Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (1852 –1932)
Along with Yeats and John Milington Synge, Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory was the most pivotal figure in the Irish Renaissance. Born in County Galway, she married her husband, Sir William Henry Gregory, a former Governor of Ceylon and M.P., at the age of 28 (he was 35 years her senior). At the couple’s London home, they hosted a weekly salon which was frequented by many of the leading literary and artistic figures of the day, including Robert Browning, Lord Tennyson, John Everett Millais, and Henry James. A trip to Inisheer, the Aran Islands, inspired an interest in the Irish language and folklore, and her volumes on the latter subject are still the standard. In 1904, with the founding of the Abbey Theatre, Gregory’s attention turned to drama, serving as a managing director while also writing plays for the nascent company. Her friendship with Yeats inspired many of his best known poems including the volume The Wild Swans at Coole, named after her estate, Coole Park in Co. Galway, which contains the poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,” written in tribute to her only son, Robert, who died in WWI. While her plays are now rarely staged, her diaries and journals continue to provide vital insight into early 20th century Irish literary history.
"I feel more and more the time wasted that is not spent in Ireland."
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