30 August-Michael and John Banim

Michael and John Banim were writers who were natives of Kilkenny City, Ireland. During their lifetimes the brothers collaborated in many published works including ‘Tales of The O Hara Family’. For Michael writing was a part time occupation but John became a fulltime author.

Michael Banim was born on August 5th 1796 and his brother John was born April 3rd 1798. They were both educated at the English Academy in Kilkenny and later at Kilkenny College. Michael then began training in law but left at the age of sixteen to work in his father’s business. John showed a talent for art and went to Dublin to study the subject at the Royal Dublin Society Metropolitan College of Art.

Having completed his studies John returned to Kilkenny where he became a teacher of drawing and art. He fell in love with a seventeen year old girl called Anne who was one of his pupils. However the girl’s parents objected and removed the girl from Kilkenny. Her death a few months later had a strong mental and physical effect on Banim. He stopped teaching art and began writing for the Leinster Gazette of which he eventually became editor.

In 1820 John Banim moved to Dublin where he worked as a writer contributing to several Dublin newspapers. In 1821 he published a play called Damon and Pythias. The play became a success and was produced the Theatre Royal in Dublin and the Covent Garden in London. He returned to Kilkenny where he married Ellen Ruth and made plans with his brother Michael to write books which would be illustrative of Irish life.

John Banim then moved to London where he wrote for magazines and the stage. The Banim brothers began writing the material on which they had agreed and sent each other their completed works for correction and criticism. They published the first series of ‘Tales, by the O’Hara Family’ in April 1825. The publication was a success. John Banim later published other works but his health was deteriorating and in 1829 he moved to France on the advice of his doctors.

He continued to write but his health did not improve and he got into financial difficulties. A campaign, which was led by The Times newspaper, was conducted to help him financially. The campaign raised enough money in England and Ireland to ensure his financial security. He returned to Ireland and was granted a pension. He lived for the remainder of his life in Windgap near Kilkenny city where died at the age of forty-four.

Michael Banim stayed in Kilkenny most of his life where he served as Postmaster. He was also elected as Mayor of Kilkenny and continued writing following the death of his brother. He retired and in 1873 moved to Booterstown in Dublin where he died a year later at the age of 78.

John Banim died in the year 1842 and his brother Michael died in the year 1874 On This Day.

Image from page 9 of “The life of John Banim, the Irish novelist, author of “Damon and Pythias”, &c. and one of the writers of “Tales by the O’Hara family”. With extracts from his correspondence, general and literary” (1857) by Internet Archive Book Images on 1857-01-01 00:00:00

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