Brian Friel was born Bernard Patrick Friel in 1929 in Northern Ireland. The future playwright attended St. Columb's College and graduated from St. Patrick's College. He spent a decade working as a teacher in Londonderry after deciding that he did not want to become a priest. Friel gained confidence as a writer when his short stories began to be published in the New Yorker magazine. He has produced several volumes of short stories, including A Saucer of Larks, The Gold in the Sea, and Give Me Your Answer, Do! But Friel is better known for writing plays. His first play, Philadelphia, Here I Come! is about an Irish immigrant who comes to America. His 1989 play Aristocrats won Best Foreign Play Award from the New York Drama Critics Circle. Dancing at Lughnasa, about a household of women in Ireland during the 1930s, won a Tony Award for best play in 1992. Other plays include Faith Healer, Molly Sweeney, and Wonderful Tennessee.
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.