Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín at the 2006 Texas Book Festival.
Born May 30, 1955 (1955-05-30) (age 56)
Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland
Occupation Novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, playwright, lecturer, poet
Nationality Irish
Education B.A., (Hon) D.Litt.
Alma mater University College Dublin
Notable work(s) The Heather Blazing, The Story of the Night, The Blackwater Lightship, The Master, Brooklyn

Colm Tóibín (Irish pronunciation: [ˈkɔl̪ˠəmˠ t̪ˠoːˈbʲiːnʲ]; born May 30, 1955) is a multi-award-winning Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic, and, most recently, poet.[2]

Tóibín is Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University in New Jersey and succeeded Martin Amis as professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester.[3] He is regarded by critics as having excelled at the many literary forms he has experimented with.[2] Tóibín was hailed as a champion of minorities as he collected the 2011 Irish PEN Award.[4] In 2011, he was named one of "Britain's top 300 intellectuals" by The Observer, despite being Irish.[5]


Early life

Colm Tóibín was born in 1955 in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, in the southeast of Ireland. He was the second youngest of five children. His grandfather, Patrick Tobin, was a member of the IRA, as was his grand-uncle Michael Tobin. Patrick Tobin took part in the 1916 Rebellion in Enniscorthy and was subsequently interned in Frongoch in Wales. Colm Tóibín's father was a teacher who was involved in the Fianna Fáil party in Enniscorthy. He received his secondary education at St Peter's College, Wexford, where he was a boarder between 1970 and 1972. He later spoke of finding some of the priests attractive.[6] He progressed to University College Dublin, graduating in 1975. Immediately after graduation, he left for Barcelona. Tóibín's first novel, 1990's The South, was partly inspired by his time in Barcelona; as was, more directly, his non-fiction Homage to Barcelona (1990). Having returned to Ireland in 1978, he began to study for a masters degree. However, he did not submit his thesis and left academia, at least partly, for a career in journalism.


The early 1980s were an especially bright period in Irish journalism, and the heyday for the monthly news magazine Magill. Tóibín became the magazine's editor in 1982, and remained in the position until 1985. He left due to ongoing differences with the managing director Vincent Browne.

The Heather Blazing (1992), his second novel, was followed by The Story of the Night (1996) and The Blackwater Lightship (1999). His fifth novel, The Master (2004), is a fictional account of portions in the life of author Henry James. He is the author of other non-fiction books: Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border (1994), (reprinted from the 1987 original edition) and The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe (1994).

He has written a play that was staged in Dublin in August 2004, Beauty in a Broken Place. He has continued to work as a journalist, both in Ireland and abroad, writing for the London Review of Books among others. He has also achieved a reputation as a literary critic: he has edited a book on Paul Durcan, The Kilfenora Teaboy (1997); The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction (1999); and has written The Modern Library: The 200 Best Novels in English since 1950 (1999), with Carmen Callil; a collection of essays, Love in A Dark Time: Gay lives from Wilde to Almodóvar (2002); and a study on Lady Gregory, Lady Gregory's Toothbrush (2002).

Tóibín is a member of Aosdána and has been visiting professor at Stanford University, The University of Texas at Austin and Princeton University. He has also lectured at several other universities, including Boston College, New York University, Loyola University Maryland, and The College of the Holy Cross. In 2008, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) at the University of Ulster in recognition of his contribution to contemporary Irish Literature. In January 2010, he was named the winner of the Costa Novel Award for his novel Brooklyn.[7]

Tóibín has written two short story collections. His first Mothers and Sons which, as the name suggests, explores the relationship between mothers and their sons, was published in 2006 and was reviewed favourably (including by Pico Iyer in The New York Times). His second, broader collection The Empty Family was published in 2010.[8]

The University of Manchester recently named Tóibín as its new professor of creative writing, succeeding Martin Amis.[3] Tóibín hosted the English novelist and 2004 Man Booker Prize winner Alan Hollinghurst at an event in the university on 10 October 2011.[9]

In 2011, The Times Literary Supplement published his poem "Cush Gap, 2007".[2]

