Blue plaque for Ulster writer whose book was burned by Nazis

Charles Duff in a picture thought to be from the 1940s
Charles Duff in a picture thought to be from the 1940s

A “largely forgotten” Great War soldier-turned-writer whose work was burned by the Nazis is to be honoured over half a century on from his death.

The life and work of Fermanagh man Charles Duff is to be commemorated by the Ulster History Circle this week with the unveiling of a blue plaque marking the place of his birth.

Born in what is now Forthill Street, Enniskillen, in 1894, he attended Portora Royal School, and was described by the society as a “natural scholar”.

He went on to study Spanish, French, Portuguese and German, and in 1916 joined the British Army.

The society said that he ended up serving on both the Western Front and in Italy, and was left hospitalised after being caught in a gas attack in France.

It says that during the course of his life he worked as a barrister, Foreign Office press officer, journalist, playwright, and writer – even penning some science fiction.

The society said: “Perhaps his best known work, ‘A Handbook on Hanging’, is a plea against capital punishment. The German translation of this has the distinction of having been burnt by the Nazis in 1931.”

He died in 1966, and his ashes were sprinkled in Lough Erne. Today he is “largely forgotten”.

The plaque unveiling, which the society hopes will revive his memory, will be on Thursday at noon in Forthill Street.

The Ulster History Circle is a charity which puts up blue plaques in public places across the nine counties of Ulster, to celebrate people of achievement.

A person is not considered for a blue plaque unless they have been dead for a minimum of 200 years, or would have reached their 100th birthday.