James Stephens was an Irish novelist and poet. He wrote many retellings of Irish myths and fairy tales, plus several books which are fiction, but loosely based on Irish fairy tales. American composers who have set Stephens’s work extensively include Samuel Hans Adler, Samuel Barber, and Walter Mourant.
Stephens began his career as a poet under the tutelage of "Æ" (George William Russell); his first book of poems, Insurrections, was published in 1909. His last book, Kings and the Moon (1938), was also a volume of verse. In the last decade of his life, Stephens found a new audience through a series of broadcasts on the BBC.