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Edward Martyn

The Heather Field; A Play in Three Acts

Edward Martyn, 1859 -1923.
The Heather Field
Chicago: De Paul University, 1966.
PR 6025 .M74 H4 1966

Edward Martyn was one of the founders of the Irish Literary Theatre, and provided much of the capital needed to launch the fledgling theatre. His The Heather Field was one of the first two plays performed by the theatre (1899). The other was W.B. Yeats’s The Countess Cathleen. Of the two, Martyn’s The Heather Field was more popular with the public. It is the only play by Martyn that continues to be highly-regarded by readers and critics.

Although a founding member of the theatre, Martyn did not remain with the organization for long. Yeats and Lady Gregory did not ask him to help reorganize the theatre as the Abbey. A rift had developed between Yeats and Martyn regarding the direction of the theatre; Yeats believed strongly that the theatre should focus on the peasant play and strictly Irish drama, while Martyn envisioned a more continental scope with a focus on Irish drama.

In the years following his association with Yeats and the Irish Literary Theatre, Martyn served as president of Sinn Fein, and worked actively on the Gaelic League’s efforts to promote the use of the Irish language.