James Stephens (9 February 1882 - 26 December 1950) was an Irish novelist and poet.
James' mother worked in the home of the Collins family of Dublin and was adopted by them. He attended school with his adopted brothers Thomas and Richard (Tom and Dick) before graduating as a solicitor's clerk. They competed and won several athletic competitions despite James' slight stature (he stood 4'10" in his socks). He was known affectionately as 'Tiny Tim'. He was much enthralled by tales of military valour of his adoptive family and would have been a soldier except for his height. By the early 1900s James was increasingly inclined to socialism and the Irish language and by 1912 was a dedicated Irish Republican. He spoke and wrote Irish. This brought a schism with his adopted family. James Stephens produced many retellings of Irish myths and fairy tales. His retellings are marked by a rare combination of humor and lyricism (Deirdre, and Irish Fairy Tales are often especially praised). He also wrote several original novels (Crock of Gold, Etched in Moonlight, Demi-Gods) based loosely on Irish fairy tales. "Crock of Gold," in particular, achieved enduring popularity and was reprinted frequently throughout the author's lifetime.
Stephens began his career as a poet with the tutelage of "Æ" (George William Russell). His first book of poems, "Insurrections," was published in1909. His last book, "Kings and the Moon" (1938), was also a volume of verse.
During the 1930s, Stephens had some acquaintance with James Joyce, who found that they shared a birth year (and, Joyce mistakenly believed, a birthday). Joyce, who was concerned with his ability to finish what later became Finnegans Wake, proposed that Stephens assist him, with the authorship credited to JJ & S (James Joyce & Stephens, also a pun for the popular Irish whiskey made by John Jameson & Sons). The plan, however, was never implemented, as Joyce was able to complete the work on his own.
During the last decade of his life, Stephens found a new audience through a series of broadcasts on the BBC.