Life of W. B. Yeats: A Brief Chronology (2024)

Life & Works of W. B. Yeats: A Brief Chronology


William Butler Yeats [WBY] b. 13 June, Sandymount, Co. Dublin, the eldest child of John Butler Yeats, a barrister-turned-painter, and Susan Yeats [née Pollexfen].


The Yeats family moves to London (July).


Family holidays in Sligo.


Susan Yeats takes the children to her parents’ house in Sligo .


Returns to London (Oct.).


Family returns to Ireland and settles at Howth, nr. Dublin (Summer).


WBY enrolls at Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin (May).


WBY publishes first poems in Dublin University Review (April).
WBY founds Dublin Hermetic Society with George Russell (“AE”) and Charles Johnston (June).
WBY meets Douglas Hyde, Katharine Tynan and John O’Leary.


WBY attends his first séance; Mohini Chatterjee comes to Dublin to help found Theosophical Lodge.


WBY leaves Metropolitan School of Art (April).
Mosada, A Dramatic Poem (Oct. 1886)


WBY returns to London with family (April).
WBY visits Madame Blavatsky on her arrival in London (May).
WBY meets MacGregor Mathers.


WBY meets George Bernard Shaw at William Morris’s home; meets Lady Wilde (Oscar’s mother (Sept.).
Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888) edited by WBY.
WBY joins the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society (Nov.).
WBY spends Christmas Day chez Oscar and Constance Wilde.


The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems(Jan. 1889).
WBY meets Maud Gonne [MG] (Jan.).


A son George fathered by Lucien Millevoye born to MG - unbeknownst to WBY.
WBY founds Rhymers’ Club with Ernest Rhys.
WBY initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (March).
WBY asked to resign from Esoteric Section of Theosophical Society (Oct.).


Representative Irish Tales (1891), edited by WBY.
WBY proposes to MG for the first time but is refused. MG’s son dies.
WBY and John O’Leary organise Young Ireland League meeting to unite various literary societies (Sept.).
Death of Charles Stewart Parnell (Oct.).
John Sherman and Dhoya (Nov. 1891), [two novellas].


Irish Fairy Tales (May 1892), ed. WBY;
WYB and others found Irish Literary Society, Dublin (August).
The Countess Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics (August 1892).


WBY enters the Second Order of the Golden Dawn (Jan.).
The Works of William Blake (Jan./Feb. 1893), ed. by WBY with Edwin Ellis.
The Poems of William Blake (Nov. 1893), ed. by WBY.
The Celtic Twilight (Dec. 1893), stories & prose pieces.


The Land of Heart’s Desire is produced privately in London (March).
A daughter Iseult born to MG, again with Millevoye (August).


A Book of Irish Verse (March 1895), ed. by WBY; Poems (August).


WBY takes rooms at Woburn Buildings, Bloomsbury; he begins an affair with Olivia Shakespear (Feb.).
WBY meets Lady Gregory at Tillyra Castle, Co. Galway – the home of Edward Martyn, a cousin of George Moore (August)
WBY meets J. M. Synge in Paris (Dec.).


The Secret Rose and The Adoration of the Magi (April / June 1897), stories.
WBY stays at Lady Gregory’s home Coole Park, Co. Galway (July); discusses the foundation of a Celtic Theatre with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and George Moore.


WBY working on ‘Celtic mysticism’, with MG and members of the Golden Dawn. WBY and MG Gonne contract a ‘mystical marriage’ (Dec.).


WBY visits MG in Paris and proposes marriage and is refused (Feb.).
The Wind Among the Reeds (April 1899), poems.
The Countess Cathleen staged as first production of the Irish Literary Theatre, Dublin (May)


Susan Yeats dies (Jan.).
MG involved in Dublin riots during Queen Victoria ’s Jubilee visit to Ireland (March).
Aleister Crowley repelled by WBY and others when sent by Mathers to seize Golden Dawn (April).


Diarmuid and Grania, originally planned with George Moore, staged in Dublin (Oct.).


WBY meets John Quinn (August); also meets James Joyce (Summer).
Cathleen Ni Houlihan staged with MG in title role (April).
The Pot of Broth staged by Irish National Theatre Society (Oct./Nov.1902).
Where There is Nothing(Nov. 1902).


