1861 – Katherine Tynan, poet, novelist and journalist, is born.

Katharine Tynan (b. Jan. 21, 1861 – d. April 2, 1931)

Also Katharine Hinkson, or Hinkson-Tynan, was born at Whitehall dairy farm, Clondalkin, County Dublin. She was one of 12 children of Andrew Cullen Tynan and Elizabeth Reilly Tynan.

She attended the Dominican Convent of St Catherine of Siena, Drogheda for 6 years (to age 14) and considered a religious novitiate.

She suffered chronic eye ulcers in childhood and was myopic from then onwards.

Her first poem appeared in Graphic in 1878 and she subsequently contributed poems to Irish Monthly, Hibernia and Dublin University Review from 1880 to 1885.

She first met W. B. Yeats (‘all dreams and gentleness’) in June 1885, in connection with C. H. Oldham’s Dublin University Review.

Thus began a life-long correspondence with Yeats, who described her as ‘very plain’ though always affectionate towards her. He advised her in early correspondence to make a speciality of her Irish Catholicism.

Her first book, Louise de la Valliere and Other Poems, was heavily influenced by Christina Rossetti and called by Yeats ‘too full of English influence to be quite Irish’.
Her second volume, Shamrocks, contained exclusively Irish subject-matter.

Her suggestion to Yeats that he should try an Irish subject resulted in Wanderings of Oisin.

She lived in Ireland until her marriage to Henry Albert Hinkson in 1893. Hinkson was a barrister and novelist and contemporary of Yeats. The Hinksons moved to Ealing and NottingHill; later he became Mayo Magistrate from 1914 (he died five years later, in 1919).

In 1913, she wrote memoirs of the literary revival, Twenty-Five Years, which appeared with several dozen of Yeats’s early letters printed without permission or any opportunity for corrections!

In 1920, she sold Yeats’s letters to Quinn for £100.

She also wrote 100 novels, 12 collections of short stories, 3 plays, and anthologies, as well as innumerable articles on social questions such as poor children and women’s working conditions.

An oil portrait of her, done by John Butler Yeats in 1887 is in the Municipal Gallery, Dublin (we’re told and we believe that is the image we include above; too bad it’s so small and rough).

Anyone unfamiliar with her might well recognize “The Wind that Shakes the Barley”. A well known song encompassing her poem as lyrics.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley
by Katharine Tynan Hinkson

There’s music in my heart all day,
I hear it late and early,
It comes from fields are far away,
The wind that shakes the barley.

Above the uplands drenched with dew
The sky hangs soft and pearly,
An emerald world is listening to
The wind that shakes the barley.

Above the bluest mountain crest
The lark is singing rarely,
It rocks the singer into rest,
The wind that shakes the barley.

Oh, still through summers and through springs
It calls me late and early.
Come home, come home, come home, it sings,
The wind that shakes the barley.

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