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William Butler Yeats
Birth: Jun. 13, 1865
County Dublin, Ireland
Death: Jan. 28, 1939
Cannes, France

Poet, Playwright, Nobel Prize Winner. He is generally considered to be one of the 20th century's key English language poets. A Symbolist poet, he used allusive imagery and symbolic structures throughout his writings. His early poetry relied heavily on Irish myth and folklore and his later work embraced the more contemporary issues. His father was an aspiring artist and his mother came from a wealthy merchant family in Sligo, Ireland. When he was two years old, his family moved to London, England, to further enhance his father's artistic career. Three years later his family returned to Dublin, Ireland, where he attended high school. It was during this time that he began writing poetry and in 1885, his first poems, as well as an essay entitled "The Poetry of Sir Samuel Ferguson" were published in the Dublin University Review. In 1887 the family returned to London and in 1890, he co-founded the Rhymers' Club (later known as the "Tragic Generation") with Ernest Rhys. He collaborated with Edwin Ellis on the first complete edition of William Blake's works. He has a deep life-long interest in astrology, mysticism, spiritualism, and the occult. His first significant poem was "The Isle of Statues," which appeared in the Dublin University Review. His first solo publication was the pamphlet "Mosada: A Dramatic Poem" (1886), followed by the collection "The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems" (1889), "Poems" (1895), "The Secret Rose" (1897), and the Wind Among the Reeds" (1899). In 1889 he met and fell in love with Maud Gonne, an ardent Irish Nationalist. He proposing marriage to her in 1891 and was rejected. He subsequently proposed marriage to her on three other occasions over the next ten years and was refused each time. In 1896 he met Lady Gregory (Isabella Augusta Persse, wife of Sir William Henry Gregory), an Irish dramatist and folklorist who encouraged his Irish Nationalism and convinced him to pursue writing drama. In 1899 he, Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and George Moore established the Irish Literary Theater. It was not successful and disbanded in two years. Not to be dismayed, he and others established the Irish National Theater Society and opened the Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ireland, in December 1904. In 1909 he met the American poet Ezra Pound and the two wintered together for the next seven years in the Stone Cottage at Ashdown Forest with Pound nominally acting as his secretary. It was during this time that he wrote his most important collections of poetry, starting with "The Green Helment" (1910) and "Responsibilities" (1914). While an Irish Nationalist at heart and a member of the primitive Irish Republican Army, he did not actively participate in the 1916 Irish Easter Rebellion. He kept much of his revolutionary views to himself and would distance himself from the intense politics of the time. In October 1917 he married Bertha "Georgie" Hyde-Lees who was 27 years younger and was also involved in spiritualism and mysticism like he was, and practiced it in their first years of marriage to enhance his writing abilities. In 1922 he was appointed to the first Irish Senate and was reappointed for a second term in 1925. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in December 1923, which led to a significant increase in the sale of his books. In January 1926 his publication "A Vision" was released. He resigned from the Irish Senate in 1928 due to poor health and in 1934,he underwent the "Steinach operation," designed to reduce fatigue and the consequences of aging and to increase overall vigor and sexual potency. He remained a prolific writer in his later years and, in imagery, his poetry became sparer and more powerful as evidenced by "The Tower' (1928), "The Winding Stair" (1929), and "New Poems" (1938), which contained some of the most potent images in 20th century poetry. During this same time, he also engaged in a number of romantic affairs with younger women. In 1936 he became the editor of the "Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1892-1935." He died at the Hotel Ideal Sejour in France at the age of 73 and was initially buried at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. In September 1948 his remains were exhumed and reburied in Drumcliff, County Sligo, Ireland, in accordance with his wishes. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
Family links: 
  Bertha Georgie Hyde Lees Yeats (1892 - 1968)
  Anne Yeats (1919 - 2001)*
  Michael Butler Yeats (1921 - 2007)*
*Calculated relationship
Drumcliff Churchyard
County Sligo, Ireland
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
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William Butler Yeats
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William Butler Yeats
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William Butler Yeats
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