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Born in a Longford workhouse where his father was first teacher and then master, Padraic Colum grew into an important figure in the Irish literary renaissance before immigrating to the United States. Invited by the Fay brothers to join the National Theatre Society, he married the teacher and writer Mary Maguire, with whom he undertook several joint projects. The Colums immigrated to the United States in 1914. Colum kept up a varied production of verse, plays, fiction, criticism, and children's literature, together with active lecturing. His most extended teaching appointment was at Columbia University, where he and his wife offered a joint course in comparative literature. Colum felt that his Roman Catholic and peasant roots gave him a closer tie to the Irish folk than did the Protestant, Anglo-Irish background of many writers of the Irish renaissance. His poetry usually deals with common people and rural landscapes in a forthright manner. Colum was resolutely Irish, and his work for the most part avoids didacticism or sentimental nationalism in favor of straightforward presentation.