Lily Yeats, 54, co-owner of Cuala Press with her sister, is writing to their father, painter John Butler Yeats, 82, in New York City.
Lily Yeats at Bedford Square, by her father John Butler Yeats
The family has given up begging him to move back home; Lily is writing to vent her fears about the Irish War of Independence which seems to be raging all around her.
The war started with the Easter Rising over five years ago. Since last year the Black and Tans—unemployed war-weary soldiers from the Great War who have been recruited into the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British occupying force—have been violently marauding throughout the country.
The Black and Tans outside a Dublin hotel
Even in this posh Dublin suburb, three lorries of the thugs came racing down a nearby street the other night. The Yeats’ maid had to fall face down on the road to avoid being shot.
At the beginning of the year a British commission published a report strongly criticizing their behavior, and both the British Labour and Liberal parties have lambasted the Conservative government for its policy of violence to the Irish people.
Just this month, Pope Benedict XV, 66, issued a letter urging the
English as well as Irish to calmly consider…some means of mutual agreement.”
The Brits had thought he was going to condemn the rebellion. Now he’s saying that there are bad people on both sides.
A few months ago, Lily’s brother, poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, 55, now living safely in Berkshire, England, took part in an Oxford debate condemning the British policy. As he does, Willie spoke while dramatically striding up and down the aisles of the auditorium. It worked. He won the debate in favor of Irish self-government and against British reprisals.
Lily is writing to her Da,
if the present state of affairs goes on, England will have no friends left in Ireland…some say the Crown forces were very drunk—drunk or sober they are ruffians—what will dear England do with them when the time comes—it must come sometime that they have to be disbanded?”
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available on Amazon in both print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at email@example.com.
This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.