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William Butler Yeats Papers from the H. Lytton Wilson Collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Adminstrative Information

Detailed Description

Box 0

William Butler Yeats Papers from the H. Lytton Wilson Collection, 1896-1938 | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

By Finding aid encoded, Finding aid encoded, January 16, 2007

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Collection Overview

Title: William Butler Yeats Papers from the H. Lytton Wilson Collection, 1896-1938Add to your cart.

ID: 1/4/MSS 076

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

Extent: 0.2 Linear Feet

Arrangement: Arranged in chronological order.

Subjects: English literature - Irish authors, Wilson, H. Lytton, collector, Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939

Forms of Material: Authors, Irish - Manuscripts, Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939 - Correspondence

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The H. Lytton Wilson Collection contains both letters and manuscripts from Mrs. Wilson's time as Yeats's typist. The two letters, dated Dec. 2 and Jan. 12 (n.y.), concern Yeats's payment to her and some editing changes. The manuscripts, in various stages of drafting and completion, include: "Coole Park" from Dramatis Personae, "Introduction to Fighting the Waves," "The Holy Mountain," "An Irish Historical Note," "The King of the Great Clock Tower," "A Note on Louis Lambert," "Michael Robartes Foretells," "Somebody at Parnell's Funeral," "Three Songs to the Same Tune," and several pages of A Vision.

Of particular interest are the manuscripts from A Vision. Divided into eight parts, these drafts give the researcher an excellent insight into Yeats's composing process. For example, in the first part, some of the typed pages have more than half of the text crossed out and other pages have been completely marked out. Between the lines and along the sides of these pages, Yeats inserted corrections in his own hand. He also renumbered the pages. The corrections and insertions vary from single letters to entire paragraphs.

Biographical Note

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Dublin. His father was a lawyer and a well-known portrait painter. Yeats was educated in London and in Dublin, but he spent his summers in the west of Ireland in the family's summer house at Connaught. The young Yeats was very much part of the fin de siécle in London; at the same time he was active in societies that attempted an Irish literary revival. His first volume of verse appeared in 1887, but in his earlier period his dramatic production outweighed his poetry both in bulk and in import. Together with Lady Gregory he founded the Irish Theatre, which was to become the Abbey Theatre, and served as its chief playwright until the movement was joined by John Synge. His plays usually treat Irish legends; they also reflect his fascination with mysticism and spiritualism. The Countess Cathleen (1892), The Land of Heart's Desire (1894), Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902), The King's Threshold (1904), and Deirdre (1907) are among the best known.


After 1910, Yeats's dramatic art took a sharp turn toward a highly poetical, static, and esoteric style. His later plays were written for small audiences; they experiment with masks, dance, and music, and were profoundly influenced by the Japanese Noh plays. Although a convinced patriot, Yeats deplored the hatred and the bigotry of the Nationalist movement, and his poetry is full of moving protests against it. He was appointed to the Irish Senate in 1922. Yeats is one of the few writers whose greatest works were written after the award of the Nobel Prize. Whereas he received the Prize chiefly for his dramatic works, his significance today rests on his lyric achievement. His poetry, especially the volumes The Wild Swans at Coole (1919), Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921), The Tower (1928), The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933), and Last Poems and Plays (1940), made him one of the outstanding and most influential twentieth-century poets writing in English. His recurrent themes are the contrast of art and life, masks, cyclical theories of life (the symbol of the winding stairs), and the ideal of beauty and ceremony contrasting with the hubbub of modern life.


From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

Subject/Index Terms

English literature - Irish authors
Wilson, H. Lytton, collector
Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939

Administrative Information

Repository: Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted access.

Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright.  Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection.  Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.

