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William Butler Yeats 13 June 1865 - 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet, and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served as an Irish Senator for two terms, and was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and others. He was born in Sandymount, Ireland and educated there and in London. He spent childhood holidays in County Sligo and studied poetry from an early age when he became fascinated by Irish legends and the occult. These topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and its slow-paced and lyrical poems display Yeats's debts to Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. From 1900, Yeats's poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.Of Anglo-Irish descent, William Butler Yeats was born at Sandymount in County Dublin, Ireland. His father, John Butler Yeats (1839-1922), was a descendant of Jervis Yeats, a Williamite soldier, linen merchant, and well-known painter who died in 1712. Benjamin Yeats, Jervis's grandson and William's great-great-grandfather, had in 1773 married Mary Butlerof a landed family in County Kildare. Following their marriage, they kept the name Butler in the family name. Mary was a descendant of the Butler of Ormond family from the Neigham (pronounced Nyam) Gowran branch of the family. They were descendants of the first Earls of Ormond.
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