MG marries John MacBride (Feb.).
Ideas of Good and Evil (May 1903), essays.
In the Seven Woods (August 1903), poems.
WBY leaves for first lecture tour in USA (Nov.).


WBY returns from America (March).
Where There is Nothing produced by Stage Society (June).
The Abbey Theatre opens with WBY’s On Baile’s Strand (Dec.).


WBY occupied with theatre business.


WBY occupied with theatre business & lecturing.


J. M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World opening sparks riots at Abbey Theatre (Jan.).
John O’Leary dies (March).
WBY’s father settles permanently in New York .


Fay brothers resign from the Abbey Company (Jan.).
WBY has an affair with Mabel Dickinson (Spring).
WBY’s Collected Works, 8 vols. (Sept.-Dec. 1908), published by Shakespeare’s head Press.
Mrs Patrick Campbell appears in Deirdre in Dublin and London (Nov.).


J. M . Synge dies (March).


WBY granted Civil List pension of £150 p.a. (August).
George Pollexfen dies. (Sept.).
The Green Helmet and Other Poems (Dec. 1910).


WBY Meets Ezra Pound in Paris (April).
WBY accompanies Abbey Players on tour in USA (Sept.).
WBY meets his future wife George [“Georgie”] Hyde Lees [GHL] (May).


The Cutting of an Agate (Nov. 1912), essays.


Poems written in Discouragement (Oct. 1913).
WBY rents Stone Cottage in Ashdown Forest , Sussex , with Ezra Pound as his secretary (Nov.).


WBY leaves for USA lecture tour (Jan.).
Responsibilities (May 1914), poems.
Home Rule Bill passed and suspended in European crisis (July).
GHL joins the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, sponsored by WBY (July).
Outbreak of World War I (August).


At Stone Cottage with Ezra and Dorothy Pound (Jan.-Feb.).
Lady Gregory’s nephew Hugh Lane lost in S.S. Lusitania (May).
WBY refuses a British knighthood (Dec.).


Reveries over Childhood and Youth (March 1916), autobiography.
At the Hawk’s Well, first of his Noh plays, produced privately in London (April).
Easter Rising (April).
Execution of 1916 leaders including John MacBride (May).
WBY visits MG in Normandy with marriage proposal and, when she refuses, discusses with her dg. Iseult (July-August).


WBY buys Thoor Ballylee nr. Coole Park (March)
WBY proposes marriage to Iseult and is refused (August).
WBY proposes to GHL and is accepted (Sept.).
WBY marries GHL [henceforth GY]. Honeymoons in Ashdown Forest ; GY begins automatic writing (Oct.).
WBY and GY [henceforth Yeatses] move to Stone Cottage; automatic writing produces early draft of Michael Robartes dialogues (Nov.).
The Wild Swans at Coole (Nov. 1917), poems.
Yeatses move to London but return to Sussex during Zeppelin raids; WBY meets Sir Edward Denison Ross to discuss Arabic for Michael Robartes.


Yeats move to Oxford (Jan.).
Per Amica Silentia Lunae (Jan. 1918), an essay.
Lady Gregory’s son Robert killed in action over Italy (Jan.).
Yeatses supervise restoration of Thoor Ballylee (May-Sept.).
Yeatses rent MG’s home at Merrrion Sq, Dublin (Sept.).
Armistice (Nov.).
Sinn Féin wins majority in General Election; Dáil Éireann set up in Dublin , declaring Irish independence (Jan. 1919).


Two Plays for Dancers (Jan. 1919).
A dg. Anne born to the Yeatses in Dublin (Feb.).
WBY gives up his rooms at Woburn Buildings (June).
Yeatses settle at Thoor Ballylee; automatic writing continues (Summer).
‘Troubles’ start up in Ireland (Oct.).


