Samuel Beckett (1906 - 1989):
Samuel Barclay Beckett was born in Foxrock Dublin on 13 April 1906 (which happened to be Good Friday), the second son of William and Maria Beckett. He attended primary school in Dublin, and then at the age of 14 became a boarder at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen. Portora is one of the five royal schools in Ulster founded in 1608, and had already educated two other boys who were to find fame as writers as Oscar Wilde and the hymnwriter Henry Francis Lyte.
Beckett showed little academic prowess, winning no prizes, but rather became an accomplished sportsman, playing scrum-half on the rugby team and captaining the school in the Ulster Schools' Cup Final in Belfast in 1923. In the same year he entered Trinity College in Dublin where he studied English literature, Italian and French, graduating with a first-class degree in 1927. He continued his passion for cricket and played two first class matches for Trinity against Northamptonshire thereby winning a place in the annals of the sport and providing quiz-setters with the question "who is the only Nobel laureate for literature to be listed in Wisden Cricketers' Almanack?
On graduation he taught for two terms at Campbell College in Belfast, an experience which he found most uncongenial. He returned to Trinity to lecture for two years before eventually settling in France where he was to spend much of the remainder of his life. There he came to know another Irish exile, James Joyce, and his first published critical essay was on "Finnegan's Wake". His own literary efforts at first focused on novels, short stories and poems.
During the Second World War he was actively involved with the Resistance, and from August to December 1945 worked at the Irish Red Cross hospital at Saint-Lô as a storekeeper and interpreter; the hospital was run by Alan Thompson, a schoolfriend from Portora days. He also began work on the play which was eventually to ensure his enduring fame Waiting for Godot first performed (in French) in 1953. His own English translation was premiered in London in 1955.Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1969 and for the next twenty years continued to produce work of the most challenging and experimental type. He died of respiratory failure in Paris on 22 December 1989. He is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse alongside his wife Suzanne who had predeceased him by a few months.
|Born:||13 April 1906|
|Died:||22 December 1989|
© 2015 Ulster History Circle