Robert Wilson Lynd

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Caricature of Robert Lynd, 1928.

Robert Wilson Lynd (Irish: Roibéard Ó Floinn, 20 April 1879 – 6 October 1949) was an Irish writer, an urbane literary essayist and strong Irish nationalist.

Life and career[edit]

He was born in Belfast and educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, studying at Queen's University. His background was Protestant, his father being a Presbyterian Church Moderator.

He began as a journalist on "The Northern Whig" in Belfast. He moved to London in 1901, via Manchester, sharing accommodation with his friend the artist Paul Henry. Firstly he wrote drama criticism, for "Today", edited by Jerome K. Jerome. He also wrote for the "Daily News" (later the News Chronicle), being its literary editor 1912 to 1947.[1]

He settled in Hampstead, in Keats Grove near the John Keats house. The Lynds were well known as literary hosts, in the group including J. B. Priestley. They were on good terms also with Hugh Walpole; Priestley, Walpole and Sylvia Lynd were founding committee members of the Book Society.[1] Irish guests included James Joyce and James Stephens. On one occasion reported by Victor Gollancz, Joyce intoned Anna Livia Plurabelle to his own piano accompaniment.

He used the pseudonym Y.Y. (Ys, or wise) in writing for the New Statesman. According to C. H. Rolph's Kingsley (1973), Lynd's weekly essay, which ran from 1913 to 1945, was 'irreplaceable'. In 1941, editor Kingsley Martin decided to alternate it with pieces by James Bridie on Ireland, but the experiment was not at all a success. Lynd died in 1949 and is buried in Belfast City Cemetery.


He became a fluent Irish speaker, and Gaelic League member. As a Sinn Féin activist, he used the name Robiard Ó Flionn/Roibeard Ua Flionn.[2]

He wrote for The Republic in its early days. He spoke at the funeral in 1916 of Irish Republican and Marxist James Connolly, whose works Labour in Ireland, Labour in Irish History and The Re-Conquest of Ireland he subsequently edited. He was also a loyal friend of Roger Casement.


He married the writer Sylvia Dryhurst, whom he met at Gaelic League meetings in London, in 1909. Their daughters Máire and Sigle became close friends of Isaiah Berlin. Sigle's son, born in 1941, is the artist Tim Wheeler [2].


  • The Mantle Of The Emperor (1906) [with Lionel Ladbroke Day Black]
  • Irish and English (1908)
  • Home Life in Ireland (1909)
  • Rambles in Ireland (1912)
  • The Book of This and That (1915)
  • If the Germans Conquered England (1917)
  • Old and New Masters (1919)
  • Ireland a Nation (1919)
  • The Art of Letters (1920)
  • The Passion of Labour (1920) New Statesman articles
  • The Pleasures of Ignorance (1921)
  • Solomon in All His Glory (1922)
  • The Sporting Life and Other Trifles (1922)
  • Books and Authors (1922)
  • The Blue Lion (1923)
  • Selected Essays (1923)
  • The Peal of Bells (1924)
  • The Money Box (1925)
  • The Orange Tree (1926)
  • The Little Angel (1926)
  • Dr. Johnson and Company (1927)
  • The Goldfish (1927)
  • The Silver Books of English Sonnets (1927) editor
  • The Green Man (1928)
  • It's a Fine World (1930)
  • Rain, Rain, go to Spain (1931)
  • Great Love Stories of All Nations (1932) editor
  • "Y.Y." An Anthology of Essays (1933)
  • The Cockleshell (1933)
  • Both Sides of the Road (1934)
  • I Tremble to Think (1936)
  • In Defence of Pink (1937)
  • Searchlights and Nightingales (1939)
  • An Anthology of Modern Poetry (1939) editor
  • Life's Little Oddities (1941) illustrated by Steven Spurrier
  • Further Essays of Robert Lynd (1942)
  • Things One Hears (1945) illustrated by Claire Oldham
  • Essays on Life and Literature (1951)
  • Books and Writers (1952)
  • Essays by Robert Lynd (1959)
  • Galway of the Races – Selected essays (1990) edited by Sean McMahon

Robert Lynd's Anthology of Modern Poetry (1939)[edit]

Lynd was a long-serving literary editor at the News Chronicle. Himself a minor poet, and married to Sylvia Lynd who was widely published, his sympathies as shown in this selection were most largely with figures from the Irish literary revival, and the Georgian poets. The book was published by Methuen, who had produced a sequence of anthologies in the 1920s and 1930s; Lynd had introduced the very popular 1924 selection by Algernon Methuen himself, called An Anthology of Modern Verse. Subsequently the firm had produced an anthology edited jointly by Cecil Day-Lewis and L. A. G. Strong. Poets included in Lynd's book were:

Lascelles AbercrombieMartin ArmstrongW. H. AudenMaurice BaringHilaire BellocLaurence BinyonEdmund BlundenGordon BottomleyLilian Bowes LyonRobert BridgesRupert BrookeJoseph CampbellRoy CampbellG. K. ChestertonRichard ChurchAustin ClarkePadraic ColumFrances CornfordMargaret CropperCharles DalmonW. H. DaviesEdward DavisonC. Day-LewisWalter de la MareLord Alfred DouglasJohn DrinkwaterClifford DymentA. E.T. S. EliotJames Elroy FleckerViola GarvinMonk GibbonStella GibbonsW. W. GibsonOliver GogartyLouis GoldingGerald GouldBryan GuinnessGeorge Rostrevor HamiltonThomas HardyChristopher HassallF. R. HigginsRalph HodgsonGerard Manley HopkinsA. E. HousmanAldous HuxleyDouglas HydeJames JoyceFrank KendonT. M. KettleRudyard KiplingD. H. LawrenceFrancis LedwidgeEiluned LewisF. L. LucasSylvia LyndThomas MacDonaghLouis MacneiceJohn MasefieldCharlotte MewAlice MeynellAlice MilliganHarold MonroT. Sturge MooreSir Henry NewboltRobert NicholsAlfred NoyesFrank O'ConnorMoira O'NeillSeamus O'SullivanWilfred OwenHerbert PalmerPadraic H. PearseRuth PitterHugh Gordon PorteusSir Arthur Quiller-CouchHerbert ReadErnest RhysRichard RowleyV. Sackville-WestSiegfried SassoonEdward ShanksFredegond ShoveEdith SitwellStanley SnaithCharles H. SorleyStephen SpenderSir John SquireWilliam Force SteadJames StephensL. A. G. StrongDylan ThomasEdward ThomasEdward ThompsonHerbert TrenchW. J. TurnerKatharine TynanSir William WatsonDorothy WellesleyEvelyn UnderhillSir Robert VansittartSylvia Townsend WarnerCharles WilliamsHumbert WolfeW. B. YeatsAndrew YoungFrancis Brett Young

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robert and Sylvia were considered 'powerful' figures of London literary life: Sarah LeFanu, Rose Macaulay (2003), p.153.
  2. ^ See biography at Dictionary of Ulster Biography.


External links[edit]