The W. B. and George Yeats Library: A Short-Title Catalog
Undertaken at Dalkey and Dublin, Ireland, 1986-2006

by Wayne K. Chapman

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Preface to the Catalog

This catalog of bibliographic citations accounts for every publication identified as part of the W. B. Yeats Library, which, since the death of Anne Yeats in 2001, has become a distinct part of the National Library of Ireland (NLI). In effect, the alphabetical list constitutes a census of the items that define the Yeats Library as a body, not counting publications that were sold or otherwise dispersed by the poet or his wife, George Yeats, in their lifetimes, or by members of their family up to 1971, when the late Glenn O'Malley made an inventory that became the foundation for Edward O'Shea's A Descriptive Catalog of the W. B. Yeats Library, Volume 470 of the Garland Reference Library of the Humanities (New York: Garland Publishing, 1985). Although that volume is difficult to locate today beyond the libraries that acquired copies before the book went out of print, it was the decision of the NLI to maintain O'Shea's alphabetical arrangement and numbering system instead of the subject order used by Yeats and his wife and as reconstructed in the shelving arrangements that Anne Yeats and Yeats scholars found convenient when the library occupied her study at "Avalon," Dalkey, Co. Dublin.1 As I've said elsewhere, most of the books at that time, "save those of W. B. Yeats and oversized, multivolume sets such as the three Cambridge history series (ancient, medieval, and modern periods)," were "in one room although at no time when Yeats was alive did he have a 'library' as such. The books he owned were distributed throughout his various residences in Dublin. Anne Yeats shelved her library from floor to ceiling and arranged the collection by row (or column) according to subjects her father and mother used when filling available space about their homes with the volumes of a 'working library'" (ibid.). There were 14 rows of shelves in Anne's library, the first two (immediately around the left doorjamb going in) contained her mother's books, which were generally not included in the O'Shea bibliography though many other books belonging to her were distributed about the library according to subject. O'Shea writes in his "Introduction" that the decision was his to depart from "the unique organization of Yeats's library as Anne Yeats remember[ed] it was arranged in his lifetime and as it has been reconstituted by Glenn O'Malley according to broad subject categories: poetry; drama; religion and myth; history; classical literatures; fiction; philosophy; theosophy, magic, astrology; Irish materials; and art (including Blake)" (xv-xvi).

The decision to depart from the Yeatses' subject order and its many inconsistencies was probably the right one from the standpoint of the printed volume in the Garland Reference Library, given the introduction of a subject index and an "Index of Autographs (Including Owners, Presenters, and Annotators, but not WBY)." An index is not necessary for the present Short-title Catalog because the technology allows that the contents (in PDF and HTML) will be fully searchable in either form. O'Shea's autograph index was more a service to the descriptions given to annotated items in his bibliography than to my work here, so the Short-title Catalog goes without such an index. His numbering system emulates the procedures of Allan Wade in A Bibliography of the Writings of W. B. Yeats (3rd. edn., 1968), and, unfortunately, considering the system's incapacity to account for lost as well as recovered items, it is still the O'Shea numbering system that the NLI uses to catalogue this collection.

As the Report of the Council of Trustees of the National Library of Ireland 2002 states (pp. 56-59), the Garland book describes only "for the main part" the contents of the Yeats Library. When unpacking the 82 crates that the NLI received in June 2002, "it became evident," Assistant Keeper Gerard Long writes, "that the collection, as received, did not fully match the O'Shea catalogue; some items listed by O'Shea were not present, and, by way of compensation, some items were present which are not listed in the published catalogue." Some of the compensating additions came about when the NLI incorporated the two rows of George Yeats's personal copies that had been isolated in Anne Yeats's library. In part of its online conspectus, the NLI rightly calls the entire acquisition "The Library of W. B. Yeats and George Yeats" (see below). Many of the other additions to YL (as O'Shea's catalog is frequently abbreviated) are noted in my work for Yeats Annual, particularly "Additional Books in the Library, 1989, and Other Problems," Part II of the illustrated piece "Notes on the Yeats Library, 1904 and 1989."2 Without systematically looking, Anne Yeats and I recovered 20 titles not listed in YL and probably missed by O'Malley in his 1971 inventory. Anne and I were not counting her mother's books in rows 1-2. There were "also various Bibles, missals, and apocrypha" as well as (in Anne's words) "the hospital shelf," which carried partial and damaged works and ephemera, as well as a small shelf over the entry way with an association with childhood—an old copy of A Day in a Child's Life, illustrated by Kate Greenway, for example. It took some time to determine that this book, like two others reported as "Other Problems," was actually in YL but misattributed, necessitating some movement of YL items in relation to the NLI materials in this collation.

