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R. F. Foster, W. B. Yeats, A Life, II. The Arch-Poet

R. F. Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History, University of Oxford
Hardback, 822 pages, 16pp halftone plates, Publication date: 2 October 2003


'A work of huge significance' Seamus Heaney

One of the greatest literary biographies of our time reaches its triumphant completion.


The Arch-Poet opens in 1915. Yeats is in his fiftieth year, at a crossroads in his life. Ahead of him lie seismic transformations in his personal, public, spiritual, and artistic life; an extraordinary marriage, tumultuous love affairs, political revolution, public controversy, and the writing of some of the greatest poetry in the English language. This is the account of Yeats at the height of his powers, a man of astounding energy, intransigence, artistic commitment and verve, intimately involved in the drama of the emerging Irish State. Life and work are woven closely together, as Roy Foster situates the poems in the events from which they sprang. Immensely involving, this is the account of one of the greatest lives of modern times.


Caption reads: Image of W. B. Yeats; (oil on canvas, 70 x 70 cm), 1975, by Louis le Brocquy, the pre-eminent Irish artist, Illustrator, and stage designer who was a family friend of the Yeatses (as a young boy met W. B. Yeats, was taught by Lolly Yeats, and later frequently visited Jack B. Yeats's studio). This is one of a great series of spiritual portraits begun in the mid-1960s. (© the artist; courtesy Taylor Galleries, Dublin. Photograph: Roy Hewson.)