Author: Maeve Brennan

Irish-born writer Maeve Brennan (1917–93) spent 30 years as a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. Her family moved to America after her father, heavily involved in the Irish independence movement, became the first Irish Ambassador to the U.S.  She graduated from American University in 1938 with a degree in English and spent much of the 1940s working for Harper’s Bazaar. Moving to The New Yorker in 1949, Brennan most notably wrote social commentary in the column “The Long-Winded Lady,” published anonymously for its first 15 years, and many short stories, often set in Dublin. Two collections of her works were published in her lifetime: In and Out of Never-Never Land (1969) and Christmas Eve (1974).

The Joker

Maeve Brennan
Isobel Bailey, the protagonist of this 1952 short story by Irish-born and longtime New Yorker columnist Maeve Brennan (1917–93), is a believer in law, order, and “organized charity.” Her annual Christmas supper aims to treat a handful of “waifs”—slight acquaintances she’s designated as “inexplicably separate”—to a pleasant, elegant meal.