Biography of Amy Lowell

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Amy Lowell (February 9, 1874-May 12, 1925) was an American poet of the imagist school, who posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926. Lowell was born to a prominent Massachusetts family. One brother, Percival Lowell, was a famous astronomer, who predicted the existence of the planet Pluto; another brother, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, served as President of Harvard University. She herself never attended college because it was not deemed proper for a woman, but she compensated for this with her avid reading, which became near-obsessive book-collecting. She lived as a socialite and travelled widely, turning to poetry in 1902 after being inspired by a performance of Eleonora Duse in Europe. Her first published work appeared in 1910 in Atlantic Monthly. The first published collection of her poetry, A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, appeared two years later.

That same year, she met actress Ada Dwyer Russell, who became her companion and lover and the subject of her more erotic work. The two women travelled to England together, where Lowell met Ezra Pound, who was at once a major influence and a major critic of her work.

Lowell was an imposing figure, who dressed in clothing considered manly, kept her hair cropped short, and wore a pince-nez. She smoked cigars constantly, claiming that they lasted longer than cigarettes. A glandular problem kept her perpetually overweight, so that Pound once commented that she was a “hippopoetess.” Her writing also included critical works on French literature and a biography of John Keats.

Lowell died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925. The following year, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for What’s O’Clock. Forgottenfor years, there has been a resurgence of interest in her work because of its focus on lesbian themes and her collection of love poems addressed to Ada Dwyer Russell.

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