Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955 and was educated at University College Dublin where he read History and English. After graduating, he lived and taught in Barcelona. He returned to Ireland and worked as a journalist before travelling through South America and Argentina. His first novel, The South (1990), set in Spain and rural Ireland in the 1950s, is the story of an Irish woman who leaves her husband and starts a relationship with a Spanish painter. It was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for First Book. Eamon Redmond, the central character in The Heather Blazing (1992), is a judge in the Irish High Court, haunted by his own past and the history of modern Ireland. The book won the Encore Award for the best second novel of the year. His third novel, The Story of the Night (1996), is set in Argentina during the Falklands War. The Blackwater Lightship (1999), describes the uneasy relationship between a grandmother, her daughter and granddaughter, brought together by a family tragedy. The book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The Master (2004) was a novel about Henry James, which won the IMPAC prize. Brooklyn (2009) tells the story of an emigrant from rural Ireland to the US in the 1950s, and won the Costa Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
Bibliography of Fiction
The South (Serpent's Tail, London, 1990). Paperback in French flaps, £125+.
The Heather Blazing (Picador, London, 1992)- around £100.
The Story of the Night (Picado,. London, 1996) - £15-20.
The Blackwater Lightship (Picador, London, 1999) - £15-20.
The Master (Picador, London, 2004) - £25-30.
Mothers and Sons (Picador, London, 2006) - £15 -20. Also 50 copies signed and numbered bound in quarter goatskin, with raised bands, hand tooled spine in 22 carat gold - leaf, top edge gilt, marbled boards and matching slipcase by Kenny's Fine Bindery, Galway.
Brooklyn (Viking, London, 2009) - £20-25. Also 25 copies bound in full leather numbered I - XXV, plus 5 copies hors commerce; 75 copies bound in full cloth numbered 1 - 75 plus 5 copies hors commerce, both in mustard yellow slipcase, from Tuskar Rock Press, Dublin.
The Street (Dublin; Tuskar Rock; 2010). A separate edition of a short story from The Empty Family. Limited to 50 copies, numbered in roman numerals from I to L, the edition is signed and dated (30 September 2010) by the author. The book is hand set, 80 pages (untrimmed) long, printed on Somerset mould made and bound in full Harmatan blue leather by the Fine Book Bindery. The book is enclosed in a slipcase covered in navy blue cloth.