'Poe' pieces and my 'Dunsany' pieces—but alas—where are my Lovecraft pieces?"[25]
  • Robert E. Howard included Dunsany in a list of his favourite poets in a 1932 letter to Lovecraft.[26] Lovecraft also wrote a poem about Dunsany.
  • Clark Ashton Smith was familiar with Dunsany's work, and it had some influence on his own fantasy stories.[27]
  • J. R. R. Tolkien, according to John D. Rateliff's report,[28] presented Clyde S. Kilby with a copy of The Book of Wonder as kind of a preparation to his auxiliary role in the compilation and development of The Silmarillion during the Sixties.[29] Tolkien's letters and divulged notes made allusions to two of the stories found in this volume, "Chu-Bu and Sheemish" and "The Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller."[30] Dale J. Nelson has argued in Tolkien Studies 01 that Tolkien may have been inspired by another of The Book of Wonder's tales, "The Hoard of the Gibbelins," while writing one of his poems, "The Mewlips," included in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.[31]
  • Guillermo Del Toro, Mexican filmmaker, has cited Dunsany as an influence .
  • Neil Gaiman has expressed admiration for Dunsany and has written an introduction to a collection of his stories. Some commentators have posited links between The King of Elfland's Daughter and Gaiman's Stardust (book and film), a connection seemingly supported by a comment of Gaiman's quoted in The Neil Gaiman Reader.
  • Jorge Luis Borges included Dunsany's short story "The Idle City" in Antología de la Literatura Fantástica (1940, revised 1976), a collection of short works Borges selected and provided forewords for. Borges also, in his essay "Kafka and His Precursors," included Dunsany's story "Carcassonne" as one of the texts that presaged, or paralleled, Kafka's themes.[32]
  • Donald Wandrei, in a 7 February 1927 letter to H.P. Lovecraft, listed Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter among his collection of "weird books" that Wandrei had read.[33]
  • Talbot Mundy greatly admired Dunsany's "plays and fantasy", according to Mundy biographer Brian Taves.[34]
  • C. M. Kornbluth was an avid reader of Dunsany as a young man, and mentions Dunsany in his short fantasy story "Mr. Packer Goes to Hell" (1941).[35]
  • Arthur C. Clarke enjoyed Dunsany's work and corresponded with him between 1944 and 1956. Those letters are collected in the book Arthur C. Clarke & Lord Dunsany: A Correspondence. Clarke also edited and allowed the use of an early essay as an introduction to one volume of The Collected Jorkens and that essay acknowledges the link between Jorkens and Tales from the White Hart. Clarke states, humorously, that any reader who sees a link between the two works will *not* be hearing from his solicitors.
  • Manly Wade Wellman esteemed Dunsany's fiction.[36]
  • Margaret St. Clair was an admirer of Dunsany's work, and her story "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles" (1951) is a sequel to Dunsany's "How Nuth Would Have Practised His Art Upon the Gnoles".[37]
  • Evangeline Walton stated in an interview that Dunsany inspired her to write fantasy.[38]
  • Jack Vance was a keen reader of Dunsany's work as a child.[39]
  • Michael Moorcock often cites Dunsany as a strong influence.
  • Peter S. Beagle also cites Dunsany as an influence, and wrote an introduction for one of the recent reprint editions.
  • David Eddings once named Lord Dunsany as his personal favourite fantasy writer, and recommended aspiring authors to sample him.[40]
  • Gene Wolfe used one of Dunsany's poems to open his bestselling 2004 work The Knight.[41]
  • Fletcher Pratt's 1948 novel The Well of the Unicorn was written as a sequel to Dunsany's play King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, in her essay on style in fantasy "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie", wryly referred to Lord Dunsany as the "First Terrible Fate that Awaiteth Unwary Beginners in Fantasy", alluding to the (at the time) very common practice of young writers attempting to write in Lord Dunsany's style.[42]
  • M. J. Engh has acknowledged Lord Dunsany as an influence on her work.[43]
  • Welleran Poltarnees, an author of numerous non-fantasy "blessing books" employing turn-of-the-century artwork, is a pen name based on two of Lord Dunsany's most famous stories.[44]
  • Gary Myers's 1975 short story collection The House of the Worm is a double pastiche of Dunsany and Lovecraft.[45]
  • Álvaro Cunqueiro openly admitted the influence of Lord Dunsany on his work, and wrote him an epitaph which is included in "Herba de aquí e de acolá".

Scholars and archivists

S. T. Joshi and Darrell Schweitzer have been working on the Dunsany œuvre for over twenty years, gathering stories and essays and reference material, and producing both an initial bibliography (together) and scholarly studies of Dunsany's work (separate works). They issued an updated version of the bibliography in 2013. Joshi edited The Collected Jorkens, The Ginger Cat and other lost plays and co-edited The Ghost in the Corner and other stories. Both are well-known figures in the fields of speculative fiction.

