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Brian Friel is widely recognized as one of the greatest contemporary dramatists writing in the English language. This is the first book-length study to draw on the Brian Friel Papers in the National Library of Ireland: the numerous drafts and revisions of the plays, the author's notes, correspondence, etc. These help to provide a deeper awareness of the radical, experimental nature of Friel's dramaturgy and a more nuanced understanding of the plays' politics in relation to both Northern Ireland and the Republic. The book covers the entire span of Friel's career and its twenty-four original plays, from the late 1950s to the present. It addresses such central topics as: Friel and the role of the director; negotiations between the past and the present; the operation of fantasy; the politics of space; and the interplay of memory and history. The book deepens and extends our understanding of Friel's achievement and will be an invaluable guide to students of theatre and drama, cultural and Irish studies.