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This overview of W. B. Yeats’s writings for the theatre begins with his earliest juvenilia, the verse dramas published in the late 1880s, and moves through his best-known work with the Irish Literary Theatre (later the Abbey) in the early twentieth century through to his Nō plays and finally to his last plays, drawing on the techniques of genetic literary criticism to explore the drafts and multiple editions of these works. It also explores, for the first time, several of Yeats’s early unpublished plays in the context of his wider dramatic output.
Although Piero was criticised for his love of sports and footballing in the streets, sportsmanship – like cultural patronage – contributed to the soft power increasingly enjoyed by Renaissance rulers. Visits to the antiquities in the Medici palace and to the model farm at Poggio a Caiano formed part of diplomats’ tours of Florence, while the sports of horse racing and falconry provided invaluable items for gift exchanges with other rulers. So too did Piero’s famous Spanish runner Garzerano, who was regarded as a trophy (‘like some prince’, in the eyes of the royal court) when borrowed by Alfonso of Naples for his son.1 So if Piero’s sporting activities were unappreciated at home, they gave him more standing outside Florence than his critics may have realised.
This essay re-examines Wharton’s early career to suggest an emerging writer much more focused on and concerned with lives of hardship and lack of privilege than we have acknowledged. Archival research and attention to less familiar, at times unpublished early writing and genres, including her poetry and plays, illuminate anew a bold, compassionate and at times subversive writer. Wharton’s attacks on social inequality, injustice, and the complicity of her own class, are strong, powerful, and pervasive, her writing often in conflict with conventional ideologies of poverty and pauperism of the time. Deeply engaged in contemporary issues and inspired as much by newspaper reporting than by the more familiar classical allusions with which she is credited, what emerges, this essay suggests, is a radical creative vision running counter to ongoing popular images of Wharton and her work.