Library acquires first edition of W.B. Yeats’ The Tower

William Butler Yeats The Tower With support from the Central New York Irish Cultural Society (CNY-ICS) and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Library has purchased an American first edition copy of W. B. Yeats’ 1928 work, The Tower.

“Sailing to Byzantium,” “Leda and the Swan,” and “Among School Children” are today considered some of the best and most famous in the Yeats canon. Virginia Woolf, in her unsigned review in the April 21, 1928 issue of The Nation and Anthenaeum, wrote, “Mr. Yeats has never written more exactly and more passionately.” Yeats was not so sure. Later editions contain numerous edits by the poet, making the first edition, as is true in all literature, so important.

Written between 1912 and 1927, the poems in The Tower are evocative of the image of Thoor Ballylee, the 15th century Norman building in Galway purchased by Yeats in 1917. This structure dons the iconic book cover that was designed by Thomas Sturge Moore, poet and play write and collaborator of Yeats in the Literary Theatre Club.

This acquisition and the display in the Library of other rare Yeats editions are part of Yeats2015, the worldwide celebration of the Irish writer’s 150th birthday.

This work is held in the Irish Literature Collection within the Library’s Tatyana Popovic Special Collections & Archives.