Brendan Francis Aidan Behan (christened Francis Behan) ( BEE-ən; Irish: Breandán Ó Beacháin; 9 February 1923 – 20 March 1964) was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright, and Irish Republican activist who wrote in both English and Irish. He was named by Irish Central as one of the greatest Irish writers of all time.An Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army, Behan was born in Dublin into a staunchly republican family becoming a member of the IRA's youth organization Fianna Éireann at the age of fourteen. There was also a strong emphasis on Irish history and culture in his home, which meant he was steeped in literature and patriotic ballads from an early age. At age 16, Behan joined the IRA, which led to his serving time in a borstal youth prison in the United Kingdom and imprisonment in Ireland. During this time, he took it upon himself to study and he became a fluent speaker of the Irish language. Subsequently released from prison as part of a general amnesty given by the Fianna Fáil government in 1946, Behan moved between homes in Dublin, Kerry and Connemara, and also resided in Paris for a time. In 1954, Behan's first play The Quare Fellow, was produced in Dublin. It was well received; however, it was the 1956 production at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Stratford, London, that gained Behan a wider reputation. This was helped by a famous drunken interview on BBC television with Malcolm Muggeridge. In 1958, Behan's play in the Irish language An Giall had its debut at Dublin's Damer Theatre. Later, The Hostage, Behan's English-language adaptation of An Giall, met with great success internationally. Behan's autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy, was published the same year and became a worldwide best-seller. By the early 1960s, Behan reached the peak of his fame. He spent increasing amounts of time in New York City, famously declaring, "To America, my new found land: The man that hates you hates the human race." By this point, Behan began spending time with people including Harpo Marx and Arthur Miller and was followed by a young Bob Dylan. However, this newfound fame did nothing to aid his health or his work, with his alcoholism and diabetes medical conditions continuing to deteriorate: Brendan Behan's New York and Confessions of an Irish Rebel received little praise. He briefly attempted to combat this by a dry stretch while staying at Chelsea Hotel in New York, and in 1961 was admitted to Sunnyside Private Hospital, an institution for the treatment of alcoholism in Toronto, but he once again turned back to alcohol and relapsed back into active alcoholism.
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