W.B. Yeats in 1932 Photo by: Bettmann/Corbis

W.B. Yeats' first play 'Love and Death' to be published and performed


W.B. Yeats in 1932 Photo by: Bettmann/Corbis

Boston College will publish an online edition of "Love and Death" on July 15, 2011.  This was the first play by Irish Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats that has never before been published or performed.

"Love and Death" was acquired by the University in 1993 from Senator Michael B. Yeats, son of W.B. Yeats, and is now part of the Yeats Collection at BC's Burns Library, the world's largest repository of original Yeats manuscripts outside of the National Library of Ireland.

 The play is contained in five notebooks, some of which include loose-leaf papers inserts. Yeats wrote the play in 1884, the same year that he began his earliest published plays, "Mosada" and "The Island of Statues".



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The Yeats project is a reflection of BC University Librarian Tom Wall's vision of making the unique holdings of BC's libraries widely accessible to facilitate scholarship in the humanities. The digitization of the play will shed light on the poet's other work from the period, and is likely to be of keen interest to Yeats scholars, particularly those studying the poet's juvenilia, as well as to scholars of Irish literature and to a general public eager to read some of his earliest writings.

Marjorie Howes, an associate professor of English and a faculty member in BC's Irish Studies Program, provided guidance to librarians involved in the project and to graduate student Dathalinn O'Dea, who created a transcription comprised of a full draft of the play and Yeats’ partial revisions, including faithful recordings of his corrections, cancellations, and occasional spelling errors. O’Dea will continue her work with the manuscript by giving a presentation at the Yeats Summer School in Sligo, Ireland this summer.

Burns Librarian Robert K. O'Neill expressed his gratitude to benefactor Brian P. Burns of Palm Beach, Florida, as well as to the late Senator Michael Yeats and his widow, Grainne Yeats, for making the Yeats acquisition possible.

 The John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections is named in memory of the Honorable John J. Burns, a 1921 BC alumnus who was one of its principal benefactors. It houses more than 250,000 volumes, 16 million manuscripts and impressive holdings of artifacts, maps, paintings,

hotographs, ephemera and architectural records, including the internationally-noted Boston College Irish Collection, the largest repository of Irish research materials outside of Ireland.

The digitization of the play – which will be available online here.


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