George William Russell

George William Russell

George William Russell (April 10, 1867 – July 17, 1935) who wrote under the pseudonym Æ (sometimes written AE or A.E.), was an Irish Nationalist, critic, poet, and painter. He was also a mystical writer, and centre of a group of followers of theosophy in Dublin, for many years. He is not to be confused with George William Erskine Russell (1853 - 1919). He also has two great-great-grandsons named Connor Russell and William Russell.


Russell was born in Lurgan, County Armagh. His family moved to Dublin when he was eleven. He started working as a draper. He worked many years for the Irish Agricultural Organization Society (IAOS), an agricultural co-operative movement founded by Horace Plunkett in 1894. The two came together in 1897 when the co-operative movement was eight years old. Plunkett needed an able organiser and W. B. Yeats suggested Russell, who became Assistant Secretary of the IAOS. He was an able lieutenant and travelled extensively throughout Ireland as a spokesman for the society, mainly responsible for developing the credit societies and establishing co-operative banks in the south and west of the country whose numbers rose to 234 by 1910. The pair made a good team each gaining much from the association with the other. ["AE and Sir Horace Plunkett" J.J.Byrne ("The Shaping of Modern Ireland" (1960) Conor-Cruise O'Brien) pp. 152-157]

Russell was editor from 1905-1923 of "The Irish Homestead", the journal of the IAOS, and infused it with vitality that made it famous half the world over. He was also editor of the "The Irish Statesman" from September 15 1923 until April 12 1930. He used the pseudonym "AE", or more properly, "Æ". This derived from an earlier "Æ'on" signifying the lifelong quest of man, subsequently shortened.

Belonging to the what was known as the Irish Literary Revival, Æ met the young James Joyce in 1902, and introduced him to other Irish literary figures, including William Butler Yeats, to whom he was close. He appears as a character in the "Scylla and Charybdis" episode of Joyce's "Ulysses", where he dismisses Stephen's theories on Shakespeare.

Æ claimed to be a clairvoyant, able to view various kinds of spiritual beings, which he illustrated in paintings and drawings.



*"Homeward Songs by the Way" (Dublin: Whaley 1894)
*"The Earth Breath and Other Poems" (NY&London: John Lane 1896)
*"The Nuts of Knowledge" (Dublin: Dun Emer Press 1903)
*"The Divine Vision and Other Poems" (London: Macmillan; NY: Macmillan 1904)
*"By Still Waters" (Dublin: Dun Emer Press 1906)
*"Deirdre" (Dublin: Maunsel 1907)
*"Collected Poems" (London: Macmillan 1913)
*"Gods of War, with Other Poems" (Dub, priv. 1915)
*"Imaginations and Reveries" (Dub&London: Maunsel 1915)
*"The Candle of Vision" (London: Macmillan 1918)
*"Autobiography of a Mystic" (Gerrards Cross, 1975), 175pp.;
*"Midsummer Eve" (NY: Crosby Gaige 1928)
*"Enchantment and Other Poems" (NY: Fountain; London: Macmillan 1930);
*"Vale and Other Poems" (London: Macmillan 1931)
*"Songs and Its Fountains" (London: Macmillan 1932)
*"The House of Titans and Other Poems" (London: Macmillan 1934)
*"Selected Poems" (London: Macmillan 1935).


* Nicholas Allen: "George Russel (AE) and the New Ireland 1905-30", Four Courts Press Dublin (2004) ISBN 1-85182-691-2

External links

* [ Brief biography]
* [ Chronology of Russell's life]
* [ "The Candle of Vision" (1918)]
* [ "Collected Poems by Æ" (1913)]
* [ Russell at the Online Books Page (University of Pennsylvania)]
* [ Works by George William Russell] at [ Project Gutenberg Australia]

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