"To Set the Darkness Echoing," on view at the Grolier Club 15 May-27 July 2002, illustrates, through poetry, drama and the novel, the extraordinary creativity of Irish writers in the second half of the twentieth century.
Organized decade by decade, the exhibition will document the careers of outstanding Irish poets, playwrights and novelists through their manuscripts, letters, photographs, broadsides, books and art. The exhibition opens with Samuel Beckett's manuscript notebook for Waiting for Godot and proceeds up to the present with manuscript drafts of poet Michael Longley's The Weather in Japan (winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry in 2000).
Other items on exhibit show the development of Seamus Heaney's career, including manuscript drafts of "Digging," "Personal Helicon," "Death of a Naturalist," and "North" (on loan from the poet), and one of only fifteen copies of the rare artist's edition of Toome. The poet's Nobel Prize medal will also be on view. Also on exhibit will be Brian Moore's early "character notes" for Judith Hearne; one of twenty-five copies of Thomas Kinsella's rare early chapbook The Starlit Eye; original work-sheets of the Belfast Group poets; a collection of poet Medbh McGuckian's manuscript notebooks, as well as works by poets Paul Muldoon and Derek Mahon; novelists Edna O'Brien, William Trevor and John Banville; and the playwrights, Brian Friel and Sebastian Barry.
"To Set the Darkness Echoing:" An Exhibition of Irish Literature, 1950-2000 has been conceived as a sequel to the Grolier Club's 1962 exhibition The Indomitable Irishry, which focused on Irish literature from Yeats' Mosada (1886) through Patrick Kavanagh's The Great Hunger (1942). The current exhibition draws on the extensive Irish literary collections of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of Emory University, as well as on other institutional and private collections. It has been curated by Grolier members James O'Halloran, Ronald Schuchard and Stephen Enniss.
An illustrated checklist of the exhibition is available.