W.B. Yeats: A New Biography by A. Norman Jeffares

By A. Norman Jeffares

Part a century in the past, Norman Jeffares wrote the definitive biography of W.B. Yeats, which was once as a result released in a revised variation in 1990 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the poet's loss of life. the current quantity, a reissue of the 1990 variation with a brand new advent and bibliography, is an account of Yeats's lifestyles and paintings, including a desirable number of letters, pictures and poetry.

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P. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism (1884), given to him by his aunt Isabella Pollexfen, seems to have triggered off a search which was to occupy him all his life. In studying psychical research and mystical philosophy he began to break away from the influence of his father, whose sceptical attitude was countered by the son's increasingly keeping his new interests to himself when he was at home. Sinnett's books put forward Madame Blavatsky's claims to a spiritual authority given her by Masters who had existed in Tibet for thousands of years.

There was no holiday in Sligo in 1878, perhaps because of shortage of money, but in the spring of 1879 John Butler Yeats took a two-year lease of 8 Woodstock Road in Bedford Park, the first English garden suburb designed as a home for painters, writers, composers and others interested in the arts. The family enjoyed the change from the inadequate space in Edith Villas; they liked Bedford Park's streets with their large trees and houses of timber and red brick. But despite a Micawberish belief that prosperity would soon come, proclaimed optimistically in a letter to the artist's friend Edward Dowden (whose own career was going well since his appointment to the chair of English Literature at Trinity College in 1867), no commissions were coming in.

He was Yeats's first source of informed information about Irish oral tradition and texts of Irish poetry and legend and helped him intermittently for many years. Yeats worked at The Wanderings ofOisin from October 1886 to November 1887 - a particularly difficult period for the family. Matthew Yeats, who had acted as John Butler Yeats's agent, died in August 1885; a new agent succeeded him, and by October 1886 it was clear that not much was to be expected from the Kildare rents - indeed, John Butler Yeats was rapidly in debt to his new agent.

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