Margaret Widdemer 1884-1978

Margaret Widdemer was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the daughter of a minister of the First Congregational Church and grew up in Philadelphia. In 1919 she got married to a widower, Robert Haven Schauffer, a multi-talented musician, writer, and athlete who had represented the United States at tennis. They moved in elevated literary circles, their friends including Ezra Pound, Scott Fitzgerald, and T S Eliot. At some stage their marriage must have come to an end as it is stated that Schauffer died a divorcee in 1964. Margaret died fourteen years later in New York City at the age of 93.

Margaret had a prolific, illustrious career as a writer, producing nine children’s novels, thirty works of adult fiction, and nine volumes of poetry. In keeping with her awareness of social problems, many of her poems, for example The Beggars, are sympathetic to the lot of the unfortunate and downtrodden, others reflect her Christian faith and some, such as Winter Branches, glory in the beauty of nature. She also wrote some love poetry.

Her first novel The Rose-Garden Husband was published in 1915 but it was her initial poetry collection, The Factories and Other Poems (1917), dealing with the horrors of child labour, which first brought her to public attention. The acme of her career came two years later when she was the joint winner of the Columbia University Prize, the forerunner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, for her poetry collection The Old Road to Paradise. Her last poetry collection, The Dark Cavalier, was published in 1958 and her final novel in 1968. In 1964 she published a memoir, Golden Friends I Had, recounting her friendships with celebrity writers.

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