Image of James Stephens


Lifetime: 1880 - 1950 Passed: ≈ 73 years ago


Novelist, Poet



James Stephens

James Stephens was an Irish novelist and poet.

James Stephens' birth is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Stephens himself claimed to have been born on the same day and same year as James Joyce (2 February 1882), whereas he is in fact probably the same James Stephens who is on record as being born at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, on 9 February 1880, the son of Francis Stephens (c. 1840–1882/3) of 5 Thomas's Court, Dublin, a vanman and a messenger for a stationer's office, and his wife, Charlotte Collins (b. c. 1847). His father died when Stephens was two years old, and when he was six years old, his mother remarried, and Stephens was committed to the Meath Protestant Industrial School for Boys in Blackrock for begging on the streets, where he spent much of the rest of his childhood. He attended school with his adoptive brothers Thomas and Richard (Tom and Dick) Collins before graduating as a solicitor's clerk. They competed and won several athletic competitions despite James' tiny stature (he stood 4'10" in his socks). He was known affectionately as 'Tiny Tim'. He was much enthralled by the tales of military valour of his adoptive family and would have become a soldier except for his height.

James Stephens produced many retellings of Irish myths. His retellings are marked by a rare combination of humour and lyricism (Deirdre, (a legendary figure), and Irish Fairy Tales are often especially praised). He also wrote several original novels (The Crock of Gold, Etched in Moonlight, Demi-Gods) based loosely on Irish wonder tales. The Crock of Gold in particular has achieved enduring popularity and has often been reprinted.

During the last decade of his life Stephens found a new audience through a series of broadcasts on the BBC.

Books by James Stephens

The Insurrection in Dublin  Cover image

The Insurrection in Dublin

Political Science
History Independence Politics

The Easter Rising was a rebellion staged in Ireland in Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was an attempt by militant Irish republicans to win independence from Britain by force of arms. This account was written by Irish novelist James Stephens, who lived...

The Crock of Gold Cover image

The Crock of Gold

Fiction Novel
Murder History Battle Comics Culture Sex Humorous Fiction Heritage Mountains

This is a comic novel written by Irish author James Stephens, a quick-witted storyteller whose pantheistic philosophy is revealed in his adult Irish fairy tales. His first novel, The Charwoman's Daughter (1911), humorously examines the life and fanta...

Mongan's Frenzy Cover image

Mongan's Frenzy

Fairy Tale
Children Myths Childhood Legends Fun Folk lore

The book is a retelling of traditional Irish myths and legends, featuring mythical heroes and gods, as well as enchanting creatures like leprechauns and banshees. The stories in the book are meant to entertain and enchant, while also offering insight...

The Fifteen Acres Cover image

The Fifteen Acres

Nature Poems Life Relationships Verses Fortnightly

It tells the story of a piece of land and the people who live and work on it. The poem follows the changing seasons, from the lush growth of spring to the barrenness of winter, and examines the relationship between humans and the natural world. Writ...

Deirdre Cover image


Romance Fiction
Love Imagery Tragedy Mythology Historical Fiction Fate Destiny Prose Poetry Folk lore Human Emotions

It is a captivating book that unfolds an enthralling tale of love, destiny, and tragedy. Written with poetic prose and rich imagery, this timeless story captures the hearts of readers, transporting them to a world of ancient legends and extraordinary...

The Demi-Gods Cover image

The Demi-Gods

Fiction Novel
Power Children Adventure Narrative Myths Childhood Legends God Magic Imagination

James Stephens' enchanting novel, The Demi-Gods, transports readers into a realm where imagination reigns supreme. Set against the backdrop of an Irish countryside, this captivating story follows a group of children who embark on an extraordinary adv...