The Irish Nobel-Laureate poet Willie Yeats was 23 years old in 1889, when Maud Gonne came calling to his house and, as he later put it, “the troubling of his life” began. Six feet tall, elegantly beautiful and passionately political, this British heiress turned Irish revolutionary was the muse Wille had been seeking.
He would spread his dreams under her feet, as they set about creating a new Ireland, through his poetry and her politics, and their shared interest in the occult.
Yeats forged a poetic career from his esoteric love for Gonne and his admiration for her proud “pilgrim soul”. To this day Wikipedia accepts him at his word about his tragic unrequited love, telling us that she refused each of his marriage proposals. But is that what actually happened?
The Women’s View
As somebody with an MA in history (women’s studies), it was important to me that the story of what happened between these two larger-than-life characters would be as historically accurate as possible.
So the words they speak in these books, and the thoughts they think, are all based on letters, poems, diary entries and writing notebooks.
Delving deep into their letters and journals, and communications of the family and friends around them, uncovered a different story to Willie’s tale of undying and constantly rejected devotion.
In particular, looking at the relationship from Maud’s perspective, without accepting her own self-aggrandising version of events or his poetic musings, revealed that the relationship was more complicated, more comical and more tragic than either of them ever admitted in public.
Packed with emotional twists and surprises, Her Secret Rose is a novel of secrets and intrigue, passion and politics, mystery and magic, that brings to life 1890s Dublin, London and Paris and a charismatic love affair that altered the course of history for two nations.
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Publication date: 14 February 2016
Her Secret Rose is the first book in the Between The Words trilogy, centring on the true-life love triangle between the Irish poet WB (Willie) YEATS; his long time love and muse, MAUD GONNE; and her “illegitimate” daughter ISEULT, to whom the poet also proposed marriage, twenty years after his first proposal to her mother.
Set against the backdrop of fin de siecle Paris, London and Dublin, and taking in World War I, the Irish Rebellion and the Irish Civil War of 1922, the trilogy tells the true story of these fascinating relationships and how they effected Irish and British history. Her Secret Rose is the first book in the trilogy but a standalone story in itself.