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Autumn Fire


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A: T. C. Murray Pf: 1924, Dublin Pb: 1925 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Living room of Keegans' farmhouse and Mrs Desmond's cottage, rural Ireland, 1920s C: 5m, 3fNance Desmond, a pretty girl of 22, has come home to Tobarnabrosna from working in the town to stay with her elderly mother and to set up as a dressmaker. Ellen Keegan, a 27-year-old woman old before her time, upbraids Nance for her flighty manner, while Nance tells Ellen that she has a ‘heart and mind half perished’. Owen, Ellen's widower father, a vigorous 50-year-old, flirts with Nance, and her brother Michael is also impressed with Nance's good looks. Six weeks later, Michael has fallen in love with Nance. However, Owen announces that he intends to marry her. Ellen believes Nance has schemed to win Owen's farm and predicts catastrophe for the family. Nine months later, Owen and Nance seem happily married, but Owen has become very ill and may die. Owen tells his elder brother Morgan that he wants to leave the farm to Nance. Morgan warns him not to, and is concerned that Nance and Michael have gone off to market together. By the time they finally return, Owen is consumed with jealousy and goes off to bed. Nance insists that Michael must go away, and he begs for a farewell kiss, which Owen observes. In fury, he drives Michael from the house, curses Nance for her treachery and Ellen for planting the seeds of jealousy in his mind, and finally sits alone: ‘They've broken me…son – wife – daughter.’

A: T. C. Murray Pf: 1924, Dublin Pb: 1925 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Living room of Keegans' farmhouse and Mrs Desmond's cottage, rural Ireland, 1920s C: 5m, 3f

This unadorned tale of an older man having his head turned by a younger woman and being made to suffer for his vanity is in the tradition of Abbey Theatre realism, but also contains within it tragic elements. The character of Nance is the most complex: sincerely devoted to Owen, she cannot resist the temptations of youth: ‘I was drowned in a dream. I struggled like a bird in a net.’

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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T. C. Murray (1873—1959) playwright


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