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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.32 pp.101-132

George Yeats: Poet's Wife

Yoon Jung Mook


This paper is an attempt to understand George Yeats: who she was, how shelived, and what kind of relationship she had with the poet W. B. Yeats. Based onthe recent biographical and critical studies of Elizabeth Butler Cullingford, BrendaMaddox, Ann Saddlemyer, and Margaret Mills Harper, the present writer tries toshow that George Yeats was not only the devoted wife of W. B. Yeats and motherof their two children, but also the poet's literary and spiritual collaborator.
The first introductory part of the paper deals with George Yeats's life until shemarried W. B. Yeats. Her birth and education, the first meeting with W. B. Yeats,and the establishing of a close relationship which, strengthened by common interestin occultism, led to their marriage in October 1917, are briefly surveyed. The paperthen discusses the problem which arose from Yeats's unresolved sexual love forIseult Gonne, and shows how George Yeats solved it by trying the automatic scriptat their honeymoon hotel.
The automatic script, which saved George and W. B. Yeats at the criticalmoment, and dominated the early years of their married life, is mainly discussed inthe next part of the paper. The paper first describes how it started, and thendiscusses the main issues related to it: why George did it, and whether it was "herhoax, a joint self-deception, or daimonic intervention" (Saddlemye xix), and how itaffected W. B. Yeats's life and work. In order to see how W. B. Yeats expressedhis feeling and thought about the automatic script in his poems, the writer of thepaper reads "Solomon to Sheba," "Solomon and the Witch," and "The Gift of HarunAl-Rashid."
The last part of the paper deals with George Yeats's life after the automaticscript and the "sleeps" ended in summer 1922. Unlike the exciting and sexually intimate life of early five years, the later long years of her married life were verytiring and "problem-ridden." The paper discusses the major problems she had to faceas wife of the great poet and mother of two children, and describes how she "livedthrough it with self-possession, with generosity, with something like nobility"(Elllmann xxviii).

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