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Photograph of Aidan  Higgins

Aidan Higgins

Born in Celbridge, Co. Kildare in 1927. Sojourns abroad in Spain, South Africa, North and South Rhodesia, Berlin and London inform much of his work, including three autobiographies, Donkey's Years (1996), Dog Days (1998) and The Whole Hog (2000), subsequently published in one volume, A Bestiary (2004). His radio plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and RTÉ. In 2001, he was conferred with an honorary doctorate of letters by the National University of Ireland (Cork). He is married and lives in Kinsale.

His first collection of stories, Felo de Se (1960) was recommended by Samuel Beckett to his London publisher, John Calder, and subsequently published by Grove Press in New York and by Beckett’s own publisher in Paris.

His first novel, Langrishe Go Down (1966), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Irish Academy of Letters Award, and was made into a film with a screenplay by Harold Pinter. Other awards include the Irish America Foundation Grant and DAAD (Berlin). Later novels include Balcony of Europe (1972), which was short-listed for the Booker Prize, Scenes from a Receding Past (1977), Bornholm Night-Ferry (1983) and Lions of the Grunewald (1993). His collected stories, Flotsam and Jetsam followed in 1996.

 

Aosdána mourns the death of Aidan Higgins

Aosdána notes with sadness the death of Aidan Higgins, a founder member of Aosdána in 1981. As well as being an outstanding novelist and short story writer, Higgins was one of the great prose stylists of the 20th century, a pioneering modernist in direct descent from James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.

Born in Celbridge, Co Kildare, in 1927, he moved to London in the mid 1950s and then lived in Spain, South Africa, Germany, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Denmark and the United States, all of which he depicted in fiction and in travel writing. His first novel, Langrishe Go Down (1966), widely regarded as his masterpiece, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Irish Academy of Letters Award, and was dramatised for television by Harold Pinter in 1978. His second novel, Balcony of Europe, was published in 1972, and was recently re-issued in a revised edition by the Dalkey Archive press in the United States. His first collection of stories, Felo de Se, was published in 1960 on the recommendation of Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett. His three volumes of autobiography, Donkey’s Years (1996), Dog Days (1998) and The Whole Hog (2000), were also recently republished by the Dalkey Archive Press under the title A Bestiary.
Higgins, who returned to Ireland to live in Kinsale in 1986, continued to work diligently, although afflicted by increasing blindness and ill-health. His last book, Darkling Plains: Texts for the Air, was published in 2010.

Aosdána offers our sympathies to his wife, Alannah Hopkins and his three children.

December 2015

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