CHAPTER IX
THE ABBEY THEATRE

Miss Horniman--Opening of the Abbey Theatre; Political and Other Disputes--Maud Gonne's Troubles-- Deirdre and the English Actress--Production of Deirdre

All things can tempt me from this craft of verse. . . .


1

ON YEATS' return from America Miss Horniman fulfilled her promise to provide the National Theatre Society with a small theatre to be at the Company's disposal. In a formal letter she explained that her gift was due to her great sympathy with Yeats' artistic and dramatic aims, as publicly explained by him on various occasions. "I can only afford", she wrote, "to make a very little theatre, and it must be quite simple, you all must do the rest to make a powerful and prosperous theatre with a high artistic ideal." Before the Theatre was opened, however, she already asked herself whether she had not made a mistake in befriending an Irish movement. There seems to have been no one in Dublin who pleased her, except Yeats himself, her "Demon",1 and it was evident that even he paid far more deference to Lady Gregory's views than to hers. The mischief commenced, perhaps, when her designs for the costumes in The King's Threshold failed to meet with appreciation.2 Henceforth

____________________
1
Her letters to him start "My dear Demon", his to her, "My dear Annie". His device in the Cabalistic Society was: Deus est diabolus inversus.
2
Lennox Robinson, after rummaging through the Abbey wardrobe, says they were "incredibly graceless and ugly".

-215-

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W. B. Yeats, 1865-1939
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