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Essays

Dorothea Donn-Byrne

Casella, Donna

Silent films in Ireland from 1914 to 1935 focused on Irish rural life, the long struggle for independence from Great Britain, and the civil war that raged from 1922-1923 over the formation of the Irish Free State. Films like those from producers Ellen O’Mara and James Mark Sullivan’s indigenous Film Company of Ireland (1916-1920) specialized in romantic comedies/dramas of Irish life and historical melodramas on the Protestant Ascendency and its exploitation of Irish Catholic tenants. Screenwriter Mary Manning’s Guests of the Nation (1935) explored the Anglo/Irish War (1919-1921) and its devastating impact on the Irish countryside and its people. English-Irish author Dorothea Donn-Byrne worked in and outside this nationalist tradition. As Dolly Byrne, she provided the source material for Enter Madame (US 1922), a drawing room comedy about a self-absorbed opera singer and her troubled marriage, and, as Dorothea Donn Byrne, she wrote the original story for Land of Her Fathers (IE/US 1925), a romantic drama set against the backdrop of the Anglo/Irish War. In her prolific career, Donn-Byrne wrote for the stage and screen, and penned essays and short stories on a variety of topics that reflected the political and popular culture of the Anglo/Irish/American societies in which she lived. Her work in cinema points to the early dependence on source authors and story writers—particularly women—the nature of their contribution as cinematic authors, and the uncertainty surrounding their involvement in production.

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Academic Units
Film
Libraries
Series
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
April 7, 2020