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William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Yeats was born in Sandymount, south of Dublin, into a prosperous family where his father had studied law and art. His mother was from a prosperous merchant and shipping family.

The family moved briefly to the maternal home in Sligo, western Ireland, soon after his birth but moved to England in 1867 where he was educated at home until 1877. The family returned to Dublin in 1880 where he frequented his father's art studio, became acquainted with poets and began his writing career but the family returned once more to Ealing, London, in 1887.

Yeats met Maud Gonne in 1889 for whom he developed an unrequited infatuation but she entered a troubled marriage to a leading figure of the independence movement having rejected three proposals of marriage from Yeats. He married the much younger Georgie Hyde Lees in 1917 who bore him two children.

Despite his protestant upbringing, Yeats became an Irish Nationalist but somewhat distanced from revolutionary activities. In the newly independent republic in 1922, he served with distinction two terms as senator.

Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 which he claimed to be more for a representative of Irish literature than for him.

He died aged 73 years in Menton, France, where he was buried, but his remains were transferred to Sligo in 1948. Yeats is remembered as a notable symbolist poet of twentieth century literature who passed from his early Pre-Raphaelite period into irony and spiritualism.