1860-1937 [Annie Elizabeth Fredericka; Tabbie]; dg. and heir of wealthy tea-merchant and fndr. of the ethnological collection, later Horniman Museum at Forrest Hill, S. London; ed. Slade School; met W. B. Yeats through the Order of the Golden Dawn in London, being a member from 1890, thereafter acting as his secretary; patronised Mathers financially and found him employment as Curator at Museum, thereafter expelled by him; subsidised Irish National Theatre Society from 1903 using her revenue for Hudson Bay shares; purchased Mechanics Hall for Abbey in 1903, and promoted Abbey in England; underwrote provision of professional salaries from 1905; completed unsuccessful costume and stage designs for Yeatss plays; opposed nationalist policy of the board of directors and condemned Dublins wicked politics; split with Abbey following Lennox Robinsons failure to close in mourning at death of Edward VII, 1910; fnd. Miss Hornimans Company of Actors and the Manchester Repertory Co., acquiring the Gaiety Theatre there in 1908; oil portrait by John Butler Yeats, 1904 [NGI]. OCEL MAX ODNB OCTH OCIL FDA
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Adrian Frazier, Behind the Scenes, Yeats, Horniman and the Struggle for the Abbey Theatre (Berkeley: California UP 1990); Sheila Gooddie, Annie Horniman, A Pioneer of the Theatre (London: Methuen 1991).
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Padraic Colum, Life in a world of writers, in Des Hickey and Gus Smith, eds., A Paler Shade of Green (London: Leslie Frewin 1972): You must remember that the Abbey Theatre was given to Yeats by Elizabeth Horniman, but she had a wrong idea of Ireland altogether. She thought the Gaelic League would murder her. I remember the opening [...] with the production of Yeatss On Bailes Strand on 27th December 1904. The élite of Dubln was there, both nationalist and Unionist. But then came the withdrawal from the Abbey. (Colum, op. cit., p.16.)
Anthony J. Jordan, The Yeats Gonne MacBride Triangle (Westport 2000): [In 1905 Yeats] had been in Dublin for the opening of a new season of plays, in what he regarded as his theatre, the Abbey. The Abbey was featuring plays of the three Directors, Gregorys, Synges and Yeats. The most difficult of the Irish nationalists, including Maud Gonne, had been disposed of. Willie was embarked on theatre for arts sake. His patron, Miss Horniman, who hoped to create an Irish Bayreuth at the Abbey, was still infatuated with him and had hopes of capturing his hand in marriage. He was quite willing to play her along. while she provided the money and he could run the theatre his way. [... &c.] (p.64.) Further, [Yeats] involved his Mancunian patron, Miss Horniman, as a private investigator to check out the low shebeen house [i.e., the MacBride home in Westport], as Maud believed Michael Davitt had described it. Miss Horniman, who was of course still totally smitten with Willie, was only too happy to engage on any exercise that might raise her profile over Lady Gregorys, in Willies thoughts. She visited Westport, and not surprisingly, was unsuccessful in getting any useful information. Nevertheless, Maud asked Willie to thank her for her trouble. (Gonne-Yeats Letters, p.198-99.) Miss Horniman was to make a major tactical error much later, when in a fit of jealously, on a visit to the Abbey, she told Willic that, Mrs MacBride deserves what she got. It was indeed ironic and says much about Yeats fraught relationship with women, stemming from his early rejection by his mother, that though constantly pursued by Gregory and Horniman, whom he continually used mercilessly for his owm purposes, he persevered with a woman who rejected his overtures. (p.78.)
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Dictionary of National Biography: dg. of FJ Horniman; studied Slade School; sec. to WB Yeats; subsidised Abbey, 1904-10. AND NOTE ODNB Frederick John Horniman, 1835-1904, tea-merchant, founder of Hornimans Museum, which he built at Forest Hill, 1897, and presented to London County Council, 1901; Liberal MP for Falmouth and Penryn, 1895-1904.
Phillis Hartnoll, ed., Oxford Companion to the Theatre (Oxford: Clarendon 1988); dg. wealthy tea-merchant, recognised importance of theatre during European travels, esp. in Germany; made funds available at Avenue Theatre for repertory season including Arms and the Man, and The Land of Hearts Desire, the first play by Yeats seen in London; acted as Yeatss unpaid secretary, taking an interest in the Irish national Theatre, which led her to build [sic] the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1904; bought and refurbished the Gaiety in Manchester, putting on more than 200 plays, including St. John Ervines Jane Clegg, and plays of the Manchester School; most productions there directed by Lewis Casson; disbanded in 1917 as a financial failure; her pioneering work spread to the repertory theatre movement [q.v.]; left extensive library to British Drama League.
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Frank Tuohy, Yeats (1976), gives details of her involvement with the Golden Dawn; also her funding of the Abbey. Further, [Synges] The Playboy and its reception delighted her: How little I expected that my hopes to annoy the Gaelic League into action would be so violently fulfilled. Would they be very pleased to know that they did just what I wanted them to do? (Tuohy, p.130.)
Letter to An Island: Anne Horniman wrote to Yeats on withdrawing funding: every bitter thing I have said about Ireland has been put into my mind by my experiences among your
people. [Q. source.]
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