Hence, the 2,492 entries in YL have now received a long overdue, systematic review and reconciliation with the NLI's inventory of the Yeats family's latest gift. In make-shift fashion, the NLI assigned call numbers beyond those in YL (starting with the number 3001) to "Books in the Yeats Library [published during Yeats's lifetime] but not in the O'Shea Catalog." Some 86 such entries were introduced in this way, and they are listed below as NLI 3001-3075, with letters annexed to numbers to indicate duplicates. The same procedure has been followed in re-numbering only those items confirmed in the NLI collections since the acquisition of 2002. If an item is missing, it has received an "x" in place of a number. The W. B. and George Yeats Library: A Short-title Catalog is thus intended to help scholars determine what materials they may need to see without having to locate a copy of YL. My collation incorporates notes on relevant addenda, errata, and missing items, as well as inserts and other associated matter. In the future, the NLI may scan and link YL to their website, solving the problem of its unavailability but not the problem of collating it against the Yeats Library's actual stock.

To illustrate the problem, one might cite an extensive set of photocopies made after 1972 by Roger Nyle Parisious and Anne Yeats, who put her parents' library in order. Classified today as "Manuscript Material from the Library of W. B. Yeats and George Yeats / Photocopies of annotations, markings, bookmarks etc. made in publications; catalogues and lists; prints" (MSS 40,568-40,597 / Accession No. 6194), these back-up copies are valuable to fill in some of the gaps. Referred to in the Catalog below, in a separate set of brackets after the YL number (if applicable), I have given the manuscript and folder number thus: "NLI 40,568/17" (for example)--followed by the number of sheets in the folder and the envelope number. As a frequent user of the library before it came to the National Library, I will say that bookmarks laid into some of the books are not by Yeats.3 Still, that caveat aside, it is good to have available all of those photocopies. Certainly of service to one laboring at descriptive bibliography, the Short-title Catalog was created as a necessary first step toward a longer work in progress on Yeats's annotations, with the approval of the W. B. Yeats Estate, Michael Yeats and A. P. Watt Ltd. Incorporating notes on the photocopied materials and their extent seems appropriate for the present online aid.

Parallel matter not specifically noted here, although reflected in the asterisks ("*") that O'Shea placed beside some of his numbers, is the card catalogue that someone (neither Yeats nor his wife) compiled in the 1920s in anticipation of moving or traveling.4 The books listed in the card file that are also listed in YL get the asterisk. Out of the 1,159 entries, O'Shea reported 521 missing (the NLI gives the number as "some 300") and published the list of AWOL items shortly after the appearance of YL.5 Incorporating all of George Yeats's books with the collection into one Yeats library seems to have been one way to amend the early bookkeeping on its contents at that time. Apart from good luck, there are few means of learning where the other missing books from that era have gone. O'Shea writes: "Anne Yeats speculates that whole cartons of books may have been lost in frequent removals. Other items were lent out by the poet, a largesse that Mrs Yeats discouraged but apparently never stopped completely" (ibid., p. 279). Looking for patterns in the list of books O'Shea did not find by comparing O'Malley's foundational list against the 1920s card file, O'Shea concluded that "certain kinds of books may have been intentionally 'weeded out'": such as popular novels (in spite of Yeats's penchant for detective and cowboy fiction, as his daughter has reported), occult writings, and "faded enthusiasms" such as Wordsworth, Katharine Tynan Hinkson, and G. R. S. Mead. One of the Meads that I reported finding in the library in 1989, Orpheus (London: Theosopical Publishing Society, 1896), had been returned by Kathleen Raine in September 1975, after she found it in John Watkin's Bookshop. I also reported six books of poetry by Laurence Binyon that were not missing from the library as faded enthusiasms but sitting where they were supposed to be by subject.

A poet's working library, like almost anyone's, is subject to change. In times of need, Yeats himself is known to have thinned his collection by selling copies of books he thought no longer necessary to have around. A "List of Books Sold to [the] National Literary Society, London, 9 Jan. 1894" (NLI 30,684) is a case in point, a receipt from James Duffy & Co. Ltd., Publishers, Printers, Bookbinders and Booksellers, recording the exact shillings and pence the young poet made by parting with some 46 books, fewer than half which were of Irish interest. Editions of poets such as Gerald Griffins, Clarence Mangan, and Thomas Moore; speeches and political tracts by Grattan, Burke, and Swift; histories and anthologies such as Patriot Parliament, Concise History of Ireland, Gardiner's History of England, Songs of Ireland, A Book of Irish Ballads, Young Ireland, Lays of the Western Gael, and Yeats's own Irish Fairy and Folk Tales were only slightly outnumbered by "classic" works such as Dante in translation, Pope's translations of Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, Dryden's Virgil, Plutarch's Lives, a Globe Shakespeare, Bacon's Essays, Macauley's Essays, a 2-volume Walter Scott besides Thoreau's Walden, the novels Ivanhoe, King Arthur, Robinson Crusoe, David Copperfield, and selections from the poems of Wordsworth and Robert Browning. These books were all gone well before the Yeats library inventories of c. 1920 and 1971.