Related Materials:

W. B. (William Butler) Yeats collection,

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University; William Butler Yeats

notebooks, Archives and Manuscripts, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Preferred Citation: [after identification of item(s)], William Butler Yeats Papers from the H. Lytton Wilson Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Box and Folder Listing

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[Box 1],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: InventoryAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: 1 p. ALS; Riversdale, Willbrook, Rathfarnham, Dublin, December 1, n.y.  Enclosing check and telling her she has not charged him enough.  Also sending her "An Irish Historical Note" and "Louis Lambert" and 1 p. ALS; Riversdale, Willbrook, Rathfranham, Dublin; January 12, n.y.  Telling her to change a line in "Three Songs to the Same Tune"Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Dramatis Personnae.  "Cool Park," Book 1: 38 foolscap pp. corrected typescript.  Pages numbered from 1-41, but pp. 18, 24, and 27 are missing.  Typescript includes the first eleven of twenty-three parts, corrected in ink and pencil on every page.  Although this typescript was supposed to be a final copy, (according to Mrs. Wilson, Yeats' typist) Yeats added and deleted many words and even long phrases; on page 33 he eliminated a complete paragraph.  Dramatis Personnae was published by the Cuala Press in 1935 and later as a chapter of Yeats' Autobiographies.  The work covers the years 1896-1902 in the life of Yeats and deals with Edward Martin and George Moore.Add to your cart.
Folder 4: "Introduction to Fighting the Waves": 8 foolscap pp. corrected typescript.  Divided in seven sections, but section 1 is missing.  Begins with section 2 on page one.  It has alterations on every page both in ink and blue crayon.  Pages 1-5 are heavily corrected, and page 5 has an additional holograph paragraph.  The stanza quoted on page 2 is from Yeats' poem "A Parnellite at Parnell's Funeral."  Fighting the Waves is a verse play first performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1929.  Since the play itself is short, and had not been printed previously, it is possible that this could be a revised copy of acting ms, though Mrs. Wilson groups it under autobiographies and historical notes.  This introduction was first published in The Dublin Magazine (April-June), 1932.  It also appeared in Wheels and Butterflies along with the play in 1934.Add to your cart.
Folder 5: "The Holy Mountain": 15 pp. corrected typescript, paged numbered from 2-16, with page one missing.  Many alterations and holograph insertions in ink; minor corrections in pencil.  The printed version of "The Holy Mountain" (in the Macmillan edition of Yeats' Essays and Introductions) is divided into seven.  However, the typescript includes all eleven sections and is complete with the exception of page one and the P.S. at the end of the "Introduction."  Section VI of the printed version begins on page 5 with "Shri Purohit Swami."  Section VII starts on page 8 of the typescript with "Shri Purohit Swami."  For the following pages, Section VI equals Section VIII, VII equals IX, and VIII equals X in the printed version.  On page 15 of the typescript the next section is renumbered section VIII and is equivalent to Section IX of the printed version.  "The Holy Mountain" is an introduction to The Holy Mountain by Bhagwan Shri Hamsa, 1934.  The Introduction was first published in The Criterion, July 1934, under the title, "Initiation on a Mountain."Add to your cart.
Folder 6: "An Irish Historical Note": 8 foolscap pp. original typescript (pp. 4 and 8 include only a few typed lines)/  Divided into five sections.  Pencil and ink corrections on every page.  On page 6 Yeats has inserted a complete paragraph.  This is apparently an unpublished typescript.  Mrs. Wilson writes: "I cannot altogether find where or how this manuscript was published and Mrs. Yeats has not been able to help me.  It begins with an Irish Historical Note and refers to his lectures in America and to "Four Bells" and refers to literary notes more generally - Balzac, Tolstoi, Keats, Blake, etc.  HE concludes by giving his four favourite authors (Shakespeare, the Arabian Nights, William Morris, and Balzac)."Add to your cart.
