“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, June 5, 1922, Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway, Ireland

The Yeats family is settling in nicely to their new home in the west of Ireland, a 15th century Norman tower they have re-named Thoor Ballylee.

The poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, about to turn 57, is impressed by the way his wife Georgie, 29, not only takes care of their two children, Anne, 3, and Michael, almost 10 months old, but has also decorated their home to look like a 14th century painting.

Interior of Thoor Ballylee

Uncharacteristically, Willie has been thinking a lot about family. He has just sent off to his publisher the second volume of his Autobiographies, titled The Trembling of the Veil. His father, the painter John Butler Yeats, died about four months ago at age 83, in New York City. Willie and his sisters are thinking of bringing out a volume of their father’s memoirs.

His friend and mentor, Lady Augusta Gregory, 70, has been at her home, Coole Park, about four miles down the road from Thoor Ballylee, working on her own memoirs about their days founding The Abbey Theatre together. She’s been reading out sections to Willie and incorporating many of his suggestions. Their writing styles are very different—Augusta is trying to remain objective; Yeats favors a more impressionistic interpretation.

Coole Park, drawing by W. B. Yeats

Now that The Trembling of the Veil is completed, today Willie is writing to his friend in New York, the Irish-American lawyer and patron of the arts, John Quinn, 52.

He brings Quinn up to date on the family living arrangements and tells him that his godson, Michael, now has eight teeth! Anne has invented her own version of The Lord’s Prayer, which includes, “Father not in heaven—father in the study,” and “Thine is the Kitten, the Power, and the Glory.”

W. B. and Georgie Yeats

Quinn had expressed his concern about how Ireland’s political turmoil is impacting the west of the country. Yeats assures him that there hasn’t been much trouble here:

There was what seemed a raid at Coole, men came and shouted at night and demanded to be let in, and then went away either because the moon came out or because they only meant to threaten.”

Most importantly, Willie wants his friend’s permission to dedicate his latest volume to Quinn.

If you violently object you must cable…for [Werner Laurie, the publisher] is in a devil of a hurry.”

The dedication reads,

To John Quinn my friend and helper and friend and helper of certain people mentioned in this book.”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This month I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after The Great War at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Carnegie-Mellon University.

In the fall I will be talking about the centenary of The Waste Land in the Osher programs at both Carnegie-Mellon University and at the University of Pittsburgh.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

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