Ella Young


Ella Young (1867 – 1956) was an Irish poet, political activist, and mystic. Born in County Antrim, she grew up in Dublin and attended the Royal University. Her interest in Theosophy led her to become an early member of the Hermetic Society, and her acquaintance with "Æ" (George William Russell) led to her becoming one of his select group of protegés, known as the "singing birds." Her nationalist sentiments also led her to a friendship with Patrick Pearse, and she had a supporting role in the Easter Rising; as a member of Cumann na mBan, she smuggled rifles and other supplies in support of Republican forces.

Young's first volume of verse, titled simply Poems, was published in 1906. She became friends with Yeats's erstwhile flame Maud Gonne, and Gonne illustrated Young's first book of stories, Celtic Wonder Tales (1910). Although she continued to write poetry, it was for her redactions of traditional Irish legends that she became best known; among her later books were The Wonder Smith, The Tangle-Coated Horse, and The Unicorn with Silver Shoes.

Later in life, Young emigrated to the United States, where for ten years she was a Lecturer in Celtic Mythology at the University of California, Berkeley. After this position ended, she spent some years at a Theosophical colony known as Halcyon, near San Luis Obispo, where her eclectic circle of friends included Ansel Adams, who made a rare portrait of her. Her later writings grew increasingly mystical, and she found particular affinity in the California Redwoods. On her death in 1956, she left the bulk of her estate to the Save-the-Redwoods League.

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