The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

IX. Anglo-Irish Literature

§ 17. The Banims

The brothers Banim, John and Michael, are best known by their joint work Tales of the O’Hara Family—one brother passing on his work to the other for suggestions and criticism. Their several gifts, as shown in their popular Irish tales, are in pleasant contrast.

  • “John’s,” writes Katharine Tynan, “was the stronger and more versatile, Michael’s the more humane and sunshiny. John’s, occasionally in a page of dark tragedy, recalls that grinding melancholy of Carleton, which is almost squalid. It is a far cry from Father Connell to The Nowlans; in fact, the two stories represent almost the extremes of human temperament. Michael’s was the gentler and more idealising nature, though no one should deny tenderness to the author of Soggarth Aroon and Aileen.”
  • No doubt, John Banim’s work was coloured by the melancholy from which he suffered, due, in the first instance, to the death of his betrothed, and, afterwards, to a somewhat morbid temperament. Through the influence of his friend Sheil, he produced a successful tragedy Damon and Pythias at Covent garden, and wrote a series of clever essays Revelations of the Dead, satires on the follies and affectations of the day, which were much read at the time. Michael Banim was the best of brothers. Quite apart from the modest manner in which he held back from claiming his share in the popularity gained by John, through the success of The Tales of the O’Hara Family, he begged him, when news came of his failing health, to return with his wife from his work to Kilkenny and make his home there with him, insisting that “one brother should not want while the other can supply him.” Though the elder, Michael outlived John by thirty years, during which period he produced Father Connell, one of his best novels, Clough Fion and The Town of The Cascades.