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Shaemas O'Sheel Letters

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: O'Sheel, Shaemas, 1886-1954.
Title: Shaemas O'Sheel Letters
Inclusive Dates: 1938-1941
Quantity: 1 folder (SC)
Abstract: Letters from the Irish-American poet and critic to artist and illustrator Art Young. Mentions O'Sheel's relationship to the Communist Party, including his falling out and subsequent exile from the pages of New Masses.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Shaemas O'Sheel (1886–1954) was an Irish-American poet and critic. Born Shaemas Shields, he changed his surname to the more Gaelic "O'Sheel" soon after high school. He worked for the United States Senate (1913-1916) followed by employment with various newspapers, did publicity and advertising work, and was active in the Irish independence movement. He was "a very ardent Communist and a staunch supporter of the Soviet Union" (letter, O'Sheel to Young, April 17, 1938), though he disagreed vigorously with their foreign policy; as a result many of the usual Communist and radical outlets such as New Masses were closed to him. He published four books of poetry, and his work appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Book Review, Harper's, and other national publications.

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from O'Sheel's obituary in the New York Times, April 4, 1954.]

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Shaemas O'Sheel Letters consist of two letters from Shaemas O'Sheel to artist Art Young regarding possible collaboration on a book. "A kind of book of indignation, as one might say...grand drawings from your pen, putting some of the evils and some of the villains of this age on the spit, turning them over a slow fire, to the accompaniment of "poems" in which I would strive to echo...the Olympian force of your pen." O'Sheel speaks, half-jokingly, of his desire "to begin the rehabilitation of my name, and even introduce it for the first time to the cruel generations of the youthful who know me not."

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Arrangement of the Collection

Letters are in chronological order.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has extensive collections relating to American radical writers and artists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

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Subject Headings


O'Sheel, Shaemas, 1886-1954 -- Archives.
Young, Art, 1866-1943 -- recipient.
Young, Art, 1866-1943.


Communists -- United States.
Poets, American -- 20th century -- Biography.
Radicalism in literature.
Radicals -- United States.

Genres and Forms




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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Shaemas O'Sheel Letters,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2008.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 26 Nov 2008
Revision history:

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SC 270 Young, Art 1938, 1941

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