At the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle, Tóibín described Irish emigration as a “tragedy”.[10]


Tóibín's work explores several main lines: the depiction of Irish society, living abroad, the process of creativity and the preservation of a personal identity, focusing especially on homosexual identities—Tóibín is openly gay[11]—but also on identity in front of loss. The "Wexford" novels, The Heather Blazing and The Blackwater Lightship, use the town of Enniscorthy where he was born as narrative material, together with the history of Ireland and the death of his father. An autobiographical account and reflection on this episode can be found in the non-fiction book, The Sign of the Cross. In 2009 he published Brooklyn, a tale of a woman emigrating to Brooklyn from Enniscorthy.

Two other novels, The Story of the Night and The Master revolve around characters who have to deal with a homosexual identity and take place outside Ireland for the most part, with a character having to cope with living abroad. His first novel, The South, seems to have ingredients of both lines of work. It can be read together with The Heather Blazing as a diptych of Protestant and Catholic heritages in County Wexford, or it can be grouped with the "living abroad" novels. A third topic that link The South and The Heather Blazing is that of creation. Of painting in the first case and of the careful wording of a judge's verdict in the second. This third thematic line culminated in The Master, a study on identity, precedeed by a non-fiction book in the same subject, Love in a Dark Time. The book of short stories "Mothers and Sons" deal with family themes, both in Ireland and Catalonia, and homosexuality.

Tóibín has written about gay sex in several novels, though Brooklyn contains a heterosexual sex scene in which the heroine loses her virginity.[12]




  • Tóibín, Colm; O'Shea, Tony (1987), Walking along the border, Macdonald, ISBN 9780356128863 
  • Tóibín, Colm (1987), Martyrs and metaphors, Letters from the New Island, vol. 1, no. 2., Raven Arts, ISBN 9781851860364 
  • Tóibín, Colm (1990), The trial of the generals : selected journalism, 1980-1990, Raven Arts Press, ISBN 9781851860814 
  • Tóibín, Colm (1990), Homage to Barcelona, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 9780671710613 
  • Tóibín, Colm (1990), Dubliners, O'Shea, Tony (illus.), London: Macdonald, ISBN 035617641X 
  • Tóibín, Colm (1994), Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border, Picador, ISBN 9780330520973 
  • Tóibín, Colm (1994), The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe, Jonathan Cape, ISBN 9780224037679 
  • Tóibín, Colm, ed. (1995), The Guinness Book of Ireland, Guinness World Records, ISBN 9780851125978 
  • Tóibín, Colm, ed. (1996), The Kilfenora Teaboy: A Study of Paul Durcan, New Island Books, ISBN 9781874597315 
  • Tóibín, Colm; Callil, Carmel (1999), The Modern Library: The Two Hundred Best Novels in English Since 1950, Picador, ISBN 9780330341820 
  • Tóibín, Colm, ed. (1999), The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction, Penguin/Viking, ISBN 9780670854974 
  • Tóibín, Colm (2002), Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives From Wilde to Almodovar, Picador, ISBN 9780330491372  (First English edition; Australian edition published 2001)
  • Tóibín, Colm (2002), Lady Gregory's Toothbrush, University of Wisconsin Press, ISBN 9780299180003 
  • Schneider, Gregor; O'Hagan, Andrew; Tóibín, Colm (2004), Die Familie Schneider, Artangel, ISBN 9783865212368 
  • Tóibín, Colm (2006), The Use Of Reason, Picador, ISBN 9780330445733 )[13]



  1. ^ "The best holiday reads: Colm Tóibín". The Guardian. Retrieved on 17 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Toibin tries his hand at poetry . . .". Irish Independent. Retrieved on 18 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Walsh, Caroline. "Colm Tóibín wins Irish Pen award". The Irish Times. 4 February 2011.
  4. ^ Boland, Rosita. "Tóibín on song as he pick up Irish Pen award". The Irish Times. 12 February 2011.
  5. ^ Naughton, John. "Britain's top 300 intellectuals". 8 May 2011. The Observer.
  6. ^ Austen was a woeful speller . . .. Irish Independent. 30 October 2010. 'Although not abused by priests in the Wexford school he attended, he positively fancied some of them. "Aged 15 or 16," he tells interviewer Susanna Rustin, "I found some of the priests sexually attractive, they had a way about them . . . a sexual allure which is a difficult thing to talk about because it's usually meant to be the opposite way round"'.
  7. ^ a b "Tóibín wins Costa Novel Award". RTÉ News. 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  8. ^ "The Empty Family Stories". Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  9. ^ "Tóibín Hollinghurst event sells out". 10 October 2011.
  10. ^ "'Emigration is a tragedy,' says novelist". The Irish Times. 8 October 2011.
  11. ^ Kaplan, James (2004-06-06). "A Subtle Play of Relations Reveals Henry James in Full". The Observer. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  12. ^ Let's not talk about sex – why passion is waning in British books. The Guardian. 16 October 2010.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  15. ^ "William Trevor makes an Impac", Irish Times, April 12, 2011
  16. ^ Brown, Mark (2009-07-28). "Heavyweights clash on Booker longlist". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  17. ^ Cullen, Conor. "Tóibín in line for major prize". Enniscorthy Guardian. 12 July 2011.
  18. ^ Walsh, Caroline. "Two Irish authors make awards shortlist". The Irish Times. 9 July 2011.
  19. ^ Flood, Alison. "Strong showing for Irish writers on Frank O'Connor shortlist". The Guardian. 9 July 2011.


  • Ryan, Ray. Ireland and Scotland: Literature and Culture, State and Nation, 1966–2000. Oxford University Press, 2002.

Further reading

  • Allen Randolph, Jody. "Colm Tóibín, December 2009." Close to the Next Moment. Manchester: Carcanet, 2010.
  • Boland, Eavan. "Colm Tóibín." Irish Writers on Writing. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2007.
  • Delaney, Paul. Reading Colm Tóibín. Dublin: Liffey Press, 2008.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Colm Tóibín — en el Texas Book Festival de 2006. Nombre completo Colm Tóibín Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Colm Toibin — Colm Tóibín Colm Tóibín (* 30. Mai 1955 in Enniscorthy, County Wexford) ist ein irischer Schriftsteller, Journalist und Literaturkritiker. Tóibín ging zur Schule am St Peter’s College in Wexford. Er besuchte danach das University College Dublin… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Colm Tóibín — (* 30. Mai 1955 in Enniscorthy, County Wexford) ist ein irischer Schriftsteller, Journalist und Literaturkritiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Colm Toibin — Colm Tóibín Colm Tóibín Colm Tóibín (en anglais Tobin) est un romancier et un journaliste irlandais né en 1955 à Enniscorthy, Comté de Wexford. En tant qu écrivain, il a reçu plusieurs prix littéraires …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Colm Tóibín — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Tóibín. Colm Tóibín Colm Tóibín (en anglais Tobin) est un romancier et un journaliste irlandais né en …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Toibin — Tóibín ist der Name folgender Personen: Colm Tóibín (* 1955), irischer Schriftsteller, Journalist und Literaturkritiker Niall Tóibín (* 1929), irischer Schauspieler …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Colm — is a given name of Irish origin that means dove in the Irish language, and may also be an abbreviation of the name Columba. Colm can be pronounced the same way as the name Callum /ˈkæləm/, but it is more commonly pronounced as /ˈkɒlm/ or /ˈkʌlm/ …   Wikipedia

  • Colm — (auf Deutsch: „Taube“) ist ein männlicher Vorname[1] irischen Ursprungs, der sich von Columban von Iona herleitet.[2] Eine andere Form ist Colum. Als Familienname tritt Colm nur selten auf. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Bekannte Namensträger …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tóibín — ist der Name folgender Personen: Colm Tóibín (* 1955), irischer Schriftsteller, Journalist und Literaturkritiker Niall Tóibín (* 1929), irischer Schauspieler Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer m …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tóibín — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Patronyme Tóibín est un nom de famille notamment porté par : Colm Tóibín (1955 ), un romancier et un journaliste irlandais ; Nioclás Tóibín… …   Wikipédia en Français

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