Molly Keane

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Molly Keane (20 July 1904 – 22 April 1996)[1] was an Irish novelist and playwright (born Mary Nesta Skrine in Ryston Cottage,Newbridge, County Kildare). She grew up at Ballyrankin in County Wexford and was educated at a boarding school in Bray, County Wicklow.[2] She married Bobby Keane, one of a Waterford squirearchical family in 1938 [1] and had two daughters. She used her married name for her later novels, several of which (Good Behaviour, Time After Time) have been adapted for television. Between 1928 and 1956, she wrote 11 novels, and some of her earlier plays, under the pseudonym M.J. Farrell.[3] Molly was a member of Aosdána.[4] Her husband died suddenly in 1946, and following the failure of a play she published nothing for twenty years. In 1981 Good Behaviour came out under her own name; the manuscript, which had languished in a drawer for many years, was lent to a visitor, the actress Peggy Ashcroft, who encouraged Keane to publish it. The novel was warmly received and was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.[5]

After the death of her husband, Molly Keane moved to Ardmore, County Waterford, a place she knew well, and lived there with her two daughters, Sally and Virginia, until she died in 1996. She is buried beside the Church of Ireland church, almost in the centre of the village.[6]


Novels as "M. J. Farrell":

  • The Knight of Cheerful Countenance (1926)
  • Young Entry (1928)
  • Taking Chances (1929)
  • Mad Puppetstown (1931)
  • Conversation Piece (1932)
  • Devoted Ladies (1934)
  • Full House (1935)
  • The Rising Tide (1937)
  • Two Days in Aragon (1941)
  • Loving Without Tears (1951)
  • Treasure Hunt (1952)

Novels as "Molly Keane":

  • Good Behaviour (1981)
  • Time After Time (1983)
  • Loving and Giving (1988) (alternatively titled Queen Lear)

Plays (as "M.J. Farrell"):

  • Spring Meeting (1938) with John Perry. Filmed in 1941
  • Ducks and Drakes (1942)
  • Treasure Hunt (1949) (on which the novel was later based)
  • Dazzling Prospect (1961)

Further reading[edit]

  • Kierstead, Mary D. (13 October 1986). "Profiles: A great old breakerawayer". The New Yorker. 62 (34): 97–112. 

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Who's Who 1987
  2. ^ Picnic in a Foreign Land by Ann Morrow, Grafton Books 1990
  3. ^ "David Higham Client Entry". Retrieved 16 September 2006. 
  4. ^ "Information For Writers and Producers of Radio Drama". Archived from the original on 25 September 2005. Retrieved 16 September 2006. 
  5. ^ "About the prize". Archived from the original on 27 August 2006. Retrieved 16 September 2006. 
  6. ^ Irish Times, 20 August 2008, page 13: An Irishman's Diary, Hugh Oram