John Kelly was educated at Trinity College, Dublin (where he was a Foundation Scholar and of which he is now an Honorary Fellow), and at Cambridge University, where as a Gardiner Memorial Scholar he wrote a Ph.D. on the Irish Literary Revival under the supervision of T. R. Henn. He taught English and American Literature at the University of Kent at Canterbury from 1968-76, when he became a Fellow of St. John’s College, Oxford.
He has written extensively on 19th and 20th century literature and is General Editor of The Collected Letters of W. B. Yeats, which is being published in 12 volumes. He has also edited and introduced a 12-volume series of Irish fiction, poetry and essays of the nineteenth century, under the title ‘Hibernia: State and Nation’, and his W. B. Yeats Chronology appeared in 2003.
Professor Kelly was Assistant Director of the Yeats Summer School from 1968-71 and Director from 1971-76. He was also a founding member and first Treasurer of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literature, and has held a Leverhulme Fellowship and a British Academy Readership. He acted as General Supervisor of the Oxford M.Phil and M.St programs in Modern British Studies for nearly thirty years. He was Senior English Fellow at St. John’s College from 1979 to 2009 and is now an Emeritus Research Fellow there.
In Fall 2016, Professor Kelly will teach an upper-level undergraduate class "Yeats and Heaney" and deliver a lecture titled "Yeats's 'Pirate Oath': Bucaneering and Mutineering on the Good Ship 'Abbey Theatre'" on Friday, September 16, 4:00 p.m., 424 Flanner Hall, as part of the Institute's Speakers and Public Talks series.