Friday 15 December 2017

Going, going, Gonne: written proof of Yeats's affair sells for e17,000

Grainne Cunningham

IT is proof of the entanglement of one of the most famous couples in Irish history in their own writing.

And it sold at auction yesterday for €17,000.

A visitors' book containing the signatures of both Maud Gonne McBride and WB Yeats, written one after the other, was sold to the National Library of Ireland.

The sale of the Cuala Press visitors' book was among a number of rare books and manuscripts auctioned by Mealy's at the Berkeley Court Hotel, Dublin 4, yesterday.

The Cuala Press visitors' book, which covers the years 1908 to 1928, holds some 1,900 signatures, among them the names of many of the glitterati of the period such as George Bernard Shaw, GK Chesterton, and Countess Markievicz.


But the most remarkable signatures are undoubtably those inscribed on October 18, 1908, because they signed together, Gonne with an address in Paris, followed immediately by that of Yeats.

Yeats was devastated by the marriage of Gonne to Sean McBride in 1903. However, after the marriage ended, they became friends again.

"For a brief period in the autumn of 1908, it appears they were lovers. But it did not last, and Yeats never played as large a part in Gonne's life as she did in his," noted the description by auctioneers Mealy's.

Other notable items sold included a rare copy of James Joyce's earliest published work 'The Holy Office' which was bought by an Irish-based Joycean collector for €22,000 on the hammer.

It had gone under the hammer with an initial guide of €10,000 to €15,000.

A complete set of letters between the author Flann O'Brien and his publishers for all his major works had been expected to fetch around €10,000 but was sold for €22,000.

Irish Independent

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