William Butler Yeats (pronounced "Yates") (13 June 1865 - 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet, dramatist, mystic and public figure. Yeats was one of the driving forces behind the Irish Literary Revival and was co-founder of the Abbey Theatre. Yeats also served as an Irish Senator.
When Yeats was young, his family moved first from Sandymount, County Dublin, to County Sligo, and then to London to enable his father John to further his career as an artist. At first, the Yeats children were educated at home. Their mother, who was homesick for Sligo, entertained them with stories and folktales from her native county.
In 1877, William entered the Godolphin school, which he attended for four years. He did not distinguish himself academically. For financial reasons, the family returned to Dublin towards the end of 1880, living at first in the city centre and later in the suburb of Howth.
In October, 1881, Yeats resumed his education at the Erasmus Smith High School in Dublin. His father's studio was located nearby and he spent a great deal of time there, meeting many of the city's artists and writers. He remained at the high school until December 1883.
It was during this period that he started writing poetry and in 1885, Yeats' first poems, as well as an essay called "The Poetry of Sir Samuel Ferguson", were published in the Dublin University Review. From 1884 to 1886, he attended the Metropolitan School of Art (now the National College of Art and Design) in Kildare Street.
His early work tended towards romantic lushness best described by the title of his 1893 collection The Celtic Twilight, but in his 40s, inspired by his relationships with modernist poets such as Ezra Pound and his involvement in Irish nationalist politics, he moved towards a harder, more modern style.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923 for what the Nobel Committee described as "his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation".