W. B. Yeats and Irish Renaissance collections
The Irish Literary Revival, with W.B. Yeats as a key member, shaped Ireland's politics and sense of national identity in the early twentieth century. The movement sought to make Irish language and folklore a part of daily life in both rural and urban areas and was deeply connected to the nationalist political movement.
Yeats was a staunch supporter, believing that the Revival would confirm the existence of an Irish literary tradition on par with, rather than secondary to, that of Britain. He worked alongside Lady Augusta Gregory to publish collections of folk tales and was a founding member of both the National Dramatic Society and the Abbey Theatre.
Yeats's own writing, as seen in the W.B. Yeats Collection (MSS600), frequently draws on pre-Christian Irish legends. The collection includes literary manuscript drafts of poems and plays as well as holograph emendations to many of Yeats’s published works. Correspondence includes letters from Yeats discussing his poetic and dramatic works, Irish politics, the Abbey Theatre, and his personal life, and many are addressed to his friend and compatriot Lady Gregory.
Another collection, the Gonne-Yeats papers (MSS930), includes over 400 letters spanning nearly five decades of correspondence between Yeats and Irish nationalist Maud Gonne. The Maud Gonne papers (MSS771) provide further insights into the lives of both Gonne and Yeats.
Other collections related to Yeats and his circle include the Abbey Theatre collection (MSS 244), Cuala Press collection (MSS 232), Lennox Robinson collection (MSS 246), and Gregory Family papers (MSS 624). MARBL has an impressive collection of Yeats’ works, including unique volumes from Lady Gregory’s personal library and rare editions.
More detailed descriptions these collections are available in the EmoryFindingAids database.