cover image Douglas Hyde

Douglas Hyde

Janet Egleson Dunleavy. University of California Press, $50 (475pp) ISBN 978-0-520-06684-7

The long, often controversial life of the first president of modern Ireland is traced in this comprehensive biography by two University of Wisconsin English professors. Born in Roscommon of Protestant gentry and expected to follow his father in a church career, Hyde (1860-1949) was drawn to the local peasantry and their spoken language. De-anglicization, the driving force of his life, was pursued in his support of Irish poetry and drama, and impelled his political debut, encouraged by Eamon DeValera, the prospective prime minister, and a network of Gaelic League members committed to nationalism. ``Known to everyone and no one,'' the authors observe, the man seen here as an affable peer of Yeats and Lady Gregory was equally comfortable in a farmer's cabin.change ok? (hyde, not lady gregory, equally comfortable in cabin?)/change A preeminent figure in Ireland's history, Hyde is drawn full-scale in this extensive, informative study. Photos not seen by PW. (May)