Folder 7: "The King of the Great Clock Tower": 9 foolscap pp. corrected typescript.  It has correction on every page, and pages 1, 2, 5, 7 are heavy with deletions and additions.  On the back of page 9 there is a little sketch that Yeats made for Mrs. Wilson of his idea for the scenery.  The typescript is basically the same as the printed version, but it has some differences.  For example, "the Stranger" in the typescript changes to "the Stroller" in the printed version.  Also, the printed version goes beyond the material in the typescript.  There are two more pages in which the First and Second Amendments speak after the inner curtain closes.  The King of the Great Clock Tower was first published by the Cuala Press in October, 1934.  It was also presented in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in that year.Add to your cart.
Folder 8: "A Note on Louis Lambert" [by Balzac]: 11pp. corrected typescript.  Number 1-7 in 8"x10" pages; number 8-11 in foolscap pages.  Complete.  Minor corrections in ink and pencil, but not as many as in some of his other typescripts.  Mrs. Wilson, his typist, says that it was probably meant to be a final copy.  The typescript supports Mrs. Wilson's statement because it is almost the same as the printed version (Macmillan's edition of Yeats' Essays and Introductions).  "A Note on Louis Lambert" first appeared in The London Mercury, June 1932.Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Michael Robartes Foretells: Two 9pp. carbon typescripts.  According to Allan Wade's bibliography of W.B. Yeats (p. 294), this typescript was written for A Vision, but was rejected.  It was first published in Blake and Yeats: The Contrary Vision by Hazard Adams.  Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York [1955], pp. 301-305  The carbon typescripts vary in minor details from this version.Add to your cart.
Folder 10: "Someday at Parnell's Funeral": 1 1/2 pp. corrected carbon typescript poem, signed "W.B. Yeats, April 9, 1933."  Typescript includes only the first part of the poem, consisting of four stanzas.  The first stanza has seven verses, while the other three have eight.  There are significant holograph corrections in ink, and on the first page, three lines have been entirely handwritten.  "Somebody at the Parnell's Funeral" was first published in "Introduction to 'Fighting the Waves,'" The Dublin Magazine, April-June 1932.  It was published under the title "A Parnellite at Parnell's Funeral" in The King of the Great Clock Tower, 1934, and later as "Parnell's Funeral" in A Full Moon in March, 1935.Add to your cart.
Folder 11: "Three Songs to the Same Tune," divided into Second Version and Third Version: A foolscap pp. carbon typescript corrected in ink.  (First two lines and title have been crossed out in pencil and the retyped.)  Second Version: Three stanzas of six verses rhyming ABCBDD.  The last two verses are repeated on all three stanzas.  Each stanza is fallowed by a chorus  (Those fanatics...) rhyming ABBA.  Third Version: Six stanzas of six verses rhyming ABCBDD.  Each stanza is followed by the same chorus as the Second Version.  The first page has very few corrections (last stanza), and the second page has no corrections at all.  Page three (Third Version) is heavily corrected.  The last stanza has been almost completely deleted, and underneath it Yeats has inserted five holograph lines, one of which has been crossed out and rewritten.  On the back of this oage are six lines, in Yeats' hand, unrelated to the poem in which he is crediting some Indian and Tibetan sources for and unidentified work.  They may be a preliminary draft for his commentary on "Supernatural Songs."  Page four has very few corrections.  6 pp.  carbon typescript of item A, numbered pp. 3-6.  (Pages 3 and 4 are repeated.  It does not include the last three stanzas of the Third Version.)  Our copies of "Three Songs to the Same Tune" are closest to the first printed version in The Spectator, February 23, 1934.  In later printings the last two verses of the Second Version are changed, and the chorus in the Third Version is different.Add to your cart.
Folder 12: "A Vision," first of eight parts: "The Complete Symbol," Chapter II, incomplete.  7 pp. MS, ink holograph, and 8 pp. typescript, alternating.  Six of the manuscript pages are three-ring notebook paper, and one is 8"x10 1/2 typing paper (this page has printed address as heading).  All the pages are heavily corrected in ink, and some in pencil.  Some of the typed paged have more than half of the writing crossed out, and some have been completely crossed out.  Between the lines and along the side of these pages, Yeats inserted corrections in his own writing.  He also renumbered the pages.  The corrections and insertions vary from merely letters to complete paragraphs.  This item provides excellent examples of Yeats' revisions.  