Every now and again, something appears that will have once been a part of the W. B. and George Yeats library. Ronald Schuchard ran across the listing of item "[58]" in a Maggs Bros. Ltd. sale catalogue (Cat. 1122), about a copy of The Pre-Raphaelite Movement (London: Reeves & Turner; Birmingham: William Downing, 1889) by [W.] Kineton Parkes. As a presentation copy to Yeats, the book drew this comment from the auctioner: "Books from Yeats' library are rarely seen on the market and the bulk is believed to remain with his family." (I do not have a date on the catalogue.) Acquisitions at Emory University and elsewhere have occurred through the Yeats family over the years. The annotated copy of Responsibilities (Cuala Press, 1914) studied in a recent issue of The South Carolina Review is an instance (see Shelley Sharp Dirst on revisions to The Hour-Glass and Yeats's jottings on the dance sequence of At the Hawk's Well, posted online at SCR's "Ireland in the Arts and Humanities" themed site. And even more to the point, in 1993, I reported in a special issue of Yeats Annual, called Yeats and Women (No. 9, ed. Deirdre Toomey), the addition of 31 books to the Yeats Collection at the University of Kansas (Spencer Library) obtained in one of two major purchases from P. S. O'Hegarty. These books, of course, have not been listed here, but they include, among others, 9 by Yeats, 2 more by Mead, and an exceedingly rare copy of the Edwin Ellis/W. B. Yeats edition of Blake's Works carrying (in volume 1) a letter of inscription from Yeats to Maud Gonne and notations by O'Hegarty on marginalia in the hand of Ellis. How O'Hegarty, the father of Graínne Yeats, came into possession of these books was explained in detail in an article that James Helyar and I published in 1993.6 A book collector by avocation, O'Hegarty was practically a neighbor of the Yeatses when they lived in Rathfarnam. Books, for instance, that J. B. Yeats had decorated with drawings also came into O'Hegarty's possession by keeping "alert to rummaging through the stock of used books at Hodges Figgis and Greene's precisely when Mrs Yeats set about weeding the libraries of her sisters-in-law, and her own, in 1940 and 1949." The NLI has issued separate lists regarding YL "Numbered" and "Unnumbered" inserts and books listed in YL "but not received with the Yeats Library." Most of the books in List 1 were clean duplicate copies—certainly in the case of the 70 or so by W. B. Yeats—or of interest to the family, it seems (e.g., YL 2313, Susan Mary Yeats's The Order of the Burial of the Dead [London, nd], and essays by J. B. Yeats and obituaries, all duplicates [YL 704a, 705a, 706a, 707a, 708c]; but the missing inserts, unless photocopied by Parisious and therefore backed up in NLI 40,568-40,597, are unfortunately lost). The NLI Appendices, as well as the entire online conspectus pieced around the out-of-print YL, are linked as aids to The Short-title Catalog.

In sum, information from several parts of the National Library of Ireland's online database on the Yeats Library has been sorted and incorporated, where appropriate, in The Short-title Catalog, including my own observations about lost and found items. I believe I have taken up generally, in this Preface, all materials in the NLI database, except for "Correspondence" and for "Post 1941 publications received as part of the Yeats Library," which are outside the objective of the catalog but interesting to view as a testament to the industry of Yeats scholarship and criticism over a sixty-year period. In his "Editorial Miscellany" for Yeats Annual No. 4 (1986), Warwick Gould made one lengthy correction to a conjectural reading of George Yeats's inscription in YL 1649, as a "modest contribution to the sort of work Professor O'Shea's standard work will now inaugurate" (269). My own response has been more frequent and more extensive, but I hope no less polite. Professors O'Malley and O'Shea and their assistants Mary Jo O'Shea and Professor Christina Hunt Mahony and others who came before I began work in the Yeats Library in Dalkey, twenty years ago, have provided a valuable service by outlining generally the intellectual habitat of a great writer. More needs to be done, and the technology is at hand—to bring this work to completion in a book of annotations that will describe only the reading notes, significant inscriptions, drafts of poems, and copy text volumes in the library without having to make an account of the library as a whole. I must thank Catherine Fahy (NLI Keeper—Special Programmes) for recently locating scores of Cuala Press volumes that are herein linked as a supplement to the Short-title Catalog. Similarly, I'd be pleased to hear from anyone with information on books that may have a W. B. Yeats provenance—especially marked copies—and subsequently were dispersed by booksellers, auctioners, or private parties to libraries and collections accessible to scholars. A link to my university email address (thus: cwayne@clemson.edu) is one of the auxiliary features of this electronic publication.

