Batting order

GregoryOne of the great miscues must be wikipedia’s entry (see right).

The whole entry is 275 words of text. More than an arithmetical half is about Gregory as a sportsman, and particularly as a cricketer.

2291Meanwhile, I picked up Colm Tóibín’s monograph,  Lady Gregory’s Toothbrush.

It’s not a treatise on dental care: the title is from a letter Lady Augusta Gregory wrote to W.B.Yeats, after the Abbey Theatre performed Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World, which provoked riots:

“It is the old battle, between those who use a toothbrush and those who don’t.”

Being Tóibín, what we get is a beautifully-expressed and concise study of Lady Gregory and her background, of life at Coole Park, of the relationship with Yeats, and how the Robert Gregory poems were conceived.

Tóibín’s account of Robert Gregory differs considerably from the W.B.Yeats “authorised version”.

Yeats’s appreciation of Robert Gregory was not reciprocated (page 83):

Between her husband’s death in1892 and Robert’s coming of age ten years later, Lady Gregory worked to clear the debts on the estate. From 1902, Robert was the owner of the house and the estate, although she had a right, according to Sir William’s will, to live in the house for her lifetime. There was an intermittent conflict between Robert’s interest in being master in his own house, seated at the top of his own table, and his mother’s interest in having Yeats at the head of the table, offering him the master bedroom and devoting her household to the cause of the poet’s comfort.

Things got worse:

In her biography of Lady Gregory, Mary Lou Kohfeldt wrote that “Robert Gregory was startled one evening when he called for a bottle of an especially fine vintage Torquey laid down by his father to find it was all gone, served bottle by bottle by his mother to Willie over the years.” 

 Then there is the poem, Reprisals, written in November 1920, suppressed at Lady Gregory’s wish (if only on poetic merit, rightly so), and published only in 1994 — that itself a 1923 revision: read it here.


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Filed under Ireland, WB Yeats

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