Christopher Fitz-Simon was born into an extraordinary Irish family, with Daniel 'The Liberator' O'Connell on one side and Ulster Protestants on the other, and his childhood coincided with the Second World War - or, as it was known in the southern Irish state, the Emergency. "Eleven Houses" is a crystalline memoir of his family's odd progress through those odd years, an account by turns hilarious and heartbreaking. Christopher's father was an officer in the British army, serving in the middle east when war broke out, and the family home in these years was in fact a series of homes in every part of Ireland.Christopher's mother, a restless, unsettled woman, moved him and his brother constantly: they stayed in the homes of relatives (including Annaghmakerrig in Co. Monaghan) and friends (Maidenhall in Co. Kilkenny); they were paying guests in country houses; and they lived in military accommodation in Co. Down. For long periods they were not enrolled in school, and the commencement of formal education proved a shock after years of the freedom of houses, orchards, lanes and fields.
Drawing on his extraordinarily vivid recall of the places and feelings of those years, Christopher Fitz-Simon tells a story of growing up that is also, in effect, a story of various hidden Irelands during the twilit years of the war. Funny, moving and sharp, it is a childhood memoir like no other.
Christopher Fitz-Simon was born in Belfast and raised - apart from the years covered in this book - mainly in Co. Monaghan. He was artistic director of the Irish Theatre Company, and subsequently literary manager and then artistic director of the National Theatre (Abbey and Peacock). He is the author of a number of books, including The Arts in Ireland, The Boys (a biography of Micheal MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards), and The Abbey Theatre. He lives in Dublin.