NLI to celebrate WB Yeats’ birthday by highlighting his connections with Joyce

9 June 2022
Joseph Hassett addressing an audience standing at a podium inside the NLI's Reading Room

Professor John McCourt and Joseph Hassett


The National Library of Ireland will celebrate the birthday of WB Yeats with a lecture focusing on his relationship with James Joyce. The annual Joseph Hassett Yeats Lecture will take place on, Saturday, 11th June at 6pm, and is entitled WB Yeats: A Portrait of the Poet as a Joyce Critic.  It will be livestreamed from the NLI’s Reading Room.

The lecture will be delivered by Joycean scholar and Professor of English at the University of Macerata, Professor John McCourt.

Each year, with the generous support of lawyer, literary scholar and philanthropist Joseph Hassett, the National Library offers a keynote lecture marking the birth of WB Yeats on 13th June 1865. The lecture is inspired by the National Library’s long-running exhibition The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats, which showcases the largest collection of Yeats material in the world. 

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s lecture, Acting Director of the NLI, Katherine McSharry said: “In this centenary year of Ulysses, we bring together two of Ireland’s most eminent writers. They share an extraordinary global reach and both have a strong connection with the National Library of Ireland. Indeed, the first meeting between WB Yeats and James Joyce is said to have taken place outside the National Library, where they were both regular readers. 

“It is our privilege at the National Library of Ireland to have remarkable Yeats and Joyce collections, including a fascinating series of letters chronicling the literary friendship between the two over 20 years. The letters are all digitised and freely available to view online. The collection includes a letter from Joyce offering to sign Yeats’ first edition of Ulysses.

“Professor John McCourt brings the two writers together once again in the National Library’s reading room, through the 2022 Joseph Hassett lecture. And, in honour of this special year, the Library will open its Reading Room on the evening of Bloomsday, Thursday 16 June, to allow members of the public experience the surroundings which inspired both Yeats and Joyce.”

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