Image of Lord Dunsany


Lifetime: 1878 - 1957 Passed: ≈ 66 years ago




Ireland, England

Lord Dunsany

Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany was an Anglo-Irish writer and dramatist, who was published mostly as Lord Dunsany. Over 90 books of his work, mainly fantasy, appeared in his lifetime and both his original work and compilations have continued to appear. His œuvre includes several hundred short stories, as well as plays, novels and essays. He gained fame with his early stories and plays and was seen in the 1910s as one of the great living writers of the English-speaking world. He is best known today for his 1924 fantasy novel The King of Elfland's Daughter and for The Gods of Pegāna, in which he devised a fictional pantheon and laid the groundwork for the fantasy genre.

Dunsany's fame arose chiefly from his prolific writings. He was involved in the Irish Literary Revival. Supporting the Revival, Dunsany was a major donor to the Abbey Theatre and he moved in Irish literary circles. He was well acquainted with W. B. Yeats (who rarely acted as editor but gathered and published a Dunsany selection), Lady Gregory, Percy French, "AE" Russell, Oliver St John Gogarty, Padraic Colum (with whom he jointly wrote a play) and others. He befriended and supported Francis Ledwidge, to whom he gave the use of his library, and Mary Lavin.


Dunsany made his first literary tour to the United States in 1919 and further such visits up to the 1950s, in the early years mostly to the eastern seaboard and later, notably, to California.

Dunsany's own work and contribution to the Irish literary heritage were recognised with an honorary degree from Trinity College, Dublin.

Born in London to the second-oldest title (created 1439) in the Irish peerage, and raised there and in Kent, Dunsany lived much of his life at what may be Ireland's longest inhabited house, Dunsany Castle near Tara, though he later retired to Shoreham in Kent, only visiting Ireland. He worked with W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, received an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin, was chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland, and travelled and hunted extensively. Dunsany also invented an asymmetrical version of chess called Dunsany's chess. He died in Dublin of appendicitis.

Edward Plunkett (Dunsany), known to his family as "Eddie," was the first son of John William Plunkett, 17th Baron of Dunsany (1853–1899), and his wife, Ernle Elizabeth Louisa Maria Grosvenor Ernle-Erle-Drax, née Ernle Elizabeth Louisa Maria Grosvenor Burton (1855–1916).

In 1903, he met Lady Beatrice Child Villiers (1880–1970), youngest daughter of The 7th Earl of Jersey (head of the Jersey banking family), who was then living at Osterley Park. They married in 1904. Their one child, Randal, was born in 1906. Beatrice was supportive of Dunsany's interests and helped him by typing his manuscripts, with selecting work for his collections, including the 1954 retrospective short story collection, and overseeing his literary heritage after his death.

Dunsany served as a second lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards in the Second Boer War. Volunteering in the First World War and appointed Captain in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, he was stationed for a time at Ebrington Barracks in Derry. Hearing while on leave of disturbances in Dublin during the Easter Rising of 1916, he drove in to offer help and was wounded by a bullet lodged in his skull. After recovery at Jervis Street Hospital and what was then the King George V Hospital (now St. Bricin's Military Hospital), he returned to duty. His military belt was lost in the episode and later used at the burial of Michael Collins. Having been refused forward positioning in 1916 and listed as valuable as a trainer, he served in the later war stages in the trenches and in the final period writing propaganda material for the War Office with MI7b(1). There is a book at Dunsany Castle with wartime photographs, on which lost members of his command are marked.

In 1957, Lord Dunsany became ill while eating with the Earl and Countess of Fingall at Dunsany, in what proved to be an attack of appendicitis, and died in hospital in Dublin at the age of 79.

Books by Lord Dunsany

The Book of Wonder Cover image

The Book of Wonder

Fantasy Fiction
Short Story

The Book of Wonder is the seventh book and fifth original short story collection of Irish fantasy writer Lord Dunsany, considered a major influence on the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, Ursula K. Le Guin, and others. It was first publishe...

Tales of War Cover image

Tales of War

Military Fantastique Travel Journey Magic Imagination

It features stories that explore the horrors and consequences of war. The book contains a collection of 16 short stories that take readers on a journey through various conflicts and battles. Each story offers a unique perspective on war and the impac...

The Charwoman's Shadow Cover image

The Charwoman's Shadow

Romance Action Fiction Novel
Mystery Adventure Young adult fiction Self-Discovery Friendship Challenges Identity Magic Imagination Inspirational Fantasy Twists Shadow

It is a captivating novel that tells the story of a young boy named Joseph who is fascinated by the shadows of the people around him. One day, he meets a charwoman who has lost her own shadow, and together they embark on a magical adventure to find i...

Time and the Gods Cover image

Time and the Gods

Lord Dunsany (24 July 1878 – 25 October 1957) was a London-born Anglo-Irish writer and dramatist notable for his work in fantasy. He was influenced by Algernon Swinburne, who wrote the line "Time and the Gods are at strife" in his 1866 poem "Hymn to...

Fifty-One Tales Cover image

Fifty-One Tales

Very brief, well-crafted stories, many having surprise endings, all steeped in the dye of myth and calling to every reader's neglected imagination. (Summary by Thomas Copeland)

Gods of Pegāna Cover image

Gods of Pegāna

"The Gods of Pegāna" is the first book by Anglo-Irish fantasy writer Lord Dunsany, published on a commission basis in 1905... The book is a series of short stories linked by Dunsany's invented pantheon of deities who dwell in Pegāna. It was followed...

Tales of Three Hemispheres Cover image

Tales of Three Hemispheres

Tales of Three Hemispheres is a collection of fantasy short stories by Lord Dunsany. The first edition was published in Boston by John W. Luce & Co. in November, 1919; the first British edition was published in London by T. Fisher Unwin in June, 1920...

Sword of Welleran and Other Stories Cover image

Sword of Welleran and Other Stories

The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories is the third book by Irish fantasy writer Lord Dunsany, considered a major influence on the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, Ursula K. Le Guin and others. It was first published in hardcover by George...

Dreamer's Tales Cover image

Dreamer's Tales

"A Dreamer's Tales" is the fifth book by Irish fantasy writer Lord Dunsany, considered a major influence on the work of H. P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock and others. "A Dreamer's Tales" is a collection of sixteen...

Unhappy Far-Off Things Cover image

Unhappy Far-Off Things

Better known today for his influential fantasy writings, Lord Dunsany also wrote a number of sketches during World War One. This compilation of essays written from time spent in France in 1916. Much more thoughtful and melancholy than the pieces writ...

Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley Cover image

Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley

A coming of age story blended with a swashbuckling road trip through an mythical "golden age" of Spain. The titular character is excluded from the inheritance of the family castle on the grounds that given his expertise with sword and mandolin he sho...

King of Elfland's Daughter Cover image

King of Elfland's Daughter

This is a 1924 fantasy novel by Anglo-Irish writer Lord Dunsany, which became public domain in January 2020. It is widely recognized as one of the most acclaimed works in all of fantasy literature. Highly influential upon the fantasy genre as a whole...