THE PERSONAL AND family archive of author and painter Christy Brown was bought at auction today by the National Library of Ireland and the Little Museum of Dublin.
The collection, comprising papers, paintings, books and personal effects, was sold for €44,733 at Bonham’s auction house in London today.
The development was welcomed by Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan.
“I am delighted that this valuable collection will now be housed permanently in Dublin, Christy Brown’s home town,” he said in a statement.
“Christy Brown was an amazing individual who overcame great personal difficulties, to become one of Ireland’s best known authors and painters.
“Of course, his fame spread even farther as his extraordinary story achieved worldwide fame in the Oscar winning movie, My Left Foot.”
He congratulated the Acting Director of the National Library of Ireland, Catherine Fahy and the Director of the Little Museum of Dublin, Trevor White for ensuring the collection will be preserved and made accessible to residents and visitors to Ireland.
Deenihan added that he looks forward to an exhibition of the material “in the near future”.
Brown was born in 1932. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and learned how to draw and write using his left foot.
He died in 1981, aged 49.
The collection includes:
- an early copybook containing “Poems of a Primitive”, unpublished poems dictated to his brothers, which pre-date My Left Foot;
- a group of nearly thirty poems in manuscript and typescript;
- two unpublished typescript short stories;
- the publication typescript of his last novel, A Promising Career, with covering letters by his publishers;
- typescript of an unpublished play, Mrs Brennan;
- some 100 pages of partial drafts and segments of mostly unidentified prose works, typescripts with revisions and deletions, including a draft of the second part of A Shadow On Summer (14 pages), and about 80 pages of mainly discarded or rewritten pages from prose works, some with notes by Christy Brown or his editor David Farrer, with deletions;
- typescript drafts of sections of several of his later novels;
- 27 typescript poems sent to Katriona Maguire (and dated by her);
- other poems sent to his brother Sean;
- cyclostyled text of the BBC adaption of My Left Foot, broadcast in 1954 (but not longer extant, with neither recording nor text held by the BBC today).
There are also more than 40 letters to Katriona Delahunt (later Maguire), the social worker who was the first person outside the Brown family to foster his talents as an artist and writer.
There is also a 1945 watercolour inscribed with the words:
“…I am writing this letter with a mixed feeling of regret and determination: regret as this is the last letter I shall write for the next five years; determined to write the next letter with my hands. Am I mad, you wonder? The answer is no. I flew to London with my mother yesterday…”
The NLI confirmed the acquisition was possible through financial support provided by an Irish company, Direct Medical.
Fahy said the National Library of Ireland would preserve and store the archive, and that elements of it would be incorporated into exhibitions at the Little Museum of Dublin.