A collection of over 1000 items belonging to the Irish poet William Butler Yeats has been donated to the National Library of Ireland by his son Michael Yeats.
The collection includes manuscripts and drafts of prose poems and plays, many of which have never been published. They will be added to an already extensive Yeats collection held by the library. The collection is worth several hundred thousand pounds, but in real terms it is a national treasure and as such it is priceless.
Michael Hewson, Director of the National Library of Ireland believes the collection is significant as it shows versions of Yeats’ work at different stages, including amendments and corrections.
An interesting item in the collection is the blotter from Yeats’ desk from around the time he died. It shows scribblings and a draft of a poem.
Yeats himself wrote:
Accursed who brings to light of day, the writings I have cast away.
But the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Library Professor Hughes says this is a hazard they are happy to undergo.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 22 November 1985. The reporter is Michael Ronayne.