From the stage to the page: ten novels by great playwrights

With the Dublin Theatre Festival kicking off this week, here are ten playwrights who have also penned novels

The shooting partyThe Shooting Party

Anton Chekhov

(1884) A master playwright, dramaturge and short story writer, Chekhov veered into longer form territory with novellas such as

The Steppe



The Duel

. His only full-length novel is centred around the pretty daughter of a drunken forester on a country estate. The object of desire for multiple men, when an attempt is made on Olga’s life deep in the woods, the perpetrator is not easy to identify.

Bridge of San Luis ReyThe Bridge of San Luis Rey

Thornton Wilder

(1928) Wilder won three Pulitzers, the first of which was for his second novel

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

. Relating the story of three interrelated characters that die when a bridge collapses in Peru, the book looks at events leading up to the tragedy and poses questions about destiny and circumstance. The American author went on to win two more Pulitzers for his plays

Our Town


The Skin of Our Teeth.

The Roman spring of Mrs StoneThe Roman Spring of Mrs Stone

Tennessee Williams

(1950) Published the same year as

The Glass Menagerie

and a year before

A Streetcar Named Desire

, Williams’s first novel was inspired by a summer he spent in Rome in the company of an Italian teenage boy. The book has been adapted for film twice, in 1961 and 2003 respectively.

Malone diesMalone Dies

Samuel Beckett

(1951) The second novel in a trilogy, Malone Dies marks the start of Beckett’s most significant period of writing and his move away from traditional narrative. Plot, setting and character development give way to avant garde preoccupations. Unsure whether he is in a hospital or asylum, Malone details the minutiae of his humdrum existence.

Lord Malquist and Mr Moon Tom Stoppard (1966) Better known for his plays Arcadia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and The Real Thing, the Czech-born playwright is also author of a novel, Lord Malquist and Mr Moon. Set in 1960s London, the plot revolves around the foppish Malquist and his incompetent sidekick Moon. The varied cast includes lions, cowboys and an Irishman on a donkey.

A Hero Ain't Nothing but a Sandwich, Alice Childress (1973) Childress was an American playwright, actor and author who wrote in different genres including young adult fiction. Her plays include her debut Florence (1949), Trouble in Mind (1955) and Sea Island Song (1977). A Hero Aint Nothing but a Sandwich is an award-winning young adult novel that tells the story of a teenager in the seventies who becomes addicted to heroin.

The Dwarfs, Harold Pinter (1992) Plays such as The Birthday Party, The Homecoming and Betrayal earned the London-born playwright the Nobel Prize in 2005. As a screenwriter, Pinter adapted numerous novels, from Kafka's The Trial, to Elizabeth Bowen's The Heat of the Day, to Ian McEwan's The Comfort of Strangers. He wrote his only novel, The Dwarfs, in the fifties but it remained unpublished until Pinter revised it forty years later. Set in post-war Britain, it concerns the lives of four young Londoners.

Elements of Style: A Novel, Wendy Wasserstein (2006) Wasserstein's debut novel was published posthumously in 2006. A cutting comedy about New York high society, the book's post-911 world is populated with social climbers, socialites and supermarket heiresses. The comedy turns to tragedy when the darkness behind certain character motivations come to light, offering layers to the novel that befit the Pulitzer and Tony award winning playwright.

Arimathea Frank McGuinness (2013) The well-known playwright published his first novel last year under O'Brien's adult imprint Brandon. Multiple narrators tell of the arrival of an Italian painter to an insular Donegal town in 1950. Commissioned to paint the Stations of the Cross, Gianni's real artistry lies in unearthing the buried narratives at the heart of village life.

The Temporary Gentleman, Sebastian Barry (2014) A playwright and author, Barry is an acclaimed writer of both forms, twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His latest novel revisits the McNulty family, whose characters are drawn in part from Barry's own personal history. The protagonist Jack McNulty, based on the author's maternal grandfather, lives a solitary life in post-war Africa as he reflects on the highs and lows of his marriage to the once formidable Mai.