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Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany

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Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany (July 24, 1878October 25, 1957) was an Irish writer and dramatist. Lord Dunsany is notable as a fantasy and horror writer.



Edward Plunkett was the son of John William Plunkett, 17th Baron Dunsany (18531899) and his wife Ernle Grosvenor. He was a relative of the Roman Catholic Saint Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh. The Countess of Fingall, wife of Dunsany's cousin the Earl of Fingall , wrote a best-selling account of the life of the aristocracy in Ireland in the late 19th century and early 20th century, called Seventy Years Young.

Lord Dunsany was educated at Eton College and Sandhurst. He served as an officer in the Coldstream Guards during the Boer War and in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in World War I. He was a keen huntsman and sportsman, and was at one time the chess and pistol champion of Ireland.

His fame arose, however, from his prolific writing of short stories, novels, plays and poetry, reportedly mostly written with a quill pen. Whether or not he did this for his original manuscripts, he transcribed a number of works in this manner and bound them himself. These books are in the family collection.


His most notable fantasy short stories were published in collections from 1905 to 1919: he had to pay for publication of the first, The Gods of Pegana. The stories were set within an invented world, with its own gods, history and geography. His significance within the genre of fantasy writing is considerable.

The following is the opening paragraph of The Hoard of the Gibbelins (first published in The Book of Wonder in 1912), which gives a good indication of both tone and tenor of Dunsany's work:

The Gibbelins eat, as is well known, nothing less good than man. Their evil tower is joined to Terra Cognita, to the lands we know, by a bridge. Their hoard is beyond reason; avarice has no use for it; they have a separate cellar for emeralds and a separate cellar for sapphires; they have filled a hole with gold and dig it up when they need it. And the only use that is known for their ridiculous wealth is to attract to their larder a continual supply of food. In times of famine they have even been known to scatter rubies abroad, a little trail of them to some city of Man, and sure enough their larders would soon be full again.

Writers influenced by Dunsany

H. P. Lovecraft was greatly impressed by Dunsany after seeing him on a speaking tour of the United States, and Lovecraft's early stories clearly show his influence.

Fletcher Pratt's 1948 novel The Well of the Unicorn was written as a sequel to Dunsany's play King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior.


The catalogue of everything that Dunsany wrote during a 50-year writing career is quite extensive, and is especially fraught with pitfalls, owing to two things: first, Dunsany's many original books of collected short stories were later followed by numerous reprint collections that included some of this and some of that but nothing new; and second, many later collections bore titles distressingly similar to somewhat different original books.

The following is a partial list compiled from various sources.

Short-story collections


  • The Gods of Pegana (1905)
  • Time and the Gods (1906)
  • The Sword of Welleran (1908)
  • A Dreamer's Tales (1910)
  • The Book of Wonder (1912)
  • Fifty-one Tales, aka The Food of Death (1915)
  • Tales of Wonder (1916) (published in America as The Last Book of Wonder)
  • Tales of Three Hemispheres (1919)
  • The Man Who Ate the Phoenix (1947)
  • The Little Tales of Smethers (1952)
  • The Ghosts of the Heaviside Layer and Other Fantasms (1980)

Reprint Collections

  • Selections from the Writings of Lord Dunsany (1912)
  • A Dreamer's Tales & Other Stories (1917)
  • Book of Wonder (1918)
  • The Sword of Welleran and Other Tales of Enchantment (1954)
  • At the Edge of the World (1970)
  • Beyond the Fields We Know (1972)
  • Gods, Men and Ghosts (1972)
  • Over the Hills and Far Away (1974)
  • Bethmoora and Other Stories (1993)
  • The Exiles Club and Other Stories (1993)
  • The Lands of Wonder (1994)
  • The Hashish Man and Other Stories (1996)
  • Time and the Gods (2000)
  • In the Land of Time (2004)


The Jorkens books were of a type popular in fantasy and science fiction writing: the gentlemen's club, where extremely improbable tales are related; they consist of:

  • The Travel Tales of Mr Joseph Jorkens (1931)
  • Jorkens Remembers Africa (1934)
  • Jorkens Has a Large Whiskey (1940)
  • The Fourth Book of Jorkens (1948)
  • Jorkens Borrows Another Whiskey (1954)
  • The Last Book of Jorkens (recently discovered and soon to be published)



  • Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley aka The Chronicles of Rodrigues (1922)
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924)
  • The Charwoman's Shadow (1926), second part of the Shadow Valley Chronicles
  • The Blessing of Pan (1927)
  • The Curse of the Wise Woman (1933)
  • My Talks with Dean Spanley (1936)
  • The Strange Journeys of Colonel Polders (1950)


  • Up in the Hills (1935)
  • Rory and Bran (1936)
  • The Story of Mona Sheehy (1939)
  • Guerilla (1944)
  • The Last Revolution (1951)
  • His Fellow Men (1952)
  • The Pleasures of a Futuroscope (2003)

Drama Collections

  • Five Plays (1914)
  • Plays of Gods and Men (1917)
  • If (full-length play) (1921)
  • Plays of Near and Far (1922)
  • Alexander and Three Small Plays (1925)
  • Seven Modern Comedies (1928)
  • The Old Folk of the Centuries (full-length play) (1930)
  • Mr Faithful (full-length play) (1935)
  • Plays for Earth and Air (1937)


Essays and Sketches

  • Nowadays (1918)
  • Tales of War (1918)
  • Unhappy Far-Off Things (1919)
  • If I Were Dictator (1934)
  • My Ireland (1937)
  • The Donnellan Lectures 1943 (1945)
  • A Glimpse from a Watchtower (1947)



Millennium Fantasy Masterworks

  • Time and the Gods (Collection containing The Gods of Pegana, Time and the Gods, The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories, A Dreamer's Tales, The Book of Wonder and The Last Book of Wonder)
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter


  • Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley
  • Plays of Gods and Men
  • The Book of Wonder
  • Fifty-One Tales
  • A Dreamer's Tales
  • Tales of War: Expanded Edition
  • Time and the Gods
  • The Gods of Pegana
  • Unhappy Far-Off Things

Night Shade Books

  • The Collected Jorkens (three volume set)
Preceded by:
John William Plunkett
Baron Dunsany Followed by:
Randal Plunkett

External links

Last updated: 06-02-2005 12:27:03
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46