"He has chosen death: Refusing to eat or drink, that he may bring Disgrace upon me; for there is a custom, An old and foolish custom, that if a man Be wronged, or think that he is wronged, and starve Upon another's threshold till he die, The common people, for all time to come, Will raise a heavy cry against that threshold, Even though it be the King's."-from The King's ThresholdThe King's Threshold was first performed in Dublin by the Irish National Theatre Society in 1903 and first published in New York in 1904. The Cornell Yeats edition of this play about a bard's hunger strike includes the preliminary notes and first prose drafts dictated by Yeats to his patron and collaborator, Lady Gregory, in March and April 1903. As well as providing an outline of the play, these preliminary notes identify contemporary persons on whom some of the characters were based. Other features of this edition of The King's Threshold include Yeats's first blank verse drafts, heavily revised and corrected typescripts and galley proofs, and notes for the changes made between 1904 and 1906.
A major revision added a tragic ending to the version published in 1922, and this ending has remained in place ever since. Uniquely, this edition presents all four versions of the play, spanning thirty years of Yeats's efforts to perfect it. Declan Kiely presents the biographical and historical context of the play's genesis and Yeats's revisions, and gives accounts of several productions and revivals of the play. The Introduction also explores the relationship between theatrical production and textual revision.
Declan Kiely is Robert H. Taylor Curator and Department Head, Literary and Historical Manuscripts, at The Morgan Library and Museum. He is the editor of "The King's Threshold": Manuscript Materials and coeditor of "On Baile's Strand": Manuscript Materials, both in The Cornell Yeats.