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Brendan Behan

David Levine (1926-2009)


Signed and dated 64
Inscribed with title and 'N Y R', and dated 1964 on reverse

Pen and ink

4 ¼ x 2 ¼ inches

New York Review of Books, 30 July 1964, 'Bee-Keeper' by Christopher Ricks (a review of The Scarperer and Hold Your Hour and Have Another by Brendan Behan);
John Updike (intro),
Pens and Needles. Literary Caricatures by David Levine, Boston: Gambit, 1969, Page 142

'The Illustrators. The British Art of Illustration 1894-2020', Chris Beetles Gallery, November 2020-January 2021, No 193

Brendan Behan

In his short career, the Irish writer, Brendan Behan (1923-1964), achieved great fame. A member of the youth-wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) from as young as 14, he served time in both the borstal at Hollesley Bay, Suffolk, and Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. These experiences inspired his play,
The Quare Fellow (1954), which gained him a wide reputation when produced by Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in London in 1956. He wrote his second play, The Hostage (1958), in the Irish language, having become a fluent speaker of it while in prison. Productions of its English-language version ensured international success, which was immediately consolidated by the publication of an autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy. However, success led him to play up to the image of him as a wise-cracking drunk, and so damage both his health and the quality of his work. He collapsed at the Harbour Lights Bar in Dublin in March 1964, and died soon after. The present drawing was published four months later as an illustration to a review of two of his slighter works.

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