William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin, the son of painter John Butler Yeats, he spent much of his childhood in Co Sligo which was a huge source of inspiration for him, not least the beautiful ‘Lake Isle of Inisfree’.
In 1917, William Butler Yeats published ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’, and from then onward he reached and maintained the height of his achievement. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and, as a celebrated figure, he was indisputably one of the most significant modern poets and confounded expectations by producing his greatest work between the ages of 50 and 75.
Yeats’ love life was as interesting as his artistic work. At Fifty-two years, he got married, but not to Maud Gonne, the love of his life. Instead he married 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968) despite the fact that only weeks previously, Yeats had proposed to Maud Gonne’s daughter, Iseult Gonne, from her French Boulangist lover Lucien Millevoye. Her husband, John MacBride, participated in the rebellion and was executed afterward. Yeats reacted by writing ‘Easter, 1916,’ an eloquent expression of his complex feelings of shock, romantic admiration, and a more realistic appraisal.
Despite the strange circumstances the marriage of Yeats and Hyde-Lees was a happy one producing two children.
Featured Photo: Yeats’s Grave, Drumcliff, Co Sligo, William Duggan Photography
Photo: A Coat on a wall in Leiden, Netherlands