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William Bulter Yeats.

Abbey Theatre and Lady Augusta Gregory

Lady Gregory met Yeats in 1898. Gregory was the widow of the member of Parliament from Coole, Dublin. Her husband had also been the former governor of Ceylon. While editing her husband's autobiography, Lady Gregory developed an interest in Irish history and folklore. Gregory became so deeply a part of the Celtic literary renaissance, and particularly of the renaissance of Irish theater, that she became known as the godmother of the Abbey Theatre.

Yeats and Gregory first founded the Irish Literary Theatre which in 1904 became the Abbey Theatre, and the Irish Academy. While Lady Gregory was a director of the Abbey, there was no task she did not perform for the theater, from writing brief comedies used "to close the performances" to traveling with the company when it took its repertory abroad. Lady Gregory translated Moliere from French into the Gaelic idiom of western Ireland that she, Synge, and Yeats made familiar to readers and theater-goers. Yeats both wrote and produced plays for the Abbey Theatre, and until 1909 was the theater manager.

Celtic Myths, Magic, and the Celtic Literary Renaissance

Celts, especially in Ireland, maintained a mysterious imaginative and almost pagan folklore. Historians speculate that the development and maintenance of native Celtic Irish legends and mythology were possible because the Germanic invasions that took place in fifth-century Britain never reached Ireland. In ancient Celtic mythology Oisin filled the gap between paganism and Irish Christianity.

Yeats and other Irish poets used the idea of the Celtic national characteristic as a weapon in the cause of Irish nationalism. They intensified the ancient Irish legends in order to build up a distinctly Irish literary consciousness that would replace the dominant English culture. Yeats risked (and incurred) scorn, for instance, by stating without explanation that he believed in fairies.

Coole Park

Coole Park was the name of the Gregory estate in County Galway, the area west of Dublin near the Irish Sea. One of Yeats's principal works, The Wild Swans of Coole, is set at the estate.


Named for the Old Gaelic word for Irish warriors, the Fenians were a secret revolutionary group founded in 1858. The organization had strong links with the Irish-American community. In Dublin in 1867 an attempted Fenian insurrection failed. The league was reorganized as the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1873. When Yeats returned to Ireland from London in 1896 and became caught up in the Irish Revolution, he called himself a Socialist and he was undoubtedly a Fenian.

Gonne, Maude

Maude Gonne, a beautiful actress and a fervent Irish revolutionary, was the love of Yeats's life.

Rhymers' Club

Formed in the 1890s by Ernest Rhys and Yeats, the preeminent poets of the Rhymers' Club were Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson, and Arthur Symons. The club met at the Cheshire Cheese Cafe on Fleet Street in London. The Rhymers' Club publication, an illustrated quarterly review, was called The Yellow Book.

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Title Annotation:Literary Names and Terms: People and Places; important people and causes in the poet's life
Author:McCoy, Kathleen; Harlan, Judith
Publication:English Literature from 1785
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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