National Library of Ireland Receives Donation of Yeats’s Nobel Prize Medal

The Nobel Prize in Literature.
The Nobel Prize in Literature.

By R. Bryan Willits, Editorial Assistant
June / July 2016

The National Library of Ireland has announced the receipt of the medal awarded to W.B. Yeats for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. The medal, valued at approximately $1.7 million, and the accompanying diploma were donated to the Library by the Yeats family and were received at a special event in April. Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 for his “always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.”

Commenting on the donation, Dr. Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library of Ireland, said, “We are honored to receive W.B. Yeats’s Nobel Prize medal and we are extremely grateful for the extraordinary generosity of generations of the Yeats family. The Library already holds the personal library and papers of W.B. Yeats and the donation of his Nobel Prize medal really completes the story of one of Ireland’s greatest poets here in the National Library.”

Granddaughter of W.B. Yeats, Catríona Yeats, said that the family was “delighted that the medal will be added to the Library’s Yeats Collection.”

Per Hallström, Chairman of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy at the time of Yeats’s award, praised Yeats’s ability to “follow the spirit that early appointed him the interpreter of his country,” while Yeats himself considered the prize less for himself than his country, calling it “Europe’s welcome to the Free State.” ♦

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