In the late 1990s a curator, J.W. (Joe) Doyle, was appointed by the Dunsany estate, working at Dunsany Castle, among other things locating and organising the author's manuscripts, typescripts and other materials. Doyle discovered both works known to exist but "lost", such as the plays "The Ginger Cat" and "The Murderers," some Jorkens stories, and the novel The Pleasures of a Futuroscope (subsequently published by Hippocampus Press) and unknown, unpublished works, notably including The Last Book of Jorkens, to the first edition of which he wrote an introduction, and an unnamed 1956 short story collection, published as part of The Ghost in the Corner and other stories in 2017.[46]

In the 2000s a PhD researcher, Tania Scott, from the University of Glasgow, worked on Dunsany for some time, and has spoken at literary and other conventions. A Swedish fan, Martin Andersson, has also been active in research and publication in the mid-2010s.[47][48]



Dunsany's literary rights passed from the author to a Trust, which still owns them. These rights were first managed by Beatrice, Lady Dunsany, and are currently administered by Curtis Brown of London and partner companies worldwide (some past US deals, for example, have been listed by Locus Magazine as by SCG).

All of Dunsany's work is in copyright in parts of the world as of 2018, including the UK and European Union, with the early work (published before 1 January 1923) being in the public domain in the United States, and all of his work out of copyright in parts of the world with copyright durations of life + 60 or less.

Dunsany's primary home, over 820 years old, can be visited at certain times of year, and tours usually include the Library, but not the tower room he often liked to work in. His other home, Dunstall Priory, was sold to a fan, Grey Gowrie, later head of the Arts Council of the UK, and thence passed on to other owners; the family still own farm- and down-land in the area, and a Tudor cottage in Shoreham village. The grave of Lord Dunsany and his wife can be seen in the Church of England graveyard in the village (most of the previous barons are buried in the grounds of Dunsany Castle).

Dunsany's original manuscripts are collected in the family archive, including some specially bound volumes of some of his works. As noted, there has been a curator since the late 1990s and scholarly access is possible by application.

