January 22, 2016

William Butler Yeats (/ˈjts/; 13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as the first Irishman so honoured for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929).

That September, Yeats proposed to 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968), known as George, whom he had met through Olivia Shakespear. Despite warnings from her friends—"George ... you can't. He must be dead"—Hyde-Lees accepted, and the two were married on 20 October. Their marriage was a success, in spite of the age difference, and in spite of Yeats's feelings of remorse and regret during their honeymoon. The couple went on to have two children, Anne and Michael. Although in later years he had romantic relationships with other women and possibly affairs, George herself wrote to her husband "When you are dead, people will talk about your love affairs, but I shall say nothing, for I will remember how proud you were."

In 1867, when W.B. Yeats was two years old, the Yeats family emigrated to London from their home in Sandymount in Dublin. For the next fourteen years, Yeats spent long summer holidays with his grandfather in Sligo. Later in life, Yeats continued to come to Sligo for long summer holidays with his uncle and cousins. Sligo provided both a settled background and a landscape of mystery and beauty that stirred his imagination. Elsinore House, above, is believed to have been the summerhouse of WB Yeats. His cousin Henry Middleton lived here.

Yeats’ Tower plaque reads: 'I the poet William Yeats/ With old mill boards and/ sea green slates/ and smithy work from/ the Gort forge/ restored this tower/for my wife George/and may these characters/ remain/ when all is ruin once again'.