The author and literary scholar Colm Tóibín will deliver the 2010 Leslie Stephen Lecture on “The Dark Sixteenth Century” on Monday, 1 November.

The lecture will take place in the Senate-House at 17.30 and is open to all (Senior members of the University attending should wear gowns and Doctors wear scarlet).

It will examine the fraught relationship between English poetry and the island of Ireland in the sixteenth century, focusing on the town of Enniscorthy in south-east Ireland.

Enniscorthy was briefly owned by Edmund Spencer and was inhabited for 20 years by Lodovick Bryskett, another literary figure of the English Renaissance who was close to Spencer.

The lecture will trace their relationship to both poetry and the colonial enterprise in Ireland, and then deal with the slow emergence of poetry written in English by natives of the town – the descendants of families whom the English poets themselves viewed as barbarous.

The Lectures have usually been given every other year since 1907 and honour the memory of Sir Leslie Stephen (1832 – 1904), the British philosopher and man of letters who became the first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.

Sir Leslie was a Fellow and Tutor, and then later Honorary Fellow, of Trinity Hall. The Lecture, which continues to have a strong link with the college, was endowed by his friends, with the specification that it be on “some literary subject, including therein criticism, biography and ethics.” The 2008 Lecture was given by the biographer Claire Tomalin.

Colm Tóibín was born in 1955 and currently lives in Dublin. He is the Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Studies at Princeton. A graduate of University College Dublin, he made his early career as an award-winning journalist and travel-writer, lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978, and travelled in Africa and South America.

His novel, “The Blackwater Lightship” was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, as was “The Master”, which won the LA Times Prize for Fiction. Other awards include The Dublin IMPAC Prize, The Prix du Meilleur Livre and The Edge Hill Prize. His novel 'Brooklyn' won the 2009 Costa Novel Award. A new collection of stories 'The Empty Family' has just been published and a collection of essays on Henry James, 'All a Novelist Needs' is due out in November.

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