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Roddy Doyle
Doyle in c.  2006
Doyle in c.  2006
Born (1958-05-08) 8 May 1958 (age 65)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation Novelist, dramatist, short story writer, screenwriter, teacher
Alma mater University College Dublin
Subject Working-class Dublin
Notable works The Barrytown Trilogy, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, The Woman Who Walked into Doors, A Star Called Henry
Spouse Belinda Moller (m. 1987)
Children 3

Roddy Doyle (born 8 May 1958) is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. He is the author of eleven novels for adults, eight books for children, seven plays and screenplays, and dozens of short stories. Several of his books have been made into films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. Doyle's work is set primarily in Ireland, especially working-class Dublin, and is notable for its heavy use of dialogue written in slang and Irish English dialect. Doyle was awarded the Booker Prize in 1993 for his novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.

Personal life

Doyle was born in Dublin and grew up in Kilbarrack, in a middle-class family. His mother, Ita Bolger Doyle, was a first cousin of the short story writer Maeve Brennan. Doyle graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from University College Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming a full-time writer in 1993. His personal notes and work books reside at the National Library of Ireland.

In addition to teaching, Doyle, along with Seán Love, established a creative writing centre, "Fighting Words", which opened in Dublin in January 2009. It was inspired by a visit to his friend Dave Eggers' 826 Valencia project in San Francisco. He has also engaged in local causes, including signing a petition supporting journalist Suzanne Breen, who faced gaol for refusing to divulge her sources in court, and joining a protest against an attempt by Dublin City Council to construct 9 ft-high barriers which would interfere with one of his favourite views.

In 1987 Doyle married Belinda Moller, granddaughter of former Irish President Erskine Childers. They have three children; Rory, Jack and Kate.

Doyle is an atheist.


Doyle's writing is marked by heavy use of dialogue between characters, with little description or exposition. His work is largely set in Ireland, with a focus on the lives of working-class Dubliners. Themes range from domestic and personal concerns to larger questions of Irish history.

Novels for adults

Doyle's first three novels, The Commitments (1987), The Snapper (1990) and The Van (1991) compose The Barrytown Trilogy, a trilogy centred on the Rabbitte family. All three novels were made into successful films.

The Commitments is about a group of Dublin teenagers, led by Jimmy Rabbitte Jr., who decide to form a soul band in the tradition of Wilson Pickett. The novel was made into a film in 1991. The Snapper, made into a film in 1993, focuses on Jimmy's sister, Sharon, who becomes pregnant. She is determined to have the child but refuses to reveal the father's identity to her family. In The Van, which was shortlisted for the 1991 Booker Prize and made into a film in 1996, Jimmy Sr. is laid off, as is his friend Bimbo; the two buy a used fish and chips van and they go into business for themselves.

In 1993, Doyle published Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, winner of the 1993 Booker Prize, which showed the world as described, understood and misunderstood by a ten-year-old Dubliner living in 1968.

Doyle's next novel dealt with darker themes. The Woman Who Walked into Doors, published in 1996, is the story of a battered wife, Paula Spencer, who was introduced in his 1994 television series Family, and is narrated by her. Despite her husband's increasingly violent behaviour, Paula defends him, using the classic excuse "I walked into a door" to explain her bruises. Ten years later, the protagonist returned in Paula Spencer, published in 2006.

Doyle's most recent trilogy of adult novels is The Last Roundup series, which follows the adventures of protagonist Henry Smart through several decades. A Star Called Henry (published 1999) is the first book in the series, and tells the story of Henry Smart, an IRA volunteer and 1916 Easter Rebellion fighter, from his birth in Dublin to his adulthood when he becomes a father. Oh, Play That Thing! (2004) continues Henry's story in 1924 America, beginning in the Lower East Side of New York City, where he catches the attention of local mobsters by hiring kids to carry his sandwich boards. He also goes to Chicago where he becomes a business partner with Louis Armstrong. The title is taken from a phrase that is shouted in one of Armstrong's songs, "Dippermouth Blues". In the final novel in the trilogy, The Dead Republic (published 2010), Henry collaborates on writing the script for a Hollywood film. He returns to Ireland and is offered work as the caretaker in a school, when circumstances lead to him re-establishing his link with the IRA.

Doyle frequently posts short comic dialogues on his Facebook page which are implied to be between two older men in a pub, often relating to current events in Ireland (such as the 2015 marriage referendum) and further afield. These developed into the novella Two Pints (2012). Other recent works are The Guts (2013), which continues the story of the Rabbitte family from the Barrytown Trilogy, focusing on a 48-year-old Jimmy Rabbite and his diagnosis of bowel cancer and Two More Pints (2014).

Novels for children

Doyle has also written many novels for children, including the "Rover Adventures" series, which includes The Giggler Treatment (2000), Rover Saves Christmas (2001), and The Meanwhile Adventures (2004).

Other children's books include Wilderness (2007), Her Mother's Face (2008), and A Greyhound of a Girl (2011).

Plays, screenplays, short stories and non-fiction

Doyle is also a prolific dramatist, composing four plays and two screenplays. His plays with the Passion Machine Theatre company include Brownbread (1987) and War (1989), directed by Paul Mercier with set and costume design by Anne Gately. ..... This latter play was the subject of litigation about copyright which ended with the Abbey Theatre agreeing to pay Adigun €600,000.

Screenplays include the television screenplay for Family (1994), which was a BBC/RTÉ serial and the forerunner of the 1996 novel The Woman Who Walked into Doors. Doyle also authored When Brendan Met Trudy (2000), which is a romance about a timid schoolteacher (Brendan) and a free-spirited thief (Trudy).

Doyle has written many short stories, several of which have been published in The New Yorker; they have also been compiled in two collections. The Deportees and Other Stories was published in 2007, while the collection Bullfighting was published in 2011. Doyle's story "New Boy" was adapted into a 2008 Academy Award-nominated short film directed by Steph Green.

Rory and Ita (2002) is a work of non-fiction about Doyle's parents, based on interviews with them.

The Commitments was adapted by Doyle for a musical which began in the West End in 2013.

Two Pints (2017) was produced by the Abbey Theatre initially in pubs and later in the theatre itself.

In 2018 the Gate Theatre commissioned Doyle to write a stage adaptation of The Snapper. The show was directed by Róisín McBrinn and was revived in 2019.

Awards and honours

  • Royal Society of Literature Fellow
  • 1991 Booker Prize shortlist for The Van
  • 1991 BAFTA Award (Best Adapted Screenplay) for The Commitments
  • 1993 Booker Prize for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
  • 2009 Irish PEN Award
  • 2011 French Literary Award ("Prix Littéraire des Jeunes Européens") for The Snapper
  • 2013 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards (Novel of the Year) for The Guts
  • 2015 Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) from University of Dundee
  • 2021 Dalkey Literary Awards, Shortlist

In popular culture

.....!") is blamed on his having "been reading those Roddy Doyle books again."

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Roddy Doyle para niños

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