Henry & Harriet and Other Plays

Carlo Gebler

About the book…

On Tuesday 2nd April 1912, the Titanic left Belfast for Southampton and her maiden voyage to New York. On the same day, Henry Surphlis, a shipyard carpenter and one of the thousands who helped build her, buys two second-class tickets, one-way, Southampton to New York - one for himself, and one for his fiancee, Harriet Sweetlove. 

It was a painful business in 1912, leaving kith and kin. Most immigrants would never see home again. Atypically, Henry couldn't be happier. He has enemies, notably the violent ex-soldier, Leonard Louden, for whom heês been collecting funds for the Ulster Unionist Council, Sir Edward Carson's anti-Home Rule organisation. 

The sooner he puts water between himself and Leonard the better. Henry & Harriet unfolds In real time in the streets and shops of Belfast and follows Henry as he frantically buys what he needs for his new life in the New World. 

By turns a thriller, an Investigation of the psychology of theft and a love story, and combining low farce and high tragedy with the politics of the period when those for and against the Union were Increasingly In conflict, Henry & Harriet tells the story of an ordinary man whose life, in the space of sixty minutes, changes forever. 

In addition to Henry & Harriet this volume also includes two one-act plays: Elaine's Non-Show, the story to a recalcitrant strippergram and Silhouette which describes the unhappy encounter somewhere In Darfur between a young woman refugee and an aid worker, and was performed at the Tricycle Theatre In London as part of How Long is Never?, an evening of theatre about the crisis in the western Sudan.

Photo of the author, Carlo Gebler

About the author…

Carlo Gébler was born Dublin in 1954, the eldest son of writer parents, Ernest Gébler and Edna O'Brien. He was educated at Bedales School, the University of York, where he studied English, and the National Film & Television School. He has a PhD from Queen's University, Belfast.

Carlo Gébler started his career in television and made a number of documentary films for Channel 4 and others including Over Here, Plain Tales from Northern Ireland, Put to the Test, Student Life, and The Suspecting Glance.

His most recent work for television was The Siege (2013), about the 1689 siege of Derry, aired on BBC Northern Ireland, which he wrote and presented. 

Carlo Gébler is also the author of several novels including; August in July (1987), Malachy and his Family (1991), Life of a Drum (1992), The Cure (1995), How To Murder a Man (1999), A Good Day for a Dog (2008), and The Eleventh Summer (2002) and, most recently, The Dead Eight (2011), which was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. His other works include the short story collection W9 & Other Lives (2011), as well as several works of non-fiction including his memoir, Father & I (2001), and the narrative history, The Siege of Derry (2008).

He has also written several novels for children including Caught on a Train, (2001) which was awarded the Bisto prize, and August ’44, (2003), as well as several plays for both radio and the stage, including; Dance of Death,  December Bride, 10 Rounds, Henry & Harriet,  and, most recently, Charles & Mary. a play for BBC Radio 3, about the lives of the brother and sister who wrote the classic children’s introduction to Shakespeare.

Carlo Gébler’s other literary work includes the librettos for Adolf Gébler, Clarinettist and The Room for the Tower.

He has also written extensively in publications such as the Critical Quarterly, The Dublin Review, Fiction Magazine, The Financial Times, The Guardian, and The Irish Independent, amongst others.

As well as his film-making and literary work, Carlo Gébler has also worked as a teacher and academic. In the early nineties he was the creative writing tutor at the Maze prison and since 1997 he has been the writer-in-residence in HMP Maghaberry. In addition he has taught creative writing at Trinity College, Dublin, where he has been a visiting fellow four times, and at Queen’s University, Belfast. 

Carlo Gebler was elected  a member of the Aosdána in 1990.  He is a past chairman of the Irish Writers’ Centre. He is married with five children and currently resides outside Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.