John Singer Sargent, Portrait of W. B. Yeats, 1908

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of W. B. Yeats, 1908. Pencil, 9 x 6 in. Private collection.

Love and Death by W.B. Yeats

The manuscript here transcribed represents an important addition to W.B. Yeats's canon, complementing those already transcribed in The Cornell Yeats volumes. The entire manuscript of Yeats's unpublished play, Love and Death, which he composed in 1884, totals five notebooks, some of which contain loose-leaf inserted papers. The play is significant for being the first written by Yeats. It has never before been published or performed. Yeats composed it in the same year that he began writing Mosada and The Island of Statues, his earliest published plays.  Love and Death is valuable, in part, for the light it sheds on the poet's other work from this period.

The content of all five notebooks has been scanned in full and the use of facsimiles made possible by the Burns Library at Boston College. The transcription includes a full draft of the play and Yeats's partial revisions. His corrections, cancellations and occasional spelling errors are included. The work presented here will be of interest to Yeats scholars, particularly those studying the poet's juvenilia, to scholars of Irish literature, and to a general public eager to read some of Yeats's earliest writing.


The transcription and contents of the website were prepared by Dathalinn M. O'Dea, Boston College, with the advice and scholarly guidance of Dr. Marjorie Howes.

Digitization and web design were completed by the University Libraries, Boston College.

The manuscript was acquired in 1993 by Boston College's John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections. The William Butler Yeats Collection, including the manuscript, is part of Library's Irish Collection. The acquisition was made possible by the late Senator Michael B. Yeats and his widow Mrs. Gráinne Yeats and by the generosity of Brian P. Burns.


View the original manuscript and transcription in the Libraries' digital repository.

Note:The manuscript and transcription are in the public domain. No copyright permissions are needed. Acknowledgement of the Boston College University Libraries as a source for borrowed images is requested.