Irish writer Colum McCann was born near Dublin in 1965 and graduated from the University of Texas with a B.A. degree. He has worked as a newspaper journalist in Ireland and written several short stories and bestselling novels. The short film of Everything in this Country Must was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. McCann's work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, The Irish Times, La Repubblica, Die Zeit, Paris Match, the Guardian, and the Independent. He has won numerous awards, such as a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize, the Irish Novel of the Year Award, and the 2002 Ireland Fund of Monaco Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award. In 2009 McCann was inducted into the Irish arts association Aosdana. He teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program at New York's Hunter College.
George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in 1903 in Motihari in Bengal, India and later studied at Eton for four years. Orwell was an assistant superintendent with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. He left the position after five years and then moved to Paris, where he wrote his first two books, Burmese Days and Down and Out In Paris. Orwell then moved to Spain to write but decided to join the United Workers Marxist Party Militia. After being decidedly opposed to communism, Orwell served in the British Home Guard and with the Indian Service of the BBC during World War II. He started writing for the Observer and was literary editor for the Tribune. Soon after he published the world-famous book, Animal Farm, which became a huge success for Orwell. It was then towards the end of his life when Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. George Orwell died on January 23, 1950 in London.
James Joyce was born on February 2, 1882, in Dublin, Ireland, into a large Catholic family. Joyce was a very good pupil, studying poetics, languages, and philosophy at Clongowes Wood College, Belvedere College, and the Royal University in Dublin. Joyce taught school in Dalkey, Ireland, before marrying in 1904. Joyce lived in Zurich and Triest, teaching languages at Berlitz schools, and then settled in Paris in 1920 where he figured prominently in the Parisian literary scene, as witnessed by Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Joyce's collection of fine short stories, Dubliners, was published in 1914, to critical acclaim. Joyce's major works include A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, and Stephen Hero. Ulysses, published in 1922, is considered one of the greatest English novels of the 20th century. The book simply chronicles one day in the fictional life of Leopold Bloom, but it introduces stream of consciousness as a literary method and broaches many subjects controversial to its day. As avant-garde as Ulysses was, Finnegans Wake is even more challenging to the reader as an important modernist work. Joyce died just two years after its publication, in 1941.