Yeats Family Members
Yeats and his Circle
George Russell, 1867-1935
An Ulsterman, a fellow student of Yeats’s, at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin in 1884. Later became a painter, a poet, an active supporter of the Irish Literary Renaissance; editor from 1910 of The Irish Statesman, a prolifie essayist, and, an effective and practical civil servant in the Department of agriculture. He was Yeats’s oldest friend, to whom he dedicated his prose romance, The Secret Rose in 1897. Mrs Yeats spoke of him as “the nearest to a saint you or I will ever meet”. He died of cancer. Yeats attended his funeral in Dublin.
John O’Leary, 1830-1907
Born in Co. Tiperary, O’Leary became a medical student at Trinity College, where he joined the revolutionary Fenian Brotherhood. In 1863, after a trial, being convicted of treason and felony he was sentenced to twenty years penal servitude in England, but was released in 1870 on condition he did not return to Ireland for fifteen years. On his return after his exile, he met Yeats and a wonderful friendship grew between the two. He was President of the Supreme Council of the I.R.B. until his death, on St. Patrick’s Day 1907.
Arthur Symons, 1865-1945
Poet, playwright and critic, he introduced Yeats to the French Symbolist school. A most important influence on Yeats in the nineties, helping on Yeats’s use of symbolism, already started in The Wanderings of Oisin. A member of the Rhymers Club; visited the Aran Islands and Coole Park with Yeats 1896.
J. M. Synge, 1871-1909
Synge, born in Co. Dublin, was one of Yeats’s nearest friends from 1896 until his early death from cancer in 1909. When they met in Paris in the 1890’s, Yeats advised Synge to leave and go the Aran Islands. Synge took his advice, so totally altering the direction of his life. The discovery by Synge of the tough peasantry and their violent lives was to influence Yeats vitally. The “Crazy Jane” poems and many of the Last Poems later indicate this influence of Synge’s thought on Yeats’s verse.