On page one Yeats has deleted the lower half of the page.  He has tried correcting between the lines; tried inserting material at the top of the page.  He has tried correcting between the lines; tried inserting material at the top of the page, then crossed that out; tried inserting material at the bottom of the page, then crossed that out; and finally has inserted manuscript page 2 between pages one and two.  He has renumbered the following pages (2A and 2B) which were originally from two different typescripts and were both numbered "2."  Page 2A was cut in half and later crossed out completely.  Pages 3 and 4 are manuscript pages.  Pages 4A and 6A have been completely crossed out except for the footnotes.  Pages 8A, 8B, and 9 are manuscript pages.  In this valuable piece of Yeats' writing, pp. 1-8B are equivalent to pp. 187-192, and p. 9 is equivalent to pp. 202-203 of the printed version of A Vision - The MacMillian Co., 1938.Add to your cart.
Folder 13: "A Vision," second of eight parts: 6 pp. original typescript which follows instructions and corrections of item 1/12.  At the foot of page 2 of 1/12 there is a remark indicating that the note quoting Coleridge has been forgotten.  The note appears on page 2 of this typescript.  This item is almost the equivalent of corrected item 1/12. This typescript is lightly corrected; only on page 2 has some material been deleted.  Item 1/13 includes pages 187-190 of A Vision.  Two carbon copies of above 6 pp. plus 4 following pages (7, 8, 20, 21).  It includes pp. 187-192 and 202, 203 of A Vision.  On page 20 a sentence has been deleted on both copies.Add to your cart.
Folder 14: "A Vision," third of eight parts: Two copies of 6 pp. carbon typescript.  Includes pp. 187-190 of the printed version.  It follows item 1/13 because correction indicated have been made.Add to your cart.
Folder 15: "A Vision," fourth of eight parts; "The Soul in Judgement," Chapter III:  4 pp. MS ink holograph, and 2 pp. typescript with corrections on every page.  (2 MS pp. are on three-ring notebook paper, and the other 2 pp. are on typing paper.)  Pages are numbered 6, 15, 15a, 1, 22, 20.  This item is quite different from the printed version, and includes only a small portion of the complete chapter.  Manuscript page 6 is approximately equal to pp. 223-224 of the printed version of A Vision.  The following two pages (p. 15 and 15a) are equal to p. 230.  The next page (p. 15) is equivalent to pp. 231-232.  Page 22 equals pp. 234-235, and p. 20 equals p. 235 of the printed version.  As the numbering of the pages indicated, there are many gaps in this copy of chapter three.  These gaps and the numerous differences in the script indicate that this item is apparently a very early copy of chapter III. Note:  There are also two typed carbon copied of each of the manuscript pages.  They have been attached to its equivalent manuscript to help in the reading of Yeats' writing.  The numbering in these pages is 51-61, 15-15a, 18-18b, 22-23. (2) 2 pp. cc including material of pp. 15 15a.  [item 1/15(s)}  On item 1/15(1), the material on these pages has been deleted in pencil.  While both pages are carbons, both have a line in original typing, dividing the page in half.  On both pages, there is also a superscript "x," in original typing, on the first line of the page, and its referent right underneath the line dividing the page.Add to your cart.
Folder 16: "A Vision," fifth of eight parts: Two 18 pp. carbon typescripts of Chapter III, incomplete.  Begins on p. 6, section V, and continues until the end of the chapter.  Throughout the typescript many paged and sections are missing; apparently Yeats made additions to the final version.  There is unnumbered page belonging between pp. 22-23 of the typescript.  It has been inserted in copy (1) of the typescript.Add to your cart.
Folder 17: "A Vision," sixth of eight parts: Two 5 pp. typescript pages numbered from 10-14.  On upper left hand corner of p.10 (on both copies) is typed the number "XX".  It was intended to come somewhere after the description of the twenty-eight phases because it reads: "I have described the historical phases..."Add to your cart.
Folder 18: "A Vision," seventh of eight parts: Two typed carbon copies, relating to the reversal of the Shiftings and the Purification, as in p. 232 of the printed version.  Both paged numbered 9a.Add to your cart.
Folder 19: "A Vision," eighth of eight parts: One typed page, original, unnumbered.  Contents somewhat similar to contents on p. 237 of the printed version.Add to your cart.

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