Biography - Mary Morrissy

Mary Morrissy was born in Dublin in 1957.  She has published two novels – Mother of Pearl (1995) and The Pretender (2000) and a collection of short stories, A Lazy Eye (1993).  Her third novel, The Rising of Bella Casey, is forthcoming (September 2013).

She won a Hennessy Award for short fiction in 1984 and a prestigious US Lannan Literary Foundation Award in 1995 (sharing the honour that year with Alice Munro and Louis de Bernieres).  Mother of Pearl was shortlisted for the Whitbread Award (now Costa) and The Pretender was nominated for the Dublin Impac Award and shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award.

She trained as a journalist and has 30 years’ experience working as a reporter/feature writer and copy editor on three of Ireland’s national dailies, The Irish Press, The Irish Times and The Irish Examiner.  She currently reviews fiction for The Irish Times.

For the past decade she has taught creative writing both in Ireland and the US.  She has lectured on the M Phil programme at Trinity College and the MA/MFA programme at University College Dublin. She is a senior faculty member on the University of Iowa’s summer writing programme held in Dublin annually.  In addition she has worked extensively in the US on writing programmes at the University of Arkansas, John Carroll University, Cleveland, and George Washington University, Washington DC.



A Lazy Eye:

“One of the best and most exciting Irish books of the year."

John Banville


“A pungent debut. . . Mary Morrissy is a cool but gifted pathologist under whose microscope tiny slivers of human tissue are shown to be teeming with microbal life and mysterious, mutant energy.”

Candice Rodd:  Independent on Sunday


Mother of Pearl:

“Mary Morrissy ranks among the very best. . .how she writes!”

 Fay Weldon


“A dazzling display. . . a formidable first novel.”

 Clare Boylan:  Irish Times


“A slap-bang terrific novel. . . with great lyricism, skill and insight. Morrissy explores the darker sides of the maternal instinct.  She paints an indelible picture of one tragic woman’s  search for home and family.”

 Val Hennessy: Daily Mail


“Dense, lyrical and often startlingly written. . .”

Claire Messud: New York Times


“This novel is outstanding.  For all its sophistication, elegance, black humour and craft, Morrissy’s prose is unusually beautiful. . . don’t be surprised if you find yourself in tears; I did.”

Eileen Battersby: Irish Times


“Mary Morrissy’s first novel evokes the comedy of Beckett’s Murphy.  Her pithy, physical prose is both compelling and lyrical, and wit shines throughout.”

Paul West



The Pretender:

“The Pretender is a most sympathetic and careful reconstruction of an extraordinary story. . . . close, sensitive and tender.”

Penelope Fitzgerald


“A highly intelligent, relentless, even austere performance, The Pretender somehow never loses sight of the insanity, desperate humour and humanity of an individual intent on escaping herself.”

Eileen Battersby: Irish Times