Finley Peter Dunne : biography
Finley Peter Dunne (July 10, 1867 — April 24, 1936) was an American humorist and writer from Chicago. He published Mr. Dooley in Peace and War, a collection of his nationally syndicated Mr. Dooley sketches, in 1898."Literary Notes." The Independent. New York: March 16, 1899; Vol. 51, Iss. 2624. 771. The fictional Mr. Dooley expounded upon political and social issues of the day from his South Side Chicago Irish pub and he spoke with the thick verbiage and accent of an Irish immigrant from County Roscommon.Dunne, Finley Peter. Mr. Dooley in Peace and in War.Boston: Small, Maynard & Company. 1898. vii-xiii Dunne’s sly humor and political acumen won the support of President Theodore Roosevelt, a frequent target of Mr. Dooley’s barbs.Gibson, William M. Theodore Roosevelt Among the Humorists: W.D. Howells, Mark Twain, and Mr. Dooley. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. 1980. Indeed Dunne’s sketches became so popular and such a litmus test of public opinion that they were read each week at White House cabinet meetings.Fanning, Charles. Finley Peter Dunne & Mr. Dooley: The Chicago Years. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky. 1978. 199.
The first Dooley articles appeared when he was chief editorial writer for the Chicago Post and for a number of years he wrote the pieces without a byline or initials. They were paid for at the rate of $10 each above his newspaper pay. A contemporary wrote of his Mr. Dooley sketches that "there was no reaching for brilliancy, no attempt at polish. The purpose was simply to amuse. But it was this very ease and informality of the articles that caught the popular fancy. The spontaneity was so genuine; the timeliness was so obvious."Harkins, E.F. "Little Pilgrimages Among the Men Who Have Written Famous Books. No. 14.; Finley Peter Dunne." The Literary World: a Monthly Review of Current Literature. Boston: Aug. 1904. Vol. 35, Iss. 8. 215-6. In 1898, he wrote a Dooley piece that celebrated the victory of Commodore George Dewey over the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay—and this piece attracted national attention. Within a short time, weekly Dooley essays were syndicated across the country."Mr. Dooley’s Creator, Finley Peter Dunne." Current Literature. New York: Nov. 1899. Vol. XXVI, No. 5. 402.
In 1899, under the title Mr Dooley in Peace and War, a collection of the pieces was brought out in book form, received rave reviews from the critics, and was on the best seller list for a year. Dunne, then 32, became a national literary figure.
Selections from Dooley were read at meetings of the presidential cabinet. Theodore Roosevelt was a fan, despite the fact that he was one of Dunne’s favorite targets. When Roosevelt published his book, The Rough Riders, Dunne wrote a tongue-in-cheek review mocking the war hero with the punchline "if I was him I’d call th’ book ‘Alone in Cubia’" and the nation roared.Dunne, Finley Peter. "Mr. Dooley: X – He Reviews a Book." Harper’s Weekly. 25 November 1899. Roosevelt wrote to Dunne: "I regret to state that my family and intimate friends are delighted with your review of my book. Now I think you owe me one; and I shall expect that when you next come east you pay me a visit. I have long wanted the chance of making your acquaintance."
The two finally met at the Republican Convention in 1900, where Roosevelt gave him a news scoop—he would accept the nomination as vice presidential candidate. In later years, Dunne was a frequent guest for dinner and weekends at the White House.
Dunne wrote more than 700 Dooley pieces. About 1/3 of them were printed in eight books, with their era of influence ending with the start of World War I. He left Chicago after Dooley became popular and lived in New York where he wrote books and articles and edited The American Magazine, Metropolitan Magazine and Collier’s Weekly, and was a beloved figure in club and literary circles. He died in New York on April 24, 1936.