James Reaney is one of Canada's finest poets and dramatists. He is the three time winner of the Governor General's Award and the author of numerous plays and poetry collections including: The Donnellys (Beach Holme, 1983), Wacousta, The Dismissal, Bees, Selected Longer Poems (Beach Holme, 1976), Selected Shorter Poems (Beach Holme, 1975), Colours in the Dark and many others. He lives in London, Ontario, an area frequently featured in his writing.
Based on the true story of an Irish family with seven sons and one daughter immigrating to Biddulph Township near London, Ontario, in 1844, The Donnellys tells the tale of mystery and truths stranger than fiction. It is the story of a secret society and a massacre that shocked the Canadian public, a story overlooked by the artistic community until Reaney’s play elevated the events to the level of legend. First published in 1975, this script takes its place among other true Canadian classics on university and college course listings and in the hearts of drama lovers everywhere. The Donnellys is a trilogy comprised of Sticks & Stones, St. Nicholas Hotel and Handcuffs, three tense and mythic tragedies that garnered critical praise at the 1973 Tarragon Theatre opening and continue to acquire accolades from professors, actors and artistic directors across the country. As with the drama of Yeats, Eliot, O’Neill, Brecht and Beckett, this rendering of a generation of Irish settlers and their brutal murder at the hands of more than thirty vigilante killers is controversial and exciting to this day. Foreword, Afterword and Chronology by James Noonan.