Frank Callanan is a graduate of University College Dublin from which he holds a PhD. He also attended the King’s Inns in Dublin and the College of Europe in Bruges. He is a barrister practising in Dublin, and a historian and writer. His first book, The Parnell Split, 1890–1, a narrative of the last year of Parnell’s life, with a foreword by Conor Cruise O’Brien, was published by Cork University Press (CUP) in 1992, followed four years later by T. M. Healy (CUP 1996), a biography of Timothy Michael Healy, Parnell’s principal adversary in the Split.
He edited Parnell: A Memoir by Edward Byrne (published Lilliput Press 1991) and The Literary and Historical Society 1955-2005, the sequel to the first history to 1955 of the debating society of University College Dublin to which Joyce belonged. He wrote the entries on Parnell, John Dillon, T. M. Healy and others for the Dictionary of Irish Biography (Royal Irish Academy & Cambridge University Press, 2009). He subsequently contributed the entry on Conor Cruise O’Brien, about whom he also produced, with the novelist Carlo Gebler, a television documentary.
Callanan’s article ‘James Joyce and the United Irishman, Paris 1902-3’ (Dublin James Joyce Journal No. 3: 2010) identified Arthur Griffith’s newspaper United Irishman as the source of an extensive list of Irish books written out by Joyce in his Paris-Pola commonplace book. His essay ‘The Parnellism of James Joyce: “Ivy Day in the Committee Room”’ appeared in the Joyce Studies Annual 2015 (Fordham University Press) and his article ‘The Origins of Joyce’s Parnellite Nationalism’ in The Dublin James Joyce Journal (No. 10: 2017).
He has lectured on Joyce in Dublin, London, Trieste and Paris and has contributed articles and book reviews to Irish newspapers and journals.
In January 2021 Ben Tate at Princeton University Press acquired world rights to James Joyce: A Political Life by Frank Callanan, for publication in 2023. The book is a significant augmentation of Richard Ellmann’s classic Joyce biography that shifts how Joyce is understood, by reinstating Joyce’s political edge. Callanan’s work is a major biographical re-interpretation of Joyce from the perspective of his politics, that retrieves the consistently neglected brilliance, acuity, and coherence of Joyce’s treatment of politics and modelling of history. His conceptualisation of the political has outlasted his own era and speaks to the ideological disenchantments of our time.