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Important Archive of Yeats Letters
Yeats (William Butler) An important archive of thirteen early Autograph signed Letters and Cards, with one dictated letter, signed, mostly 1898 / 9, all to the journalist and former M.P. Thomas P. Gill, and with a typescript letter (carbon copy) to Yeats, unsigned, probably from Gill.
T.P. Gill (1858 – 1931), from Co. Tipperary, was originally a journalist. He was an Irish Party M.P. 1885 – 1892, resigning after failing to heal the breach over Parnell. In August 1898 he became editor of the Dublin Daily Express, with a brief to expand its arts coverage. Until he lost the job in Sept. 1899 he had considerable powers of artistic patronage, and so was of great interest to Yeats, and his literary colleagues. In 1900 Gill became Secretary of the Dept. of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Dublin, another in fluential post which he held for 20 years.
The present correspondence shows how assiduously Yeats cultivated a friendly journalist. Gill was quickly roped into the beginnings of the Irish Theatre Movement; see the letter dated 13.11.98; ‘People should be asked to support the Irish Literary Theatre on patriotic grounds, but they should first be made to feel that there is an actual school of Irish spiritual thought in literature and that their patriotism will support this. Ireland is leading the way in a war on materialism, decadence triviality as well as affirming her own individuality. That is our case.’
On 22.3.99 and 25.3.99 Gill was consulted about the disagreement with Edward Martyn over the theological soundness of ‘The Countess Cathleen’ ; and on 22.5.99 Yeats suggests that the Express might quote Max Beerbohm’s comments on the play. In an intriguing note on 3.10.1900 he says he thinks George Moore would accept a seat in Parliament, ‘if he had a definite offer of a seat without a contest.’ The unsigned typescript letter to Yeats, probably from Gill, advises him to go ahead with ‘The Countess Cathleen’ and to pay no heed to the theologians.
These letters represent almost the totality of Yeats’ correspondence with Gill; one further letter in the National Library of Ireland. After Gill left the Express in 1899, Yeats apparently dropped him from his list of useful friends. With the exception of the final letter (1908), all the present letters are published in Vol. II of Collected Letters.
* A fine and interesting correspondence, which gives considerable insight into Yeats’ preoccupations and his methods of orchestrating support for his various activities. The letters all have good signatures, and in the main are quiet legible. Six are addressed from Coole Park, two from Paris, the remainder from London, Sligo or unaddressed. As a coll. of m/ss., w.a.f. (1)