William Butler Yeats



Frederick Hollyer


William Butler Yeats


Photograph, platinotype,




This photograph of W. B. Yeats by Frederick Hollyer (1838–1933) emphasized his beauty and artistic dress—the Aesthete’s uniform of floppy tie and velvet jacket—making him the very picture of a Poet (capital “P”). Hollyer’s 1893 portrait of Beardsley showed a more capricious, harder-to-read figure, staring enigmatically at the viewer with enormous eyes beneath unfashionably bowl-cut, center-parted bangs. Although Yeats and Beardsley interacted frequently, as Yeats contributed to both The Yellow Book and The Savoy, which Beardsley designed and for which he selected the artworks to be reproduced, they were never close. In the years after Beardsley’s death in 1898, however, Yeats became intimately acquainted with Beardsley’s sister Mabel through their mutual work in the theatre. As she succumbed to cancer in 1916, he wrote “Upon a Dying Lady,” immortalizing Mabel’s “lovely piteous head” and “dull red hair.”


From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press