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W. B. Yeats to Elizabeth A. Sharp

W. B. Yeats letter to Elizabeth A. Sharp, autograph letter signed, January 6, [1906].

This unpublished letter of condolence from Yeats to recently widowed Elizabeth Sharp is an important reflection on Sharp’s relationship with Yeats. Despite the fact that Yeats had been deceived by Sharp prior to 1897 about the authorship of the Fiona Macleod writings and was never told the full truth about Edith Rinder, Yeats retained his respect for Sharp as a man, artist, and powerful mystic:

“....Your husband was a man of great genius, who brought something wholly new into letters....To me he was that, & a strange mystery too & also a dear friend. To talk with him was to feel the presence of that mystery, he was very near always to the world where he now is & often seemed to me to deliver its messages. He often spoke to me of things of my personal life that were unknown to him by the common channels of sense...”

The respect Yeats retained for Sharp is an affirmation of Sharp’s imaginative powers and a testament to the two men’s shared commitment to Celticism, mysticism and to the existence of a world of spirit which informs human life and to which human spirits retire after death.