Author, journalist, broadcaster, filmmaker, art critic and part- time professor at Barnard College. Columbia University, New York, Polly Devlin has had a remarkable career, taking her from her rural roots in County Tyrone in Ireland to the sophisticated world of arts and letters in London, New York and Paris. In her first job as Features Editor for Vogue she interviewed many major personalities of the 1960s, including Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Janis Joplin, and worked with photographers David Bailey, Richard Avedon, Norman Parkinson, Irving Penn and Lord Snowdon.
In 1994 she was awarded an OBE for services to Literature. In addition to her acclaimed books, All Of Us There, The Far Side of the Lough and Dora: or The Shifts of the Heart, she is also the author of the Vogue Book of Fashion Photography, a Guide Book to Dublin and a book of essays, Only Sometimes Looking Sideways and a publication for the National Gallery of Ireland on their ceramic collection. All of Us There and The Far Side of the Lough. were published on the same day by different publishers, Weidenfeld & Nicholson and Victor Gollancz. They have gone into several editions and All of Us There is now a Virago Modern Classic. Stories from The Far Side of the Lough are frequently broadcast and dramatised. Her novel, Dora was read on Woman's Hour over a period of thirteen weeks.
She was the first person to interview Bob Dylan in England, to write about Seamus Heaney, and almost certainly the first woman to travel across Abu Dhabi, which she did before that country became oil-rich. She recalls seeing horses being turned off a patch of hardened earth as the tiny aeroplane came in to land; as one recalcitrant horse galloped in front of the aeroplane she realised that their paddock was also the landing strip.
She became a columnist for the New Statesman when she was twenty-three, and had her own page in the Evening Standard a year later. Soon after she went to Manhattan as a Features Editor and writer for Diana Vreeland on American Vogue where she interviewed Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman and Andy Warhol among many others. In 1990 she became a roving critic for The International Herald Tribune.
She has been a Booker Prize Judge and in Ireland a judge on the Irish Times Aer Lingus Literary award, has broadcast many talks and has written a radio play for the BBC.
The houses in which she has lived have been photographed as examples of interiors in Elle Decor in the USA in House and Garden, Homes and Garden, Country Living, Vogue, Image Brides, The New York Times Magazine and Tatler, German and French magazines and books including The Irish at Home. (pub 2012) (This site reproduces a few articles on some of the houses she has lived in) In the 1980's she attended the National Film School in England. She wrote and directed made a documentary The Daisy Chain (One reviewer wrote“ A project conceived as a ‘traditional’ documentary explodes into a whirl of ethical contradictions when one subject apparently withdraws her co-operation, In front of the cameras, an emotional battle for power that runs the gamut from love to betrayal and back again unfolds and the documentary enters a realm where accepted notions of objective observation collapse. Sometimes the camera seems to be the cause of the friction, at others it seems to be another weapon. Amid the accusations of manipulations and betrayal, the viewer can never be certain of the truth, never sure when the protagonists are performing for the camera and when they are genuinely its victims.”)
In the 1980's she hosted a series of talks and interviews on television for BBC Northern Ireland. She is on the Northern Ireland team in the Round Britain Quiz on Radio 4.
In 1996 she went back to University in London to
study French literature. She now lives in London and is professor at Barnard
College, Columbia University, New York. She is married to industrialist Adrian
Garnett, and they have three grown-up daughters, Rose Garnett, film producer
and script editor, Daisy Garnett writer and co- editor of the website email@example.com, and Bay Garnett,
stylist, contributing fashion editor to Vogue and consultant to Louis Vuitton.
All of us There a social history. Virago Modern Classics
The Far side of the Lough Short stories. Re-published O’Brien Press.
Vogue Book of Fashion Photography. Thames and Hudson.
Dora or the Shifts of the Heart; a novel Chatto and Windus. Serialised on Radio 4.
Dublin; a Guide Book.
Only Sometimes Looking Sideways; A Book of Essays. O’Brien Press
Film: The Daisy Chain. Documentary: director and writer.
Baby Girl, a radio play.
A Guide to Ceramics for
the National Gallery Ireland.
Booker Prize Judge 1984.
Irish Times Literary Award Judge 1994.
Pushkin Prize Judge 1998.
Awarded the OBE for services to literature in 1994.