Brendan Behan was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1923. He came from a family of rebels. His father was in prison because of IRA activities when Behan was born, and his uncle Peadar Kearney was the author of A Soldiers Song, the song of rebellion that was to become the country's national anthem. Not surprisingly, Behan became a rebel himself, joining Fianna Eirann, a youth organization that he referred to as the Republican Boy Scouts, at the age of 9 and transferring to the IRA when he was just fourteen. When he was 16, Behan was arrested for the possession of explosives while in Liverpool, England. Apparently he had been sent there as part of a plot to blow up the battleship King George V. Behan spent 3 years in an English reform school, an experience that later became the basis for the autobiographical novel Borstal Boy. When he was released in 1942, Behan was sent back to Ireland, where he rejoined the IRA and, in less than a year found himself under arrest again. This time the charge was firing at two police officers, for which he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was released, however, in 1946 as part of a general amnesty. Upon leaving prison, Behan worked as a house painter and a seaman. He also began writing, initially as a freelance journalist and later as a playwright. His best-known works are his plays The Quare Fellow and The Hostage, comedy-dramas that deal with the subjects Behan knew best-Dublin and the IRA. Behan also wrote Brendan Behan's Ireland: An Irish Sketchbook, Brendan Behan's New York, The Scarperer, Confessions of an Irish Rebel, Richard's Cork Leg, and After the Wake. Behan died in 1964, at age 41, of a combination of alcoholism, jaundice, and diabetes. After Behan's death, Borstal Boy was adapted for the theatre by Frank McMahon. The resulting production won a Tony award and a New York Drama Critics Circle Award for the best play of 1969-70 season.