Cover image for The history of The ginger man
The history of The ginger man
Donleavy, J. P. (James Patrick), 1926-
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin ; New York : Seymour Lawrence, 1994.
Physical Description:
517 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3507.O686 G563 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order


Author Notes

J. P. Donleavy was born James Patrick Donleavy Jr. in Brooklyn, New York on April 23, 1926. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he studied microbiology at Trinity College in Dublin. His first novel, The Ginger Man, was published in 1955. His other novels included A Singular Man, The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B., The Onion Eaters, A Fairy Tale of New York, The Lady Who Liked Clean Rest Rooms, Wrong Information Is Being Given Out at Princeton, and The Destinies of Darcy Dancer, Gentleman. He also wrote nonfiction books including The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual of Survival and Manners and plays including The Beastly Beatitudes. He was an accomplished painter and had exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic, including a show at the National Arts Club in Manhattan in 2007. He died from a stroke on September 11, 2017 at the age of 91.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

With the Olympia Press' issuing of Donleavy's first and best-known work, The Ginger Man, an interminable, 21-year legal battle ensued between author and publisher. The distinctive cadences of Donleavy's prose enliven this autobiographical account that meanders through the years leading up to the appearance of his book in print and subsequent altercation between publishers. From Dublin's Trinity College to a dismal row house in London's Fulham district, Donleavy recalls the settings of his struggles as a writer while supporting a young family. Accompanying him on numerous pub-crawling jaunts amid fisticuffs are the likes of Brendan Behan and a colorful cast of characters--many of whom were the basis for characters in The Ginger Man. Other literati (Edna O' Brien, Muriel Spark, etc.) help animate the rambling narrative. Toward the end of the book, the pace picks up, engaging the reader more fully in the ups and downs of Donleavy's literary career in the making. ~--Alice Joyce

Publisher's Weekly Review

From the author of The Ginger Man comes a history of that novel from its inception to its British publication in 1956. And, like The Ginger Man , it is a blasphemous read, mainly because many of the characters who inhabit the novel are here. Readers will be struck by the major role played by Brendan Behan, Donleavy's editor and tipster who knew a publisher willing to take on The Ginger Man. In 1952 Donleavy, with his wife and child left Ireland, where he had lived after graduating from Trinity, to return home to New York City. In the U.S., after becoming depressed over McCarthyism and over the many rejections of his manuscript, he and his family headed to England. It was there that Behan suggested that the manuscript be submitted to Olympia Press in Paris, the publisher of Samuel Beckett. To Donleavy's outrage, The Ginger Man appeared under Olympia's Traveller's Companion Series, a pornographic imprint. After much legal haggling over ownership of the British and American rights, the novel was published in Britain, and Donleavy outmaneuvered Maurice Giroudias to become the owner of Olympia Press and, in his own words, ended up ``actually in litigation with myself.'' An interesting, if at times self-serving study of author and work that will appeal only to Donleavy's most dedicated fans. Photos. Author tour. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Donleavy is a gifted storyteller, and this memoir is as vivid and entertaining as the The Ginger Man itself. Donleavy recounts the four years he spent writing this popular novel in Ireland and America, describing his real-life adventures with the likes of Gainor Stephen Crist, the model for protagonist Sebastian Dangerfield, and the infamous playwright Brendan Behan, among others. As in the novel, drinking, fighting, and sex figure prominently. Donleavy also relates his struggle to find a publisher for a book that many people by 1950s standards considered obscene. After 35 rejections he finally found success with the Olympia Press in Paris, but the affair turned into a bitter 25-year legal battle. Recommended for contemporary literature collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/93.-- William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.