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Georgie Yates: The Medium Behind the Poet William Yeats


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GEORGIE YATES: Medium Behind the Poet

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Georgie Hyde-Lees was born in 1892 in Fleet, Hampshire, UK to Captain Gilbert and Edith Hyde-Lees.  When she was only a few years old her parents separated due to her father’s alcoholism. He had enough income to allow Georgie and her mother to spend time traveling in Europe. Georgie attended several schools, including London art schools, studied languages and classics, and learned piano. Her father died when she was 17, and when her mother married Henry Tucker they moved to Kensington. There she met well-known musicians and artists and learned of spiritualism.

She was eventually introduced to Poet William Yeats. He had an enduring interest in mysticism, spiritualism and astrology and followed the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. He was also a member of the paranormal research group, The Ghost Club. Yeats was Georgie’s sponsor when she joined the Order of the Golden Dawn, a Masonic type organization.

Yeats proposed to Georgie after proposals to two other women failed. They married three weeks later in 1917.  During the honeymoon, Georgie tried her hand at automatic writing. Over time, she contacted several spirit guides while in trance. The spirits conveyed a complex system of philosophy and history, bringing to Yates metaphors that he turned into his subsequent poetry.

During their first three years of marriage, they averaged three writing sessions a week, and Georgie wrote over 4,000 pages of material dictated by the spirits. She helped Yates write his poem “The Vision” and many others. That may be why Yates’ poetry became more succinct and powerful after they married. The TowerThe Winding Stair, and New Poems were said to contain some of the most compelling images in twentieth-century poetry.

During their marriage, they had two children. Yates began to spend more time abroad and Georgie looked after the children and his unmarried sisters. She tolerated his affairs and was a dutiful wife until he died in 1939. She even worked with Richard Ellmann when he wrote Yates’ biography. Georgie died on 23 August 1968.

Additional Reading:

Saddlemeyer, Ann. “George Hyde-Lees: More than a Poet’s Wife”. in Norman Jeffares Yeats the European. Barnes and Noble Books, 1989.

https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20191001-how-spiritualism-influenced-modern-art

Yeats https://daily.jstor.org/wb-yeats-live-in-spirit-medium/

KarenJuly 14, 2021Karen's Korner

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