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Jack Butler Yeats correspondence

Identifier: MSS 0150

Scope and Content Note

The Jack Butler Yeats Correspondence is a collection of 51 letters from Yeats to Kilham Robarts and other members of the Society of Authors, with some copies of letters he had written to MacMillan & Co. and their responses to Yeats. Most of the copies are handwritten by Yeats. The letters and copies span the dates from 1934 to 1955.

Yeats' letters report his disputes with publishers over the American rights to Padraic Colum's The Big Tree of Bunlahy, for which Yeats provided the illustrations. The letters also discuss his own literary works, including The Amaranthers, The Charmed Life, and The Careless Flower; and the terms for the illustrations for the sequel to Patricia Lynch's The Turf Cutter's Donkey.

Also included in the correspondence as enclosures are copies of a "Memorandum of Agreement" between Jack B. Yeats and MacMillan & Co. and a copy of an "understanding" between the Society of Authors and MacMillan.


  • Creation: 1934-1955


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Restrictions on Access

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S.Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

Irish painter and illustrator, Jack B. Yeats, was born August 29, 1871, in London, England. He was the son of John Butler Yeats, a successful portrait painter, and younger brother of the distinguished Irish poet, William Butler Yeats.

In 1888 he attended the Westminster School of Art and later developed a career as a successful illustrator. His work appeared in such publications as Boy's Own Paper, Judy, and Vegetarian. He also illustrated a large number of broadsheets, many of which were published by Cuala Press, a small enterprise run by his sisters Elizabeth and Lily Yeats. In 1912 Yeats' drawings and paintings of Life in the West of Irelandwere published by Maunsel.

Until about 1910 Yeats worked mainly as an illustrator and with watercolors; then he began to focus on oil painting. In 1913 five of Yeats' oil paintings were shown in the famous Armory exhibition in New York City. Following this showing Yeats concentrated on oil paintings depicting the life and landscapes of Ireland, as well as scenes of Celtic myths. His paintings contributed to the upsurge of nationalist feeling in the arts that followed the winning of Irish independence.

As a writer Jack B. Yeats contributed for many years to the British magazine, Punch, under the pseudonym, "W. Bird." Books written and illustrated by Yeats include: A Little Fleet(1909), Sligo(1930), The Amaranthers(1936), and La la Noo(1943).

Chilvers, Ian and Harold Osborne (eds.). The Oxford Dictionary of Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. p.545. Drabble, Margaret (ed.). The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Fifth edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985. p.1093.Palmer, Helen M. and E.T. Williams (eds.). The Dictionary of National Biography, 1951-1960. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971. pp.1087-1088.


61 item (1 box)


The Jack Butler Yeats Correspondence is a collection of fifty-one letters from the Irish painter and illustrator to Kilham Robarts and other members of the Society of Authors, with some copies of letters he had written to MacMillan & Co. and their responses to Yeats.


The letters are arranged in chronological order in eight folders.


Purchase, March 1984.

Related Materials in This Repository

MSS 0099, F0292 Jack B. Yeats letter to Lady Gregory (1930 June 16)

MSS 0099, F0348 Jack B. Yeats letters and notes to Elkin Matthews (1906-1920)

MSS 0153 Cuala Press records - Consists of a letter (1907) from Yeats to Mr. Mathews, bookplates autographed by Yeats, hand-colored cards and broadsides illustrated by Jack Yeats.

MSS 0212 Lennox Robinson papers - Autograph letter signed from Jack Yeats to Robinson (1930 September 8), transcripts of eight letters (1905-1919) from Yeats to John Quinn, and an introduction to the Jack Yeats chapter of the anthology being written by Robinson.

Shelving Summary

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Processing & Encoding

Processed by Anita A. Wellner, August 1992.

Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, 2006.

Finding aid for Jack Butler Yeats correspondence
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2006 June 9
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA