Pat O'Shea (author)

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Pat O'Shea (22 January 1931 - 3 May 2007), was an award-winning and best-selling children's fiction writer. She was born in Galway and was the youngest of 5 children. Her first novel was the best-selling The Hounds of the Morrigan, which took 13 years to complete. It was finally published in 1985 by Oxford University Press, translated into five languages, and is still considered among the best classic children's books.[1]

When she was sixteen she went to England. She worked in a bookshop. She began to write theatre plays in Manchester and got a scholarship from the British Art Council.

In the late 1960s her early theatre writing career proved unsuccessful, though it was supported by David Scase, director of the Library Theatre, Manchester and his successor Tony Colegate. She also tried writing for television, but that also failed to work out, so in 1969 she began to write short stories and poetry, as well as an unpublished comic novel.[2]

By the early 1970s she began writing The Hounds of the Morrigan to please herself and close associates by producing something she could deem worthy of her favorite children's novels, but with little expectation of getting it published.[2]

In poor health and well into her fifties at the time of that novel's first sudden success, she completed only a few chapters of the unpublished sequel in the subsequent decades, although those also remain highly regarded in their own right.[2]

In 1988, she published a second children's book, Finn Mac Cool and the Small Men of Deeds, through the publisher Holiday. That book consisted of her retelling of folklore tales, and was illustrated by Stephen Lavis. In 1988 Horn Book Magazine included it in their annual list of notable children's books, giving it a Horn Book Fanfare Best books of the year award.[3]

She died in Manchester in 2007, at age 76.


  1. ^ Sutherland, Zena; Betsy Hearne; Roger Sutton (1991). The Best in Children's Books, 1985-1990. University of Chicago Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-226-78064-3. 
  2. ^ a b c Daniel Ficking, "Obituary - Pat O'Shea, Author of the best-selling The Hounds of the Morrigan," The Guardian, Saturday, 23 June 2007
  3. ^ The Horn Book, Horn Book Fanfare best books of the year, 1988