Yeatses leave for lecture tour in USA (Jan.).
GY has miscarriage (August).
Guerrilla war intensifies in Ireland (Autumn)


Michael Robartes and the Dancer (Feb. 1921).
Truce established in Ireland (July).
Yeatses live variously in Oxfordshire.
A son Michael born to the Yeatses at Thame in Oxfordshire. (August)
Four Plays for Dancers (Oct. 1921).
Anglo-Irish Treaty signed in London ; Irish Free State established (Dec.).
Four Years (Dec. 1921), autobiography.


Dáil Éireann ratifies the Treaty; Civil War in Ireland (Jan.).
J. B. Yeats dies in New York (Feb.).
Yeatses living at Thoor Ballylee; WBY works on A Vision (March-Sept.).
WBY receives Honorary degree from Trinity College , Dublin (July).
The Trembling of theVeil (Oct. 1922), autobiography.
WBY appointed to the Irish Seanad [Senate] (Dec.).


Civil War ends (April).
WBY awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (Nov.).
Plays and Controversies (Nov. 1923), plays and essays.
Gives Nobel Prize acceptance speech at Stockholm (Dec.).


Essays (May 1924).


Yeatses in Italy , where WBY completes “The Gates of Pluto” and “Dedication” for A Vision.


First version of A Vision (Jan. 1926) published by T. Werner Laurie.
Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars opens to riots at the Abbey Theatre (Feb.).
Autobiographies (1926), a collection of earlier autobiographical writings. (Nov.)


WBY suffers from lung-congestion and travels for his health (Nov.).
Yeatses visit Algeciras , Seville , and Cannes (Winter).


The Tower (Feb. 1928).
O’Casey’s The Silver Tassie rejected by WBY for the Abbey (June).
WBY resigns from Seanad (Sept.).
The Winding Stair (Oct. 1928), poems.
Yeatses winter in Rapallo ; WBY revises A Vision drafting “Seven Propositions”.


A Packet for Ezra Pound (June 1929).
Yeatses make their last visit to Thoor Ballylee (Summer).
Yeatses in Rapallo (Winter).


Yeatses stay at Coole (Autumn).


WBY finishes revising A Vision (publ. 1937).
WBY makes his first radio broadcast for BBC in Belfast (Sept.).
Lady Gregory in decline; WBY frequently visits her at Coole (Autumn-Winter).


WBY stays at Coole (Winter-Spring).
WBY broadcasts for BBC from London (April).
Lady Gregory dies (May).
Yeatses move to his last Irish home, Riversdale at Rathfarnham (July).
WBY leaves for his last US lecture tour (Oct.).
Words for Music Perhaps (Nov. 1932), poems.


WBY becomes involved with Blueshirts [Fascists] in Dublin (July-August).
The Winding Stair and Other Poems (Sept. 1933), incorporating The Winding Stair (1929) and Words for Music Perhaps and Other Poems (1932).
Collected Poems (Nov 1933.)

1934 WBY undergoes Steinach operation [vasectomy] for rejuvenation (April).
Wheels and Butterflies (Nov. 1934), essays and plays.
Collected Plays (Nov. 1934).

George Russell”AE” dies (July).
A Full Moon in March (Nov. 1935).
Dramatis Personae (Dec. 1935), autobiography.
Yeatses In Majorca; WBY working with Sri Purohit Swami on translation of Upanishads(pub. 1937).

1936 WBY collapses, GY summoned to Majorca ; WBY makes slow recovery (Jan.-April).
Oxford Book of Modern Verse (Nov. 1936), published to controversy.

The Ten Principal Upanishads(April 1937).
Revised version of A Vision (1937).
Essays 1931-1936 (Dec. 1937).
Irish Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) adopted: Irish Free State becomes Éire (Dec.).


New Poems (May 1938).
Purgatory staged at the Abbey Theatre (August) - WBY’s last public appearance .
Olivia Shakespear dies (Oct.).
Yeatses leave for South of France (Nov.).

1939 WBY dies at Cap Martin (24 Jan.); buried at Roquebrune.
Last Poems and Two Plays(July 1939).
On the Boiler (Sept. 1939), essays.
World War II begins(Sept.).
Posthum. Coole Park was pulled down in 1941; WBY’s remains were brought to Drumcliff, Co., Sligo ; MG died in 1953; GY died in 1968.
Life of W. B. Yeats: A Brief Chronology (2024)


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