Finally, I am grateful to Clemson University for enabling this online monograph with a sabbatical from teaching during spring semester 2006, and to my family and colleagues of the English Department and in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, which houses and supports the Center for Electronic and Digital Publishing, which I direct. This book is also indebted to several online resources that were helpful in verifying titles and publication data. Chief among them are COPAC (a free service providing access to the combined online catalogs of 24 major British and Irish university libraries, including the British Library and that of Trinity College, Dublin) and WorldCat (which provides subscription-based access, through Clemson University Libraries, to the combined catalogs of thousands of libraries from all over the world). Google and Project Gutenberg also proved useful on occasion. As ever, thanks, too, to the dedicated staff of the National Library of Ireland.

Wayne K. Chapman
Dublin, June 2006

Notes to the Preface

1. On Anne Yeats's shelf order and the subject arrangement, see Wayne K. Chapman, "W. B. and George Yeats: The Writing, Editing, and Dating of Yeats's Poems of the Mid-1920s and 1930s with a Chronology of the Composition of the Poems," Yeats's Collaborations: Yeats Annual No. 15: A Special Number, ed. Wayne K. Chapman and Warwick Gould (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), note 12.

2. Yeats Annual No. 8, ed. Warwick Gould (London: Macmillan Press, 1991): 199-202 and Plate 5.

3. See Wayne K. Chapman, "A Descriptive Catalog of W. B. Yeats's Library: Notes Supplementary," Yeats Annual No. 6, ed. Warwick Gould (London: Macmillan Press, 1988): 237.

4. The card file was probably made for the same reason inventories of manuscripts were made for steel "Drawer II of file" and "Drawer No. III of file," which were locked in a room "the key to be left with Mr Keller during the absence of Mr W. B. Yeats abroad." Yeats lectured in America and took his wife in 1920 and 1932. Mr Keller was their solicitor. See the article cited in note 1 above.

5. Edward O'Shea, "The 1920s Catalogue of W. B. Yeats's Library," Yeats Annual No. 4 (1986): 279-290. O'Shea notes that the card file "(excluding some of Mrs Yeats's books)" reflects the state of the Yeats library "as it existed in the year 1920 or shortly thereafter."

6. Wayne K. Chapman and James Helyar, "P. S. O'Hegarty and the Yeats Collection at the University of Kansas," Yeats Annual No. 10, ed. Warwick Gould (London: Macmillan Press, 1993): 221-238. This account is recommended as its authority derives from members of the Yeats and O'Hegarty families, who were interviewed and who generously contributed images featured in the illustrative plates accompanying the article.

List of Supplemental Works, Cited in the Catalog as "Chapman, YA…"
(followed by corresponding issue number, date, and pages)

Chapman, Wayne K. "Authors in Eternity: Some Sources for W. B. Yeats's Creative Mysticism." Yeats's Collaborations: Yeats Annual No. 15: A Special Number. Eds. Wayne K. Chapman and Warwick Gould. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. 288-312.

---. "A Descriptive Catalog of W. B. Yeats's Library: Notes Supplementary." Yeats Annual No. 6. Ed. Warwick Gould. London: Macmillan Press, 1988. 234-245.

---. "George Yeats, The Countess Cathleen and P. S. O'Hegarty: Notes from the Libraries." Yeats and Women: Yeats Annual No. 9. Ed. Deirdre Toomey. London: Macmillan Press, 1992. 271-294.

---. "Notes on the Yeats Library, 1904 and 1989." Yeats Annual No. 8. Ed. Warwick Gould. London: Macmillan Press, 1991. 199-202 + plate 5.

Other Abbreviations

Bp = Bookplate(s)
GY = George Yeats (Mrs W. B. Yeats)
NLI = National Library of Ireland; also the NLI's MS. 3001+ series denoting materials not in YL
Wade = Allan Wade, A Bibliography of the Writings of W. B. Yeats, 3rd ed., rev. Russell K. Alspach (London, 1968)
WBY = W. B. Yeats
YA = Yeats Annual
YL = Edward O'Shea, A Descriptive Catalog of the W. B. Yeats Library (New York, 1985)

 


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