‘Such Friends’ Reading and Viewing Lists: W. B. Yeats & the Founding of the Abbey Theatre

‘Such Friends’:

W. B. Yeats & the Founding of the Abbey Theatre

“…and say my glory was I had such friends.” –William Butler Yeats


Compiled by Kathleen Dixon Donnelly, Ph.D.



Hazard Adams. Lady Gregory.  The Irish Writers Series. Lewisburg, PA:  Bucknell University Press, 1974. A concise but all too brief biography.

Richard Ellman. Yeats:  The Man and the Masks. Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1979. One of the standard biographies.

Denis Gwynn. Edward Martyn and the Irish Revival. London:  Jonathan Cape, 1930. Might be hard to find, but the only real biography.

Norman A. Jeffares. William Butler Yeats:  Man and Poet. London:  Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1949. One of the best of the standard biographies.

Mary Lou Kohfeldt. Lady Gregory:  The Woman Behind the Irish Renaissance. London:  Andre Deutsch, 1985. More detailed and more interesting than the Adams book.

Brenda Maddox. George’s Ghosts:  A New Life of W. B. Yeats. London:  Picador, 1999. Focuses on his late-life marriage, and a really good read.

Ulick O’Connor. Celtic Dawn:  A Portrait of the Irish Literary Renaissance. London:  Black Swan, 1984. The best history of the whole time period and the characters involved.

B. L. Reid. The Man from New York:  John Quinn and His Friends. New York:  Oxford Univ. Press, 1968. Read it if you must, but it’s a slog and it makes this absolutely fascinating man seem so boring. I would love to write a decent biography of him.

W. R Rodgers, ed. Irish Literary Portraits:  Broadcast Conversations with Those Who Knew Them. London:  BBC, 1972. Just delightful. Transcriptions of a radio interviews with people who knew Yeats and others.

Weldon Thornton. J. M. Synge and the Western Mind. New   York:  Barnes and Noble, 1979. A good biography of a life which ended much too soon.

W. B. Yeats. Selected Poetry, ed. with an introduction and notes by A. Norman Jeffares. MacMillan, 1990. A collection of his best work, and the lengthy introduction and notes are the best introductory biography of him.

Video Tip:

Yeats: The Life and Work of William Butler Yeats. This DVD has four short films about his life with the theatre, his women, his involvement with spiritual movements, and his public self. It was produced by the National Library of Ireland where the films are shown as part of a fabulous exhibit. This is the one I used clips from on the ship.

Travel Tips:

Lady Gregory’s Coole Park is just south of Galway in the west of Ireland. The house is gone, but the park is lovely and you can see the autograph tree where her ‘such friends’ carved their names.

Yeats’ tower, Thor Ballylee is nearby. Climb to the top and get a great view of the countryside.

The Abbey Theatre is still open for business in Dublin, http://www.abbeytheatre.ie/.

If you would like to be included on the “Such Friends” mailing list, e-mail Kathleen Dixon Donnelly at kaydee@gypysteacher.com or visit us a www.suchfriends.wordpress.com, and @SuchFriends.

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