Irish Writers: Edna O’Brien

Irish Writers: Edna O’Brien

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May 1993


19min 16sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Channel 4, Department for Communities, Flying Fox Films, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Channel 4, Flying Fox Films

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Profile of the renowned Irish writer.

Edna O'Brien discusses the life experiences and cultural touchstones that were pivotal in her development as a writer. She shares her thoughts on the writing experience, discusses the writers she considers great and quotes from her own novels.

In terms of personal experience, she refers to the overbearing influence of her mother, of how "her sensibilities became mine". In particular, she notes that her own attitudes to personal relationships (with men) was, in effect, an echo of her mother's attitudes. Love and sex with a man - in or out of wedlock - was seen as a terrible wrong.

O'Brien's rural upbringing was another formative influence. She observes that she used language and imagination as a means of running away from a real life comprising "of cattle and donkeys". However, Ireland's landscape, she sees as a positive influence, and something that manifests in her work in important ways. 

In summation, she believes that (good) writing comes from "the blood and guts of one's experience".


ITV Schools was the educational television service set up in 1957 by the Independent Television Authority, broadcasting learning programmes for children ages 5 to 18 across ITV-affiliated stations. It was an example of public service broadcasting on a commerical television network. ITV moved its schools programming to Channel 4 in 1987, although ITV continued to produce programmes and the service continued to use the ITV name for another six years.The last ITV Schools programme on Channel 4 aired on Monday, 28th June, 1993.   



Produced by Ulster Television and Flying Fox Films for Channel Four Schools.

Thanks to Roy Spence

Producers: Neil Martin, Catherine Gifford 

Director: David Hammond 



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