William Butler Yeats

Facts

William Butler Yeats

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

William Butler Yeats
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1923

Born: 13 June 1865, Dublin, Ireland

Died: 28 January 1939, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Residence at the time of the award: Ireland

Prize motivation: "for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation."

Language: English

Prize share: 1/1

Life

W.B. Yeats grew up in a home of artists in Dublin, and he spent summers at the family’s house in Connaught, where he developed a close relationship with nature. These nature experiences proved to be very important for his development as a poet. As a young man, he experienced the fin de siècle era in London that lauded mysticism, symbolism and spiritualism and denigrated science and industrialism. Studies of the folklore and customs of the Connaught area inspired him to contribute to the resurgence of Irish literature, which became known as the Irish Literary Renaissance.

Work

W.B. Yeats made his debut as a poet in 1887, but in his earlier period his dramatic production outweighed his poetry. Along with playwright Lady Gregory, he founded the Irish Theatre, which later became the Abbey Theatre. His plays are often based on Irish legends and are full of mysticism and spiritualism. After 1910 his plays became more experimental and poetic. The later plays contained new elements, such as masks, dance and music, and were influenced by the Japanese Noh theatre tradition. During the last 20 years of his life, he reverted increasingly to poetry.

To cite this section
MLA style: William Butler Yeats – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2021. Mon. 27 Sep 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1923/yeats/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.