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 Denis Johnston

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Denis Johnston

Author. William Denis Johnston was born in Dublin, the only son of a judge. He was educated at St. Andrew's College in Dublin, at Christ's College in Cambridge (where he was President of the Union) and at Harvard, where he was a Pugsley Scholar. In 1925, he was called to both the English Bar (at the Inner Temple) and the Irish Bar. His play "Shadowdance" was rejected by Lady Gregory for the Abbey Theatre, but he re-wrote it as "The Old Lady Says 'NO!'," under which revised title it was, in 1929, an enormous success at the Gate Theatre. Many more plays followed over the next three decades. From 1931 to 1936, he was a director of the Gate; he then joined the B.B.C. and, during the Second World War, was their war correspondent in the Middle East, Italy, France and Germany. He was mentioned in despatches and, in 1946, was awarded the O.B.E. He wrote about his wartime experiences in "Nine Rivers from Jordan" (1953). A later volume was "The Brazen Horn" (1977). He is also known as the author of biographies of Jonathan Swift ("In Search of Swift," 1959) and J.M. Synge (1965). From 1950 to 1960, he held the chair of Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and taught at several other American universities during the 1960s and 1970s. He was married twice: firstly, in 1928, to Shelah Kathleen Richards, with whom he had one son and one daughter, the novelist Jennifer Johnston (b. 1930). That marriage was dissolved and, in 1945, he married Betty Chancellor, with whom he had two sons and with whom he is buried.

Bio by: Iain MacFarlaine


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Iain MacFarlaine
  • Added: 14 Apr 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10784482
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Denis Johnston (18 Jun 1901–8 Aug 1984), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10784482, citing Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland ; Maintained by Find A Grave .