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May 6, 2015 12:30 PM ET

Archived: Secret Rose – A unique double-book tribute

iCrowdNewswire - May 6, 2015

Secret Rose

by Orna Ross

SECRET ROSE: A unique double-book tribute. WB Yeats’s short stories *The Secret Rose* & Orna Ross’s novel *Her Secret Rose* together, in a specially crafted replica of Yeats’s 1897 first edition.

Biography, Fiction, Historical Fiction, History, Literary Fiction, Poetry, Romance, Spirituality
Page Length:
250 – 500 Pages
Book Status:
Working Draft

This year, Yeats lovers everywhere are celebrating the 150-year birth anniversary of the Nobel-laureate Irish poet, who was born on 13 June 1865.

What better way to pay tribute to a writer than to produce a very special book of his work, especially an aspect of his work that has been neglected? And then issue it together with a novel that tells the real-life story-behind-his-stories? 

Three Reasons To Support This Crowdfunder

1) You’ll be reviving WB Yeats as a writer of fiction. These stories have been neglected and underestimated by the critics. In the introduction to the book, I explain why these dramatic stories of national and personal vision, that have the flavour of folklore. deserve to be resuscitated. (I believe they are as important to world literature as Grimm’s Fairy Tales). 

2)  You’ll be creating a very beautiful book  (see below). I intend to replicate the beautiful 1897 edition of Yeats, *The Secret Rose*, as designed by his friend, Althea Gyles: dark blue ribbed cloth cover; elaborate gilt on spine, front and back; printed in a special font on laid paper or equivalent; and the mystical symbols that make this edition of the book so iconic. In short, the sky-high production values that Yeats insisted on.

3) You’ll be supporting an indie author’s crazy passion project. Making a beautiful artefact like this is unbelievably expensive these days. The paper alone is hard to source and use in modern machinery. WB Yeats was an indie author himself, as we define it in ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors): that is, he took the greatest care with every aspect of the publication of his work.  In this, his 150th anniversary year, I want to pay homage to his writing and his values by producing this unique tribute. I can’t do it without your assistance.

Special Edition

This carefully crafted, limited edition book will bring two books together: Yeats’s short stories, *The Secret Rose* and my novel, *Her Secret Rose* (similarity of title no co-incidence!), side-by-side in one volume: SECRET ROSE. 


Secret Rose




Yeats’s book: The Secret Rose (1897)

WB YEATS was a magician as well a writer, a member of the secret society, The Golden Dawn. The stories in *The Secret Rose* revolve around men who must spend themselves in service to this rose, the symbol of mysticism, through love, battle, excess, patriotism or the search for transcendent wisdom. 

The linked stories stories provide a way to understand Yeats deepest personal beliefs, the strange things he did with his life, his relationship with Ireland and the occult. And the part allocated to his muse, Maud Gonne. 

My book: Her Secret Rose (2015)

I’ve spent years writing a trilogy about the true-life love triangle that was Yeats’s relationship with the Gonne women: Maud and Iseult, mother and daughter. Her Secret Rose (2015) is the first book of the three.

Yeats made a myth (and a poetic career) out of his unrequited love for Maud but this novel goes behind the poetic myth. As its opening page says, “When looked at from the woman’s side of the bedsheet, most tales take a turning. This one more than most.” 

“A delicate balance of fact and fiction which kept me riveted from beginning to end.” TheBookBag.co.uk

Packed with emotional twists and surprises, Her Secret Rose is closely based on the letters, journals and notebooks of these two fascinating people. It’s a novel of secrets and intrigue, passion and politics, mystery and magic and surprise — and tells the story of what was going on it Yeats’s life in the turbulent years leading up to the publication of his mystical stories.

“…Ross has ransacked (her word) the best scholarly sources for her facts and ingeniously knitted a complex tale of betrayal, revenge, suspense, murder mystery — and surprise.”
The Irish Independent


LAUNCH – 3rd AUGUST 2015, 5pm, Yeats House, Sligo

I’m honoured to be launching this book at the Yeats International Summer School. Join me, family, friends (and a special mystery guest) and receive a personal “Thank You” for your part in this project. 

LAUNCH DINNER – 3rd AUGUST 2015, 7.30pm, Broc House, Lough Gill

After the launch, we will get together in the home of Damien Brennan, President of The Yeats society, where he and his wife, Paula Gilvarry, one of Ireland’s leading chefs, will cook us one of her legendary dinners.  

Typically the evening begins with a series of tasty snacks as you sit near the log stove. Dinner is served at tables of ten and between courses, as you take time to digest, Damien brings you the life and poetry of William Butler Yeats.

