Francis MacManus’s 1937 First Edition of “Candle for the Proud” A564

Francis MacManus (1909 –1965) was an Irish novelist and broadcaster.

Born in Kilkenny, MacManus was educated in the local Christian Brothers School and later at St. Patrick’s College, Dublin and University College Dublin. After teaching for eighteen years at the Synge Street Christian Brothers School in Dublin, MacManus joined the staff of Radio Ereann (precursor to RTE, the Irish national broadcasting entity) in 1948 as Director of Features.

MacManus began writing while still teaching, first publishing a trilogy set in Penal times and concerning the life of the Gaelic poet Donncha Rua Mac Connemara comprising the novels Stand and Give Challenge (1934), Candle for the Proud (1936) and Men Withering (1939).  A second trilogy followed which turned its attention to contemporary Ireland: This House Was Mine (1937), Flow On, Lovely River (1941), and Watergate (1942). The location was the fictional “Dombridge”, based on Kilkenny, and deal with established themes of Irish rural life: obsessions with land, sexual frustration, and the trials of emigration and return. Other major works include the novel The Greatest of These (1943), concerning religious conflict in nineteenth-century Kilkenny, and the biographies Boccaccio (1947) and Saint Columban (1963). In his last two novels, MacManus descended into the depths of theological debate: The Fire in the Dust (1950) was followed by American Son(1959), a remarkable dialogue between conflicting modes of belief which reveals the strong influence of Roman Catholicism on the author.

MacManus died in Dublin 27 November 1965 at the age of 56, from a heart attack.

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