Robert Wilson Lynd (20 April 1879 – 6 October 1949) was an Irish writer, an urbane literary essayist and strong Irish nationalist.

Life and career

He was born in Belfast and educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, studying at Queen's University. His background was Protestant, his father being a Presbyterian Church Moderator.

He began as a journalist on "The Northern Whig" in Belfast. He moved to London in 1901, via Manchester, sharing accommodation with his friend the artist Paul Henry. Firstly he wrote drama criticism, for "Today", edited by Jerome K. Jerome. He also wrote for the "Daily News" (later the News Chronicle), being its literary editor 1912 to 1947.

He settled in Hampstead, in Keats Grove near the John Keats house. The Lynds were well known as literary hosts, in the group including J. B. Priestley. They were on good terms also with Hugh Walpole; Priestley, Walpole and Sylvia Lynd were founding committee members of the Book Society. Irish guests included James Joyce and James Stephens. On one occasion reported by Victor Gollancz, Joyce intoned Anna Livia Plurabelle to his own piano accompaniment.

He used the pseudonym Y.Y. (Ys, or wise) in writing for the New Statesman. According to C. H. Rolph's Kingsley (1973), Lynd's weekly essay, which ran from 1913 to 1945, was 'irreplaceable'. In 1941, editor Kingsley Martin decided to alternate it with pieces by James Bridie on Ireland, but the experiment was not at all a success. Lynd died in 1949 and is buried in Belfast City Cemetery.


He became a fluent Irish speaker, and Gaelic League member. As a Sinn Féin activist, he used the name Robiard Ó Flionn/Roibeard Ua Flionn.

He wrote for The Republic in its early days. He spoke at the funeral in 1916 of Irish Republican and Marxist James Connolly, whose works Labour in Ireland, Labour in Irish History and The Re-Conquest of Ireland he subsequently edited. He was also a loyal friend of Roger Casement.


He married the writer Sylvia Dryhurst, whom he met at Gaelic League meetings in London, in 1909. Their daughters Máire and Sigle became close friends of Isaiah Berlin. Sigle's son, born in 1941, is the artist Tim Wheeler.


Robert Lynd Poems

Robert Lynd Quotes

There are some people who want to throw their arms round you simply because it is Christmas; there are other people who want to strangle you simply because it is Christmas.
Robert Lynd (1879-1949), Anglo-Irish essayist, journalist. "On Christmas," The Book of This and That (1915).

Comments about Robert Lynd

ivan Cosentino 14 Aug 2013 11:44
Quotes By Robert Lynd: “There are finer things in life than playing games, but, if there were no games to play, would more people do finer things? I doubt it. They would probably only do something worse.” “The ordinary man takes very little interest in public affairs until they interfere with his private affairs.” “There is a taint about money earned by honest work. By the time one has earned enough of it one has got into such a habit of work that one does not know how to idle.” “C-3 kindness is too often A-1 cruelty. If the birds could speak, who doubts that they would begin their morning chant with a prayer to us to abandon out well-meant efforts to protect them? ” “There has never been a satisfactory definition of what constitutes a gentleman. I have been called a gentleman myself.”