"But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have
spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."
-- W.B. Yeats
William Butler Yeats (18651939), winner of the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in Dublin, Ireland and educated in London and Dublin. He was a leading figure in the Irish Literary Revival - a late 19th and early 20th-century movement that aimed to revive ancient Irish folklore, legends, and traditions in new literary works. He co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre in 1899 and was a director of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. From 1922-28 he was also a senator of the Irish Free State*.
In 1888 he published The Wanderings of Oisin, a long narrative poem that established his reputation; and in 1893 he published The Celtic Twilight, a book of peasant legends. In total, he wrote nearly 30 plays and a number of books of poetry. Critics consider his best poetry to be that inspired by personal longing - principally his unrequited love for Maud Gonne (an Irish actress and political activist who founded the revolutionary group, the Daughters of Erin) and his longing for the mythical "Irish Golden Age".
*The Irish Free State came into being following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 and comprised of 26 of Ireland's 32 counties. The remaining 6 "Northern Ireland" counties already had their own government under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 and chose to opt out of the Free State and thus remained part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
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