William Carleton was an Irish novelist, and one of fourteen children of a tenant farmer. Carleton's early life resembled what he later described in his books. His father had an extraordinary memory and a thorough acquaintance with Irish folklore, which Carleton drew upon in later works such as Traits and Stories of Irish Peasantry. He became regarded as one of the great Irish novelists, and a master chronicler of the lives and character on the Irish people.
The Dark Day is a collection of Carelton's stories, including the title piece, "Lha Dhu" (subtitled The Dark Day) In the tale, a marriage divides a family and leads to tragedy. "Ellen Duncan" deals with crushing poverty and a man condemned by mistake. "The Proctor's Daughter" shows the change that can be wrought by a simply act of kindness, and "The Dead Boxer" has "Strong Handed O'Rorke" tangling with old Nell McCollum, who blames his family for her ills, and schemes against him.