Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know by Colm Tóibín

The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce

Colm Tóibín

Published by Viking in Hardback / Epub (££14.99) on 25-10-2018

In Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, Colm Tóibín turns his incisive gaze to three of Ireland’s greatest writers, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats and James Joyce, and their earliest influences: their fathers. From Wilde’s doctor father, a brilliant statistician and amateur archaeologist, who was taken to court by an obsessed lover in a strange premonition of what would happen to his son; to Yeats’ father, an impoverished artist and brilliant letter-writer who could never finish a painting; to John Stanislus Joyce, a singer, drinker and story-teller, a man unwilling to provide for his large family, whom his son James memorialised in his work.

Colm Tóibín illuminates not only the complex relationships between three of the greatest writers in the English language and their fathers, but also illustrates the surprising ways they surface in their work. 

  • ‘Colm Tóibín’s examination of three writers’ relationships with their fathers is full of insight and intrigue.’

    Rachel Cooke, The Observer

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know by Colm Tóibín's related campaigns

See more campaigns →

House of Names

A breathtaking story of a family at war with itself told by one of the world’s greatest living storytellers. “I have been acquainted with the smell of death. The sickly, sugary smell that wafts in the wind towards the rooms in this palace. It is easy now for me to feel peaceful and content. I […]

Read more →

Nora Webster

“What surprised her was the hardness of her resolve, how easy it seemed to turn her back on what she had loved, leave this house on the lane to the cliff for others to know, for others to come to in the summer and fill with different noises. As she sat looking out at the […]

Read more →