William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats was born June 13, 1865, in Dublin, Ireland, and grew up in County Sligo in a very artistic family.  He studied painting as a teenager, but quickly realized he preferred writing poetry as his creative outlet, and in 1884, some of his first poems were published in the Dublin University Review.  During his young adult years, his family lived in London, though he visited Ireland often.  After several failed marriage proposals to Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, Yeats eventually married Georgie Hyde Lees, a twenty-four-year-old woman twenty-seven years his junior, though Maud remained a strong influence in Yeats’ poetry throughout his life.

Around the turn of the century, Yeats honed his skills as playwright, becoming chief writer for the Irish Literary Theatre, and eventually became one of the founding members of the famous Abbey Theatre in Dublin. A significant contributor of the Irish Literary Revival, much of Yeats’ work draws from Irish history and mythology, and even reflects Yeats’ involvement in politics.  Beginning in 1922, he served two terms as an Irish Senator.  In December of 1923, Yeats won the Nobel Prize in Literature and continued to write prolifically throughout his later years.  Most critics argue that Yeats’ best work developed after he won the Nobel Prize, a feat uncharacteristic of most poets. Yeats died in France in 1939.