The Man Who Was Dunsany
Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Lord Dunsany, was a man of many talents. As a chess player, he won the Irish Championship and played two World Chess Champions, one of them to a draw. A lifelong sportsman, he did everything from fox-hunting and snipe shooting to big-game hunting on safaris in Africa and India. A first-rate cricketer, he organized the local County Meath team for many years and had his official portait done wearing a cricket shirt, not the baronial robes of his ancestors. A failed politician, he twice ran for a seat in the House of Commons as a Conservative candidate, making a respectable showing at a time when the rival Liberals dominated Parliament. Designated by his father to be a career military man, he was not allowed to attend Oxford and study poetry as he wanted but instead sent to Sandhurst, the British equivalent of West Point. He served at Gibraltar and in the Boer War before opting out, and returned to fight in World War I, the Easter Uprising, and in the Home Guard during the Battle of Britain. A society figure, one of the supposedly idle rich, he was a member of the Irish peerage with a 12th century castle. He 'did' the London Season each year, married the Earl of Jersey's daughter, and divided his time between his London townhouse, Kent country home, and Irish estate. Had he lived a generation earlier, he would probably have been an explorer, like his mother's cousin Sir Richard Burton, discoverer of Lake Tanganyiki and first European to visit Mecca. And he wrote.