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Collection Overview

Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
W. B. Yeats Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1888-1950 (mostly 1888-1937)
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of selected material by and about the Irish poet and dramatist William Butler Yeats, including correspondence, a poetry manuscript, photographs, family items, and Cuala Press ephemera.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of selected material by and about William Butler Yeats, including correspondence, a poetry manuscript, photographs, and family items. Correspondents include Arthur Henry Bullen, Ghita Corri, Oliver St. John Gogarty, Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory, Mrs. Frances Franklin Grigson, Althea Gyler, "Mr. Jackson," Elkin Matthews, a Mr. or Mrs. Ray, Johnston Forbes-Robinson, A. J. A. Symons, Katherine Tynan, and Yeats's sister Elizabeth (Lolly) Yeats. The subjects of the correspondence includes the Abbey Theatre, books, publishing, and The Cuala Press. There is a fragment of a letter from Lady Gregory to John Butler Yeats inviting him to attend a reading by his son of the poem "The Shadowy Waters." Included is a signed typescript copy of the poem "The Three Hermits" with several holograph corrections, bearing the stamp of THE SMART SET, a literary magazine, on the first page. Also included are miscellaneous family items, including two letters by Elizabeth C. Yeats, dated 10 November 1927 and 7 January 1937, to the publisher "Mr. Bailey"; photographs of W. B. Yeats and his sister Susan, his son Michael Butler Yeats, his daughter Anne, and his sister Elizabeth; and Cuala Press ephemera.


Folders are arranged by accession number.

Collection Creator Biography:

Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939.

William Butler Yeats, Irish poet, dramatist, essayist, and a driving force of the Irish literary revival, was the son of the famous portrait painter John Butler Yeats. Yeats developed an interest in mysticism and visionary traditions as well as in Irish folklore, and both interests became the sources of poetic imagery for him. In London he was a founder of the Rhymers' Club and friend of Ernest Rhys, Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson, William Morris, W. E. Henley, and Arthur Symons. In Ireland, he was associated with J. M. Synge, "AE" (George W. Russell), Douglas Hyde, George Moore, and Lady Gregory. He helped establish the Irish Literary Theatre in 1899 (later the Abbey Theatre) and was its director till the end of his life. He was a member of the Irish Senate from 1922 to 1928 and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. His brother, Jack Butler Yeats, was also an artist, and his sisters, Susan (Lily) and Elizabeth (Lolly), assisted in the establishment of the Dun Emer (later Cuala) Press.

Collection History


The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.

"The Three Hermits" poem was purchased in February 1945 .

Letter to "Lolly", letter to K. Tynan, and letter of Forbes-Roertson were purchased in November 1952 .

Letter to Mrs. Grigson was purchased on May 6, 1958 .

Letters to Mr. or Mrs. Ray and letter to Mr. Brophy were purchased in April 1959 .

Letter to Mr. Jackson was a gift of Cyril I. Nelson on August 8, 1968 .

Letter of Lady Gregory, with a note by Yeats dated 7 April 1914, was a gift of Leonard L. Milberg, Princeton Class of 1953, for the Milberg Irish Playwrights Collection on February 12, 2002 .

17 Letters from Yeats to "Mr. Bullen" purchased from the antiquarian book trade in the 1970s but not accessioned until 2007 (AM 2007-121).


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

W. B. Yeats Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1