Donn Byrne’s life was as paradoxical and romantic as his writing. Although he was a champion of Ireland and its literature, he was an Orangeman born in Brooklyn (in 1889). However, after three months his family returned to Ireland and he was raised in County Antrim. He received his MA from Dublin University, where he carried off prizes in Gaelic and the lightweight boxing championship. Thereafter he studied at the Sorbonne and in Leipzig, punched cows and wrote verse in South America (with the idea of becoming a cowboy poet), and finally emigrated to New York, where he married Dorothea Cadogan, daughter of a sea captain. Their house on Brooklyn Heights, facing New York Harbor, became the focus of the New York branch of the American literary renaissance (“a gang of howling literary brigands” that included Joyce Kilmer and Don Marquis). In 1921 Messer Marco Polo brought him fame and fortune. He met his death in a tragic automobile accident in 1928.
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