This is a detailed, critical history of Irish drama from the founding of the Irish Literary Theatre to the eighties. Professor Maxwell pays special attention to the fortunes of the Abbey Theatre, home of the best-known Irish playwrights, but also takes account of the Gate Theatre in Dublin and the Group, Arts and Lyric Theatres in Belfast. The main focus of the book is on the dramatists. At appropriate chronological points Professor Maxwell gives extended critical assessment of the work of the major writers: Yeats, Synge, O'Casey, Denis Johnston, Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel. He comments also on other dramatists who have given Irish drama its distinctive voice, from George Fitzmaurice and St John Ervine, to Thomas Kilroy and Graham Reid. While arguing that Irish drama has a deeply indigenous nature, the book also evaluates its dealings with the European drama of Ibsen, the Symbolists and the Expressionists. A useful chronology, select bibliography and production photographs complement the text.