As part of the Le Fanu at 200 celebrations, Trinity College will host the Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu Bicentenary Conference on 15th- 16th October 2014. To coincide with the event, the Library is planning a small Le Fanu exhibition in the foyer of the Berkeley Library. Delegates will be able to view a selection of Le Fanu’s works including Uncle Silas: a tale of Bartram-Haugh – first published 150 years ago this year.
The display will also include In a glass darkly (1929) illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. The work contains two notable eerie stories ‘Carmilla’ and ‘Green tea’. The passing of Le Fanu’s wife Susanna in 1858 had a profound effect on him and it is suggested that it led to a reappraisal of his religious faith. ‘Green tea’ illustrates the influence of the theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) and the otherworldly teachings of the Swedenborgian church on his writings.
Le Fanu entered Trinity College in 1832 where he was joined by his brother, William, one year later. The brothers were deemed ‘country-list men’ and as such, could spend much of their time being tutored by their father in their home place Abington, Co. Limerick. His time in Dublin was spent mixing with cousins and fellow members of College Historical Society. He later studied law at the King’s Inns and was called to the bar in 1839. Le Fanu’s first work ‘The ghost and the bone-setter’ appeared in Dublin University Magazine in 1838. He was to remain a regular contributor to the magazine up until 1869 and strengthened his connections further by becoming proprietor and editor in 1861. The 1860s was to prove a prolific period for Le Fanu, commencing with the publication of The house by the churchyard in 1863 in book form.