Dinner may move on to what Damien calls “the noble call”… an Irish house custom where the host having performed his party piece then calls on others to lend a song, a poem or a dance to the evening.



On this 150th anniversary of Yeats’s birth, Sligo will see the best gathering yet of international Yeats scholars and players for an extravaganza of lectures, workshops, drama, poetry, tours, excursion, music and song.

As part of this crowdfunder, a group of us will attend for either one week or two weeks. The School starts on 27 July 2015. Details of the programme can be found here

These places are available as rewards on this project (see rewards panel on the right), so you can join in on the celebrations, enjoy good company while there, take away this beautiful special edition as well as unforgettable memories and friendships — all the while knowing you helped to creat this beautiful book.


Creative Mentoring

Those who know me for my creative mentoring work know that I have a long waiting list and places come up rarely. My slate is full with people who are dedicated and determined, and I’m all theirs until they decide they’re ready to go it alone. For this crowdfunder, I am offering a chance to jump the waiting list and enjoy either a single “How To Create Anything” session, or a package of three sessions — together with a signed copy of the book.


This project will create a collectible souvenier book with content and production values that will last another century — and beyond. 
Can you help me create this tribute to Yeats as bookmaker and story teller? 

Interview with Orna Ross

What was the inspiration for your novel?

When I was 13 or 14, I was introduced, as all Irish schoolchildren are, to WB Yeats, this poet who towers over Irish writing.

Our teacher, Miss McNamara, read the poems in a slow, mannered style she called Yeatsian, which had laughter simmering in the classroom, but I was a very moony teenager, and was immediately taken with the poetry.. and also with the story of Yeats’s unrequited love for Maud Gonne.

Maud was a British heiress turned Irish revolutionary, said to be “the most beautiful woman in the world”. Yeats said he “had never thought to see in a living woman such great beauty.” He had been seeking a muse and immediately handed her the role. From her repeated refusals to his proposals, he carved a life-long poetic career.


A few days into our work on Yeats, Miss McNamara casually mentioned that in later years, the poet had transferred his romantic attachment from Maud to her daughter.

“Her daughter!” I cried out into the classroom. “No, no, he couldn’t have.” Whereupon everyone laughed, of course.

And so was launched my fascination with Yeats and the Gonnes, mother and daughter, Maud and Iseult that, over the years, turned into three books: the first about Willie and Maud, the second about Iseult and Willie, the third about Maud and Iseult. *Her Secret Rose*, the book that forms one half of this crowdfunder, is the first of these — but also a standalone story in itself.

Seems like a lot of research. Did it take long?

Years. I first wrote about parts of this story in the 1990s and they were previously published by Penguin Ireland in 2006 (as part of A Dance in Time).

I was never happy with that publication and the publisher refused to put anything about Yeats or the Gonnes on the cover or in the publicity around the book. But I believe many readers share my fascination with these larger-than-life characters. Their story is riveting to me and I hope I have done it justice.

Who should read this book?

Anyone with an interest in Ireland or Yeats or Maud Gonne, obviously. In historical mysteries, in poetry, in the magic tradition, and in warts-and-all, behind-the-scenes stories. Willie and Maud lived 100 years ago but they were a very modern couple, who used hashish and mescaline and sex magic to foster poetry and to influence destiny — their own and Ireland’s.

Why Did You Set Up This Special Edition of The Book?

So many reasons!
1) I wanted to do something special for #yeats2015 to pay homage to this poet whose work has been so important to me.
2) I’ve been self-publishing since 2011 and like most indie authors, I concentrate on digital but, again like most authors, I love print books. I’ve long wanted to make a special book, with high production values, special binding and paper. What better way than to replicate this beautiful 19th century publication?
3) I wanted a way to extend the #yeats2015 celebrations to my readers, fans and followers, to give them an opportunity to get involved and help make something special
4) I thought it would be fun to get together at the Yeats summer school in Sligo in this special year and to launch the book there, with as many fans and followers as possible.
5) I wanted to highlight Yeats the fiction writer and The Secret Rose stories in particular.
6) I wanted to bring Yeats stories, and my story-behind-the-stories to the readers who would most value them.
7) I wanted to create something beautiful

Where Can I Find Out More.

More about me on www.ornaross.com.

And more about The Secret Rose book here: http://www.ornaross.com/2014/11/her-secret-rose-novel/


London, England

Member Since Apr 2014

I write novels and poems and the Go Creative! books, and run The Alliance of Independent Authors. Born and raised in Ireland I live in London, mostly. If not writing, you’ll probably find me reading.

Contact Information:

Orna Ross

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