Amy Lowell 1874-1925

Amy Lowell was born in Brookline, a district of Boston, Massachusetts in 1874. As the youngest of five children, she came from a long line of distinguished forebears and grew up in a wealthy, elite environment. She was home tutored and later attended private schools but her old-fashioned patrician parents did not allow her to attend college. She nevertheless developed a love of books from an early age and turned to writing poetry in 1902. Her first published work in 1910 was her poem Fixed Idea. This was followed two years later by her first collection of poetry, A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, and by Sword Blades and Poppy Seed in 1914. Several more volumes were to follow in the coming years.

She developed a close, some say, lesbian friendship with the actress Ada Dwyer Russell, who is reputed to be the subject of her more erotic works, most notably in the love poems in Two Speak Together, a sub-section of the collection Pictures of the Floating World. The two travelled to England together where she met Ezra Pound, the American poet and critic. Her poetry was influenced by the Imagist movement, which included Pound, Ford Madox Brown, and Richard Aldington, but she was later influenced by Japanese and Chinese poetry.

Amy Lowell died at the family home in Brookline in 1925 of a cerebral haemorrhage, having just published the collection What’s O’Clock, which included one of her best known poems, Lilacs. For this, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry posthumously. Two further volumes of her poetry were published soon after her death and her complete poetical works were published in 1955. She also wrote a biography of the poet John Keats.

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