Death of playwright and critic Robert Hogan


Prof Robert Hogan, who has died aged 69, was an academic, publisher, and prolific playwright and critic.

Born in Boonville, Missouri, he developed a love of Ireland and came to live here in the 1980s, eventually retiring to Bray, Co Wicklow, with his wife, the novelist, Mary Rose Callaghan. He died on Friday.

In 1996, he produced The Dictionary of Irish Literature, which has been described as a bible of Irish literature and a monument to his scholarship.

Prof Hogan was born in 1930 and was one of the earliest literary critics to deal with the work of Sean O'Casey. He also studied with Elmer Rice. His stage career and love of the theatre started in the small-town theatres of Missouri, where he acted and directed.

His connection with Ireland began in Missouri with his doctorate on O'Casey. He knew O'Casey and went to stay with him for a year. He looked upon him as a father figure and O'Casey helped him obtain a Guggenheim fellowship for drama.

Prof Hogan first came to Ireland as a young man and lived in Greystones for almost a year, writing. He spent most of his time in the National Library going through Joseph Holloway's diaries on Irish theatre. His academic career spanned Columba, Missouri, Ohio, Perdue, California, Rochester and UCD.

He married his first wife when he was very young and they had several children. Because of this he became an academic to make a living.

But he always loved the theatre and wrote many plays. In the 1960s, several of his dramas were produced in Los Angeles and in the 1970s he had several off-Broadway successes. His best-known play was A Better Place, which starred Lynn Redgrave and Dan O'Herlihy at the Gate in 1973 and later won the Showbusiness Award for Outstanding Play of the Year for an off-Broadway production of it.

Prof Hogan's funeral will take place tomorrow. He is survived by his wife, and his children from a previous marriage in the US.