George William Russell (April 10, 1867 – July 17, 1935) who wrote under the pseudonym Æ, was an Anglo-Irish supporter of the Nationalist movement in Ireland, a 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 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. 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.
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 – 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.
He 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.