See also


  1. Lanham, Maryland, USA, 1993: Rowman & Littlefield; Joshi, S.T. and Schweitzer, Darrell; Lord Dunsany: A Comprehensive Bibliography (Studies in Supernatural Literature series); 304 pp.
  2. "Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  3. Leonard R. N. Ashley, ‘Plunkett, Edward John Moreton Drax, eighteenth Baron Dunsany (1878–1957)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 26 Nov 2014
  4. "Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany". irelandseye.com. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  5. A Dictionary of Irish History since 1800, D. J. Hickey & J. E. Doherty, Gill & MacMillan (1980)
  6. Cooper 1989, p. 159
  7. Braybrooke & Braybrooke 2004, p. 110
  8. "Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th baron of Dunsany | Irish dramatist". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  9. L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy, p 53 ISBN 0-87054-076-9.
  10. L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy, p 54-5 ISBN 0-87054-076-9.
  11. Martin Gardner, "Lord Dunsany" in Supernatural Fiction Writers: Fantasy and Horror (1985) edited by E. F. Bleiler.Scribner's, New York. ISBN 0-684-17808-7 (p. 471-78).
  12. Darrell Schweitzer,Pathways to Elfland: The Writings of Lord Dunsany (1989) Owlswick Press, ISBN 0-913896-16-0 .
  13. Plunkett, Horace Curzon: Diaries, as transcribed by Targett, Kate (Reading Room, National Library of Ireland
  14. New York, NY: New York Times, 24 December 1916: Second Thoughts on First Nights: "Speaking of Dunsany ... he has quite come into his own this season... suddenly seen four produced on Broadway within a single month, and a fifth promised for production before the end of Winter. Everyone is talking about Dunsany now." From a second New York Times reference, three of these were The Golden Doom, The Gods of the Mountain and King Argimines.
  15. British Film Institute: http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/105799
  16. "Watch The Pledge". BFI Player. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  17. "The George Pal Site: "-Ographies"". awn.com. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  18. "Vincent Price (2) - Lord Dunsany Stories From The Book Of Wonder Jorkens Remembers Africa And The Fourth Book Of Jorkens". Discogs.
  19. shakespeare. "The Shakespeare Reading Society – History". shakespearereadingsociety.co.uk. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  20. O'Faolain, Vive Moi!, pp. 350 n, 353
  21. "Nomination Database – Literature".
  22. S.T. Joshi, Lord Dunsany: Master of the Anglo-Irish imagination Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995, (p.2).
  23. David Pringle, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, London, Carlton, 1998. (p. 36)
  24. Lord Dunsany: Master of the Anglo-Irish Imagination (p. 152)
  25. Letter to Elizabeth Toldridge, 8 March 1929, quoted in Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) REH Bookshelf Website.
  27. L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy, p 212 ISBN 0-87054-076-9.
  28. "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". 2 January 2005.
  29. "When American Clyde Kilby arrived in Oxford in the summer of 1966 to offer Tolkien "editorial assistance" in finishing The Silmarillion, one of the first things Tolkien did was hand him a copy of Dunsany's The Book of Wonder and tell him to read it before starting work on Tolkien's own story".
  30. http://www.conan.com/invboard/index.php?s=22017f3d5eb8ff9a904f5f53d49c1b36&showtopic=1201&st=60&p=66377&#entry66377C
  31. Nelson, Dale (21 December 2004). "Possible Echoes of Blackwood and Dunsany in Tolkien's Fantasy". 1 (1): 177–181. doi:10.1353/tks.2004.0013 via Project MUSE. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  32. "Cafe Irreal: Fiction: Borges". cafeirreal.alicewhittenburg.com.
  33. S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, Mysteries of Time and Spirit: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei. Night Shade Books, San Francisco, ISBN 1892389495 (p.26).
  34. Talbot Mundy, Philosopher of Adventure by Brian Taves, McFarland, 2006 (pg. 253).
  35. Mark Rich, C. M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7864-4393-2 (p. 98 189).
  36. "I admire and constantly reread M. R. James, Dunsany and Hearn...". Wellman interviewed in Jeffrey M. Elliot, Fantasy Voices: Interviews with American Fantasy Writers. Borgo Press, San Bernardino. 1982 ISBN 0-89370-146-7 (p.10)
  37. Darrell Schweitzer, Pathways to Elfland, Owlswick Press, 1989 (p.19).
  38. Kenneth J. Zahorski and Robert H. Boyer, Lloyd Alexander, Evangeline Walton Ensley, Kenneth Morris: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography, G.K Hall, 1981 (p.116).
  39. "Jack Vance, Biographical Sketch", (2000) in Jack Vance: Critical Appreciations and a Bibliography, British Library, 2000.
  40. David Eddings, The Rivan Codex, Del Rey Books, 1998 (p.468).
  41. New York, NY, USA: Tor Books, 2004: Wolfe, Gene; The Knight
  42. Ursula K. Le Guin, "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie", pp. 78–9 The Language of the Night ISBN 0-425-05205-2
  43. "I acknowledge with gratitude the influence of Dunsany..." M.J. Engh, "My Works", . Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  44. "Welleran Poltarnees". LibraryThing. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  45. Page, G.W. (1975). Nameless places. Arkham House. p. 278. ISBN 978-0-87054-073-8. Retrieved 4 May 2019. ... His The House of the Worm, a book-length pastiche of Lovecraft and Dunsany, published recently by Arkham House ...
  46. "Lord Dunsany – works". Dunsany family official site. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  47. "The Ghost in the Corner and Other Stories by Lord Dunsany". Hippocampus Press. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  48. "Vol. 3 No. 1 Winter 2006 – Contributors". contemporaryrhyme.com. 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2018.


  • Amory, Mark (1972). "A Biography of Lord Dunsany". London: Collins. Cite journal requires |journal= (help).
  • Smith, Hazel Littlefield (1959). Lord Dunsany: King of Dreams: A Personal Portrait. New York: Exposition.
  • Schweitzer, Darrell. "Lord Dunsany: Visions of Wonder". Studies in Weird Fiction 5 (Spring 1989), 20–26.
  • Joshi, S. T. (1993). Lord Dunsany: a Bibliography / by S. T. Joshi and Darrell Schweitzer. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 1–33.
  • Joshi, S. T. (1995). Lord Dunsany: Master of the Anglo-Irish Imagination. New Jersey: Greenwood Press..
  • S.T. Joshi. "Lord Dunsany: The Career of a Fantaisiste" in Darrell Schweitzer (ed). Discovering Classic Fantasy Fiction, Gillette, NJ: Wildside Press, 1996, pp. 7–48.
  • Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. pp. 104–105.
  • Cooper, Artemis (1989). Cairo in the War, 1939–1945. London: Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-13280-7. OCLC 29519769..
  • Braybrooke, Neville; Braybrooke, June (2004). Olivia Manning: A Life. London: Chatto and Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-7749-2. OCLC 182661935..

Further reading

  • Lin Carter "The World's Edge, and Beyond: The Fiction of Dunsany, Eddison and Cabell" in Imaginary Worlds: The Art of Fantasy. NY: Ballantine Books, 1973, 27-48.
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
John Plunkett
Baron of Dunsany
Succeeded by
Randal Plunkett
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