W.B. Yeats

William Butler Yeats was born on the 13th of June, 1865 in the suburb of Sandymount, in Dublin. In 1867, his father moved the family to London to pursue his own ambition of be-coming an artist, ultimately becoming well known as a portrait painter.

The family lived in Bedford, in London and played host to some of the greatest poets, writers and thinkers of the day including George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. Of Os-car Wilde, he wrote, “My first meeting with Oscar Wilde was an astonishment. I never be-fore heard a man talking with perfect sentences, as if he had written them all over night with labour and yet all spontaneous.”

William’s mother, Susan Mary Pollexfen, the daughter of a wealthy Sligo family, intro-duced him to the great wealth of folktales that inspired so much of his writing. During his time in London he collaborated on and edited ‘Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888) and Irish Fairy Tales (1892).

In 1892, along with his friend Lady Augusta Gregory, he founded The Irish Literary Thea-tre, which later became the Abbey Theatre. One of the first productions was ‘Cathleen Ni Houlihan’ with his great muse and unrequited love, Maud Gonne in the title role.

In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee de-scribed as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.”

Yeats died in 28th of January, 1939 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France and though ini-tially buried there was later re buried in Drumcliff churchyard in Sligo in 1948. A fulfil-ment of his wishes.

His headstone bears the epitaph ‘Cast a cold Eye, On Life , On Death. Horseman. Pass by!’