The author of this novel, Joseph Keating (1871-1934), was a native of Mountain Ash in the Cynon Valley. He was the son of Irish migrants. He began his working life in the coalmines but subsequently became a writer, novelist and dramatist. On its publication in 1916 his autobiography was hailed as ‘an absorbingly arresting book’ that should be read by every south Walian.
Joseph Keating was an Irish nationalist, like his brother Mathew who became Irish nationalist MP for South Kilkenny. Joseph Keating was a supporter of the First World War. He published a patriotic novel, Tipperary Tommy: a novel of the war (1915). The theme of the novel reproduced here, The flower of the dark (1917), turns around life in a mining area and is clearly based on Keating’s first-hand experience of the Cynon Valley during the war years.