Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

The Magical World of Lord Dunsany

on March 16, 2022

The King of Elfland’s Daughter is one of Lord Dunsany’s most popular books. Written in 1924, the book is a clear forerunner of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. I recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy fiction.

Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett (try saying that real fast three times) was an Irish aristocrat who inherited the title of 18th Baron Dunsany in 1899. He lived in Dunsany Castle in County Meath, Northern Ireland and married the daughter of the 7th Earl of Jersey, Lady Beatrice Child-Villiers. The couple had one son who went on to inherit the title and the castle.

A close friend of William Butler Yeats and Rudyard Kipling, Dunsany became a prolific writer, producing a large opus of poetry, plays, short stories, and novels based on Irish folklore and mythology. He was part of the late 19th century “Celtic Revival” started by Yeats. Other influential contemporaries included Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) and Kenneth Grahame (Wind in the Willows).

In America, he was dubbed “America’s Favorite Peer” because his plays were in great demand in New York City. At one point, he allegedly had five plays running simultaneously on Broadway.

Dunsany was a soldier who fought in the Boer War, World War I, and the 1916 Irish uprising. During World War II, he served in the Home Guard.

Although J.R.R. Tolkien is regarded as the father of fantasy fiction, Dunsany’s style and imagination had a profound effect on all the prominent fantasy writers of his day, including Tolkien, Lewis, and H.P. Lovecraft. His influence has extended to modern fantasy writers such as British author Neil Gaiman.

Dunsany’s stories have been described by other writers as magical, ethereal, dream-like, and surreal. Writing in long-hand with a feathered quill pen, his intuitive imagination wandered beyond the boundaries of intellect to produce stories in magical and poetic prose which capture the heart and imagination of discerning readers.

As the world evolved technologically around him, one of Lord Dunsany’s favorite themes was the threat of science to the Other World. He ventured into sci fi with The Last Revolution, which explored what would happen if machines turned against their human inventors (foreshadowing The Terminator).

Lord Dunsany died of appendicitis on October 25, 1957.

A Poem to Lord Dunsany

By Irish Poet Francis Ledwidge



For you I knit these lines, and on their ends
Hang little tossing bells to ring you home.
The music is all cracked, and Poesy tends
To richer blooms than mine; but you who roam
Thro’ coloured gardens of the highest muse,
And leave the door ajar sometimes that we
May steal small breathing things of reds and blues
And things of white sucked empty by the bee,
Will listen to this bunch of bells from me.

My cowslips ring you welcome to the land
Your muse brings honour to in many a tongue,
Not only that I long to clasp your hand,
But that you’re missed by poets who have sung
And viewed with doubt the music of their verse
All the long winter, for you love to bring
The true note in and say the wise thing terse,
And show what birds go lame upon a wing,
And where the weeds among the flowers do spring.

(Dunsany Castle, County Meath, Northern Ireland. Photo by Tim Wilson. http://www.dunsany.com)

Dawn Pisturino

March 16, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

10 responses to “The Magical World of Lord Dunsany

  1. No comments yet? Odd. This is interesting stuff. Never heard of the fellow. That poem was good stuff too. Have you ever read Edward Bulwer-Lytton? He’s another one of those titans not many people know about. Anglo-Irish, as I recall. Perhaps it explains his interest in America.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had only heard of him in passing. I was watching a documentary about Lovecraft, and Neil Gaiman was going on and on about Lord Dunsany, so I bought the book. I found it charming. So, I figure most people – even fantasy readers – probably have not heard of him. No, I have not yet read Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. […] The Magical World of Lord Dunsany — Dawn Pisturino’s Blog […]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this body of work by Lord Dunsany that I was not familiar with. Interesting and very good review, complemented by that tributary poem to Lord Dunsany from Francis Ledwidge. Great segue to St. Patrick’s Day my friend! 🍀☘🍀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. mitchteemley says:

    I’ve heard of Dunsany, but never read him. You’ve piqued my interest.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. balladeer says:

    I love Lord Dunsany’s works! My favorites are The Gods of Pegana and Time and the Gods.

    Liked by 1 person

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