Amy Lowell

On this date in 1874, poet Amy Lawrence Lowell was born in Brookline, Mass. Her father, a cousin of James Russell Lowell, was also related to Robert Lowell. Amy grew up in a house her father dubbed “Sevenels” (because seven Lowells lived there). Lowell at first had a British governess and became famous in her family for her creative misspellings. As a popular debutante, known for her dancing and conversational style, she had no less than 60 dinners thrown for her.

Because it was not considered “proper” by her family for young women to go to college, she was denied a higher education, but made use of her family’s extensive library to educate herself. After a failed engagement and growing obesity, probably stemming from a glandular condition, Lowell was exiled to Egypt in 1897-98 to help her forget her troubles and also lose weight. The imposed spartan regimen nearly killed her.

She started writing poetry in 1902 and met actress Ada Dwyer Russell in 1912, with whom she had a “Boston marriage” for the rest of her life. Her first of several books of poems, Men, Women & Ghosts, was published in 1916. Lowell wrote Tendencies in Modern American Poetry (1917). Her biography of John Keats appeared in 1925. What’s O’Clock, posthumously published in 1925, was awarded a $1,000 Pulitzer Prize for the best volume of verse published during the year by an American author.

Lowell penned more than 650 poems before her death from a cerebral hemorrhage at age 51. (D. 1925)

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