Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Summer 2006 Newsletter

Sebastian Barry Visits Ransom Center

Barry Audio Clips
More Barry Photos
Barry Interview

Barry answers questions about his collection from Ransom Center archivist Gabriela Redwine, who has been cataloging his collection. Photo by Eric Beggs.

1. Sebastian Barry talks about fight over title of Annie Dunne with Ransom Center cataloger Gabriela Redwine

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SEBASTIAN BARRY: Well, I was very annoyed because the American publisher refused to use Kelsha Yard.

I was extremely annoyed. Because she said in America, yard means something else. You know, it's a farmyard in Ireland. She said that means the back of people's houses (in America) and Kelsha, what's that mean? But I wanted to spread the fame of this tiny town there throughout the globe.

So she begged me to change it to "Annie Dunne" and they were agreed, and that was a fight I lost.

GABRIELA REDWINE: Was it ever published in Ireland as Kelsha Yard?

BARRY: Oh no. The thing about it was that Kelsha Yard meant that the book was about everybody in the book, but as soon as you name a name like that, it focuses on the one character. I don't think that was right, but anyway...

Kelsha Yard is still the real title. I'll republish it as Kelsha Yard: Formerly Known as...

2. Barry talks about his father's secretary typing his early plays

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BARRY: That would have been typed out by my father's secretary—my father was an architect—and she actually used to take my things and type them out on an old electric typewriter.

REDWINE: Would you mail them to her?

BARRY: No, she was in the house or in her office in town. I'd just give them to her, beg her to do it because I couldn't type. And she would, God bless her.

3. Barry talks about stacks of poetry and other drafts stashed in cupboards as Redwine asks him about a few unorganized stacks she's trying to catalog

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BARRY: See, I used to have a cupboard—when the pile got too big, I'd put it in the cupboard—and the pile would grow up like that in the cupboard, and sometimes they'd fall out of the cupboard. So I'd have to put them all back in again. Well, I'd be looking for something...

REDWINE: That explains quite a lot.

BARRY: (laughing) but I'd take it all out, and I'd say, how do I put this back in sequence? Ah, well, sure, what the hell? It was like a Greek temple in there with just these columns.

4. Barry talks about the mass of unpublished work in the archive

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BARRY: It's just one does an immense amount of work that you don't publish. It's very poignant at 50 to see all those drafts and poems that you remember in some curious way. Do you know? That's a surprise because I forget so many things.

I can actually see where I'm sitting doing it.

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