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W.B. Yeats was an Irish poet and playwright who is considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. In 1923, he received a Nobel Prize for literature. One of his most influential works is the poetry collection The Tower.
See the fact file below for more information on the W.B. Yeats or alternatively, you can download our 24-page W.B. Yeats worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
- William Butler Yeats was born on June 13, 1865 in Sandymount in Dublin, Ireland.
- He was born to John Butler Yeats, who was training as a lawyer but went on to become a portrait painter, and Susan Mary Pollexfen, who came from a rich merchant family.
- William Yeats was raised in the the Protestant Ascendancy, a political and socio-economic domination of Ireland from the 17th to the 20th century.
- Yeats did not fully identify with either Protestantism or Catholicism, the two traditional religions in Ireland.
- William Yeats spent much of his early years in London, where his father pursued art studies.
- His whole family moved to London in 1867 when Yeats was only two years old.
- His family relocated back to Dublin in 1880 and there he attended high school.
- Yeats first pursued art studies at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin, before he changed paths after his poems were published in the Dublin University Review in 1885.
- In 1887, his family moved back to London, where Yeats pursued writing as a profession.
- In London, he met fellow poets and playwrights Oscar Wilde, Ernest Rhys, George Bernard Shaw, Lionel Johnson, William Morris, and W.E. Henley.
- It as also in London where he met Maud Gonne, an Irish revolutionary, feminist, and actress, and fell in love with her.
- Maud Gonne became Yeats’ muse in some of his works.
- When Yeats proposed marriage to Maud Gonne, she did not reciprocate his feelings and rejected him.
- The drama The Countess Kathleen written by Yeats in 1892 was dedicated to Maud Gonne.
LIFE IN LONDON
- Yeats became a member of various groups in London.
- Together with fellow writer Ernest Rhys, Yeats founded the Rhymers’ Club poetry group, with some of his friends as members such as Lionel Johnson and Arthur Symons.
- Yeats was also fascinated with mystic elements, which is why he joined the Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret society committed to learning about the occult and other mystic topics.
- Although he lived in a period of science and technology, he was more interested in visionary traditions and poetic subjects.
- Yeats’ interest in Irish folktales became topics tackled in his work, such as The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889) which is a story about a mythic Irish hero.
- In his poems, Yeats drew inspiration from Irish identity and the developments happening during his time, such as rise of Charles Stewart Parnell’s leadership in the 1880s and of Irish nationalism in the 1890s.
- When Irish patriot and leader Charles Stewart Parnell died in 1891, Yeats felt a gap in the political situation of Ireland.
- He turned to art and literature to fill this gap and worked on his own contributions.
- In 1893, he published The Celtic Twilight, a volume of essays drawn from his political motivations.
- Five years later, in 1898, Yeats met Augusta, Lady Gregory, a playwright who became his close friend.
- It was in Lady Gregory’s home where Yeats spent his summers.
- Yeats collaborated with Lady Gregory to write for the Irish stage. The 1902 production of Cathleen Ni Houlihan is credited to both writers.
- Yeats purchased his own home in Lady Gregory’s neighborhood.
- His home was named Thoor Ballylee, which he also called the Tower, and eventually became a symbol mostly used in his best poems.
LITERATURE AND DRAMA
- Yeats dedicated the rest of his life to theatre and literature.
- He was one of the founders and became a director of the Irish Literary Theatre, which he remained with until his death.
- As theatre director, he contributed his own plays, managed internal and external affairs, and encouraged playwrights to contribute their works.
- Some of his most popular plays were The Land of Heart’s Desire (1894), Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902), The King’s Threshold (1904), and Deirdre (1907).
- In 1904, the theatre was renamed the Abbey Theatre.
- Yeats also published several poetry collections between the late 19th century and early 20th century.
- Some of his most famous works are: Poems (1895), The Wind Among the Reeds (1899), In the Seven Woods (1903) and The Green Helmet (1910).
- It was in the late 1910s when Yeats found new inspiration and kept producing much more refined work. The Wild Swans at Coole (1917) and The Tower (1928) are two of his best works.
- Yeats was married to George Hyde-Lees in 1917, with whom he had two children: Anne Butler Yeats (1919) and William Michael Yeats (1921).
- In 1922, Yeats accepted an invitation to be a member of the new Irish Senate, where he served for six years.
- He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.
- Yeats continued to write until his death. He died on January 28, 1939 in France.
W.B. Yeats Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the W.B. Yeats across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use W.B. Yeats worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about W.B. Yeats who was an Irish poet and playwright who is considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. In 1923, he received a Nobel Prize for literature. One of his most influential works is the poetry collection The Tower.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- W.B. Yeats Facts
- Yeats’ Biography
- Arranging Life Events
- Truth or Trash
- The Emerald Isle
- Notable Poets
- Play Unscramble
- Political News
- Poem Interpretation
- My Own Poem
- Letter to Mr. Yeats
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Use With Any Curriculum
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