Roddy Doyle, an Irish author, dramatist and screenwriter, was born in Dublin on 8 May 1958. He grew up in Dalkey, Dublin and attended St Fintan’s Christian Brothers School in Sutton, before graduating from University College, Dublin. Doyle worked for fourteen years as an English and Geography teacher at Greendale Community School in Kilbarrack, North Dublin. Whilst still teaching, his work achieved widespread success when his novel The Commitments was made into a film in 1991, and the third novel in The Barrytown Trilogy, The Van was nominated for the Booker Prize in the same year. This early success was a sign of things to come. In 1993, Roddy Doyle won the Booker Prize for his novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, which became the most commercially successful Booker prize-winner to date, and has been translated into 19 languages. In the same year Doyle decided to become a full-time writer.
The vast majority of Doyle’s work, including The Barrytown Trilogy and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, deals with the lives of ordinary working-class Dubliners. This has brought him praise and judgement in equal measure in Ireland; some have criticised his use of bad language and claim that he is giving a bad impression of the country. This is countered by his own view that his job as a writer is simply to describe things and people as they really are. Doyle has continued to do exactly that with his novels, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors telling the story of a woman abused by her husband. But by far his most ambitious work so far, is The Last Roundup Trilogy, chronicling the 20th century history of Ireland. The first instalment, A Star Called Henry, tells the story of Henry’s bleak, poverty-stricken childhood, and the role he plays in the 1916 Easter Rising, and the ensuing sectarian violence. This is followed by Oh, Play That Thing! which follows Henry on his quest for the American Dream and tells of his life among the mobsters of New York City. The third eagerly-awaited part of this trilogy, The Dead Republic is expected on the shelves sometime in 2010.
Doyle’s other literary works include dramas such as Brownbread, in which a bishop is kidnapped, War about a pub quiz, and a new version of The Playboy of the Western World written with Bisi Adigun, as well as short stories collected in a volume called The Deportees. He has written extensively for the screen, writing a series called The Family for the BBC, the scripts for the films based on his Barrytown Trilogy, and an original screenplay called When Brendan Met Trudy. Doyle has written many popular books for children including The Giggler Treatment, Rover Saves Christmas, The Meanwhile Adventures and Wilderness.
Roddy Doyle, along with Sean Love established the Fighting Words creative writing centre in Dublin in January 2009. Fighting Words was inspired by a visit to the 826 Valencia project in San Francisco, and aims to encourage and develop the writing skills of students of all ages. All tutoring in creative writing is free at the centre.
Roddy Doyle is an intensively private man and described as unassuming and modest by those who know him. Doyle goes to great lengths to protect his private life and prefers a quiet family life. In 1998, Roddy Doyle received an Honorary Doctorate from Dublin City University.