Hone, Joseph Maunsell (1882–1959), critic, biographer, and publisher, was born 8 February 1882 at Queen's Park, Monkstown, Co. Dublin, the eldest son of William Hone (1842–1919), a well-known cricketer who played for Ireland and the MCC, and his wife, Sarah, the daughter of James Cooper, JP, of Cooper Hill, Clarina, Co. Limerick. The family, who later lived at Killiney, Co. Dublin, were related to Evie Hone (qv) and Nathaniel Hone (qv). Educated at Cheam School, Wellington College, and Jesus College, Cambridge, Hone graduated BA in 1903. He was a keen cricketer at Wellington and later played for Woodbrook.
A significant figure in the Irish literary revival, with George Roberts (qv) and Stephen Gwynn (qv), in 1905 Hone co-founded the influential publishing company Maunsell & Co. Ltd (to which he gave his name); he invested £2,000 in the company and served as its chairman (c.1905–13). Though its finances were often precarious, Maunsell produced over 500 titles and became Ireland's leading publishing house, publishing works from almost all the literary revival's leading figures; it was involved in a prolonged dispute with James Joyce (qv) over the publication of Dubliners. Hone was also founding editor of the acclaimed periodical the Shanachie (1906–7), and contributed to it under the pseudonym Oliver Gay. After the Shanachie ceased publication, he concentrated his efforts on reviewing and writing for the Times Literary Supplement, the Irish Times, the London Mercury, the Irish Statesman, the Bell, and Envoy. In 1909 he travelled to Iran with Page L. Dickinson and wrote an account of his visit, Persia in revolution (1910). Hone was an excellent linguist, and translated several works, most notably Daniel Halévy's Life of Friedrich Nietzsche (1911), Émile Montegat's John Mitchel (1915), and M. M. Rossi's Pilgrimage in the west (1933). A prolific and accomplished biographer, he wrote W. B. Yeats: the poet in contemporary Ireland (1916), Bishop Berkeley (1931), Thomas Davis (1934), Swift; or, the egoist (1934), The life of George Moore (1936), The life of Henry Tonks (1939), The Moores of Moore Hall (1939), and W. B. Yeats 1865–1939 (1942), an official life. He also had a strong interest in philosophy and worked with Arland Ussher (qv) on an anthology of philosophers, but it was never completed.
Hone's political writings, A history of the Irish rebellion of 1916 (1916, written with Warre Bradley Wells under the pseudonym Nicholas Marlowe), The Irish Convention and Sinn Féin (1918), and Ireland since 1922 (1932), reflect his changing attitudes towards Irish nationalism, culminating in a distaste for the Free State and its popular democracy. He acted as unofficial secretary to a group of senators including W. B. Yeats (qv), Andrew Jameson (qv), and remnants of the old ascendancy who were dissatisfied with the direction being taken by the new state. While on holiday in Italy in 1925 he and Yeats discussed the founding of a new anti-democratic ‘National Unionist Party’ which advocated a ‘dual monarchy’ for Britain and Ireland and closer imperial connections. He was a perceptive critic of Yeats's work, and the two men were good friends; Yeats and his family often stayed at Hone's house in Killiney.
Hone was elected president of the Irish Academy of Letters (1957). In June 1911 he married Vera Brewster (d. 1971) of New York; a noted beauty, she was a favourite subject of William Orpen (qv) and was the niece of the famous Shakespearean actress Julia Marlowe. They had two sons and one daughter. Most of Hone's life was spent in Killiney, which he left in 1940, and from then onwards he travelled extensively. He died 26 March 1959. There is a drawing of him by Augustus John in Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, and a portrait by the same artist in the Tate Gallery, London.