Aldritt, Keith. W. B. Yeats: The Man and the Milieu. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1997. Discusses Yeats’s life and times.
Bloom, Harold. Yeats. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970. An influential work by a leading contemporary critic. The emphasis is on Yeats’s Romanticism. The poet is seen as the English Romantic poetry’s heir. The prosodic, aesthetic, and imaginative implications of the inheritance are the subject of much intense and sophisticated discussion.
Bornstein, George. Material Modernism: The Politics of the Page. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. A study of Modernism in Ireland, England, and the United States, focusing on Yeats and James Joyce. Bibliography and index.
Brown, Terence. The Life of W. B. Yeats: A Critical Biography. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1999. Brown’s book is very much a critical biography, attending more to Yeats’s art than to his life, with relatively little frolicking around in the poet’s boudoir. Still, Brown conveys the texture of Yeats’s life, selecting just the right details from what is now a copious historical record.
Chaudhry, Yug Mohit. Yeats, the Irish Literary Revival and the Politics of Print. Cork, Ireland: Cork University Press, 2001. A study of Yeats’s political and social views as well as a critique of his writings. Bibliography and index.
Donoghue, Denis. Yeats. London: Fontana, 1971. A good brief survey of the subject. Yeats’s life, works, and thoughts are clearly presented in their many complex interrelations. The study’s unifying argument is the author’s conception of Yeats’s understanding of, and identification with, power. Contains chronology and bibliography.
Ellmann, Richard. W. B. Yeats: The Man and the Masks. New York: Macmillan, 1948. The first biography to avail itself of unrestricted access to Yeats’s posthumous papers. The poet’s doctrine of the mask is adopted as a biographical trope. Life and work are perceived as being mutually reinforcing. In many ways, the most satisfactory biographical treatment of Yeats.
Fleming, Deborah. “A Man Who Does not Exist”: The Irish Peasant in the Work of W. B. Yeats and J. M. Synge. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995. Discusses Yeats’s transforming Irish folklore into art and thus helping establish a new sense of cultural identity in Ireland. Examines Yeats as a postcolonial writer and his belief that peasant culture was a repository of ancient wisdom.
Foster, R. F. W. B. Yeats: A Life. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997-2003. An excellent guide to Yeats and his work.
Holdridge, Jefferson. Those Mingled Seas: The Poetry of W. B. Yeats, The Beautiful and the Sublime. Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2000. A study of Yeats’s poetry that suspends it between the philosophies of both Kant and Burke, focusing on the source of the power of Yeats’s mysticism.
Howes, Marjorie, and John Kelly, eds. The Cambridge Companion to W. B. Yeats. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Yeats scholars from the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland contribute eleven essays to this work, illuminating the personal and political events in Yeats’ life. Howes and Kelly chronicle his early interests in theater, politics, and the occult, along with the portrayal of these topics in his writing. The essays take a look at Yeat’s shifting interests and how these shifts emerge in his poetry. This work includes a detailed time line of Yeat’s life and writing, along with a bibliography and index.
Jeffares, A. N. A New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats. London: Macmillan, 1984. This commentary was published in order to be in alignment with the 1983 edition of Yeats’s poems. Otherwise the approach is the same as in the previous edition. The contents of Yeats’s The Collected Poems are comprehensively annotated. Dates of composition are supplied, difficult allusions clarified, links to other works by Yeats made. An indispensable students’ guide.
Jeffares, A. Norman. W. B. Yeats: A New Biography. New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1989. A definitive biography of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats.
Larrissy, Edward. W. B. Yeats. Plymouth, England: Northcote House in association with the British Council, 1998. A basic biography of Yeats that examines both his life and works. Bibliography and index.
McCormack, W. J. Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History from 1789 to 1939. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1985. A study that lives up to the broad range of its title. Contains a crucial culminating section on Yeats, conceived of as poet and playwright, and more importantly, as ideologue. Essential for an appreciation of Yeats in his Irish context. An important example of the realignment of Yeats’s achievement and significance.
Maddox, Brenda. Yeats’s Ghosts: The Secret Life of W. B. Yeats. New York: HarperCollins, 1999. Maddox examines Yeats’s connection to spiritualism and the occult. Bibliography and index.
Murphy, William M. Family Secrets: William Butler Yeats and His Family. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1995.
Raine, Kathleen. W. B. Yeats and the Learning of the Imagination. Ipswich, Mass.: Golgonooza Press, 1999. Raine argues that by his “learning of the Imagination” Yeats was not only a great poet but also a great imaginative mind. His work marks a cultural watershed; whereas English poetry up to and including T. S. Eliot drew upon European civilisation, Yeats additionally drew upon world culture: Irish mythology, Arabic, Japanese, Indian wisdom, and much besides.
Richman, David. Passionate Action: Yeats’s Mastery of Drama. Newark, N.J.: University of Delaware Press, 2000. Richman examines the dramatic works of Yeats and discusses Irish literature. Bibliography and index.
Torchiana, Donald. Yeats and Georgian Ireland. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1966. One of the major ways in which Yeats derived myth from history was through his reading of the works of major Irish writers of the eighteenth century. This study analyzes Yeats’s knowledge of Jonathan Swift, Bishop George Berkeley, Oliver Goldsmith, and Edmund Burke. The influence of these thinkers on Yeats’s poetry and prose is then assessed. An illuminating study of the impact of the Irish context particularly on the poet’s later work.
Tratner, Michael. Modernism and Mass Politics: Joyce, Woolf, Eliot, Yeats. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995. Discusses the political context of Yeats’s modernism. Reviews Yeats’s poetics of violence. Although the chapter on Yeats is primarily concerned with his poetry, it is helpful for an understanding of Yeats’s literary efforts to create a national mind.
Vendler, Helen. Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007. A guide to Yeats’ poetry that focuses exclusively on his use of form and the ways in which meaning is derived from it. Useful to scholars and students of poetry.
White, Anna MacBride and A. N. Jeffares, eds. The Gonne-Yeats Letters, 1893-1938. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992.