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William Butler Yeats (1856-1939)


Yeats was born in 1856 in Dublin, from a Protestant family, a fact that highly influenced his childhood and is relationship with the Irish. His love for art began thanks to his father, and when still a student he started being attracted to mystical doctrines, magic and occultism. His life will be characterised by an insatiable quest for the essence of Art and to overcome the dialectic conflict with the phenomena and imaginary past. In 1889, he fell in love with Maude Gone, an Irish patriot and actress, who unfortunately married another nationalist, John McBride. In the 1890s Yeats began one of the most important friendships of his life, the one with Lady Gregory, who travelled with him throughout Ireland, where they came in contact with many Irish traditions and folklore. After the Irish rebellion in 1916, he became closer to the moderates and more active in politics. In 1917, he married Georgie-Hyde Lees who, after four days of marriage began to write automatically, listening to “communicators”. In 1922, he became a senator in the upper house of the Dail. In 1923 he received the Nobel Prize and died in 1939 in France.

Phases


• Early period: this first phase was highly influenced by the Romantics and the Decadents, as well as Irish folklore, French Symbolists and the works of William Blake.
• Middle period: From the beginning of the 20th Century Yeats started to become more modern, and to use symbols to evoke universal myths. He also experimented technical theatre’s innovations.
• Later period: a new passionate intensity characterised his works.
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