William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin, Ireland, on June 13, 1865. He was the eldest son of a painter. In 1867 his family moved to London, but he frequently visited his grandparents in Northern Ireland. There he was greatly influenced by the folklore of the region. In 1881 his family returned to Dublin. Their Yeats studied at the Metropolitan School of Art.
During school he became more focused on literature. Yeats made his debut in 1885, with the publication of his first poems in The Dublin University Review. In 1887, his family returned to Bedford Park in London, and Yeats devoted himself to writing. In 1889 he met Maud Gone, an actress and Irish revolutionary. He soon fell in love with her and she became a major landmark in his writing.
She later married Major John MacBride and inspired Yeats's poem 'No Second Troy' Yeats's early work did not reflect his Irish heritage but soon he turned towards his Irish culture for inspiration. Yeats studied many Irish folktales and in 1888 published a book of tales titled Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry. He also published a less detailed version for children titled Irish Fairy Tales in 1892. In 1897, Yeats's met Lady Gregory, an aristocrat and playwright, who shared the same interest in Ireland's past. In 1899 they formed the Irish Literary Theater.
Yeats worked as a director and writer for the theater. Some of his most famous dramas were CATHLEEN NI HOULIHAN and THE LAND OF HEART'S DESIRE. Yeats later proposed to Lady Gregory, but she refused his offer. Again in the same year he proposed to her daughter but she also declined.
Lady Gregory's passion for a free Ireland kindled Yeats's interest in the political struggles of Ireland. In 1917, Yeats bought an old stone tower near Cool Park. After he restored the tower it became his summer home and a symbol in his writing. Also in 1917, Yeats married Georgie Hyde-Lee. Later they had a son and a daughter together, Anne and Michael.
During their honeymoon they compiled their notebooks and formed the basis of A VISION. In 1922 he served as a senator in the Irish parliament, and in 1923 he was given the Nobel Prize. Yeats's would remain in office until 1928. In his final years he worked to finish A VISION. He published THE OXFORD BOOK OF VERSE in 1936 and NEW POEMS in 1938.
Yeats died in 1939 in Roque brune, France. He was buried there and in 1948 his body was moved to Ireland to rest as he had requested.