GREGORY, LADY

Lady Gregory Praises Yeats and his Play Adding that the Actors,“have raised the dignity of Ireland”

Item #20141


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GREGORY, LADY - Lady Gregory Praises Yeats and his Play Adding that the Actors,“have raised the dignity of Ireland”
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GREGORY, LADY - Lady Gregory Praises Yeats and his Play Adding that the Actors,“have raised the dignity of Ireland”

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GREGORY, LADY. (1852-1932). Irish author, patron of the Irish Literary Revival and, with poet W.B. Yeats, co-founder of the Irish Literary Theatre. ALS. (“Augusta Gregory”). 4pp. 8vo. Coole Park, April 10 (1904). On Coole Park stationery. To CORNELIUS WEYGANDT (1871-1957), an influential professor of literature and writer on American culture.

 

How very kind of you to have sent me that charming impression of our Seven Woods. You give the grey softness of our surroundings with wonderful truth. That was a very pleasant day to us also. I felt so glad when Mr. Yeats in a letter from America said he was to see you next day. It must have been such a pleasure to him to hear a voice he knew. He has given us news of you since then, & of your pleasant surroundings. He left this 2 or 3 days ago… & I go back to London tomorrow. We had been here for Easter. The plays in London were an immense success. The King’s Thresholdmost beautiful of all, & so beautifully spoken. Mr. Yeats had a most enthusiastic ‘call.’ The actors were well rewarded for their hard work, they have raised the dignity of Ireland by bringing so much fine work into notice. With my kind regards to Mrs. Weygandt, believe me…”

 

An accomplished writer and the hostess of a London literary salon attended by the likes of Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, John Everett Millais, and Henry James, Lady Gregory’s interest in Irish language and folklore was strengthened by an 1893 trip to the Aran Islands. She began collecting folk tales, and published them A Book of Saints and Wonders, The Kiltartan History Book and The Kiltartan Wonder Book. Gregory’s County Galway estate at Coole Park became the epicenter of the Irish Literary Revival, which, aided by a rise in Irish Nationalism, saw the publication of Irish folk tales, translations of Gaelic texts and new fiction and drama by Irish authors. With her neighbor, playwright Edward Martyn, and Irish poet and playwright W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), Gregory co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and, several years later, the important Abbey Theatre in Dublin. In 1916, Yeats purchased Lady Gregory’s Thoor Ballylee, a ruined Norman tower near Coole Park, which served as his country home from 1921-1929.

 

Our letter discusses Yeats’ play The King’s Threshold, written for the Irish National Theatre, and whose first draft Yeats had dictated to Lady Gregory in March and April 1903. The play was first performed on October 7, 1903 at Dublin’s Molesworth Hall.  

 

Gregory also mentions Weygandt’s impression of the “seven woods” of Coole Park, which had inspired numerous poems by Yeats including “In the Seven Woods” published in his 1903 collection, In the Seven Woods: Being Poems Chiefly of the Irish Heroic Age. At thetime of our letter, Yeats was returning from a successful American tour that ran from November 1903 to March 1904, where he spoke about “The Intellectual Revival in Ireland,” and was enthusiastically received by large audiences as well as the press.

 

Weygandt, a professor of English literature at the University of Pennsylvania from 1897 to 1952, had a special interest in poetry, especially the Celtic Revival, authoring several works on the subject while maintaining a correspondence with some of the movement’s leading members.

 

Philographers note: Lady Gregory’s many friends and prominent visitors engraved their initials in a copper beach at Coole Park, dubbed the Autograph Tree, which is still standing.

 

Written on a folded sheet of stationery, with a few tiny stains in the upper and lower right corners not affecting the writing; in very fine condition and accompanied by the original envelope.

 

 

 

Item #20141


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