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Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

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Elizabeth Bishop

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  1. Elizabeth Bishop Her Poetic Life

  2. Her Life before Poetry • Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on February 8, 1911. She was the only child of William T. Bishop and Gertrude May Bishop, both of Canadian ancestry. • On October 13, 1911 her father died from kidney disease, when Bishop was only eight months old. • In 1916 Bishop's mother subsequently suffered a number of breakdowns mother was permanently institutionalized. Although her mother lived until 1934, Bishop saw her for the last time in 1916. Her mother died in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia when Bishop was only five years old.

  3. Living Arrangements • After her mothers placement in a asylum she was taken by her maternal grandparents to their home in Nova Scotia town called Great Village. Out of her experiences there came the short story "In the Village" and the poem "First Death in Nova Scotia.” • In September 1917 her father's parents took her from her largely happy life in Great Village to live with them in their mansion in Worcester. While living in Worcester, she experienced asthma, eczema, and other ailments. From her experiences there would come the superb late poem "In the Waiting Room.” • May 1918 her paternal grandparents allowed her to live with her aunt, Maud Shepherdson, and her husband, George. This, the fourth household in which Elizabeth had lived by the age of eight, proved to be a stable and happy one, and she later credited her aunt with having saved her life.

  4. School • Bishop attended Walnut Hill School from 1927 to 1930, a boarding institution in Natick, Massachusetts. Fall of 1930, Elizabeth Bishop became a freshman at Vassar College in New York, where she majored in English literature. • In March 1934, last semester at Vassar, she was able, through the college's librarian, to meet the poet Marianne Moore, this one meeting flourished into friendship that would prove decisive for Bishop's life and ambitions. Especially in the next few years, she would rely on Moore for advice and for criticism of her work. • June 1934 was her college graduation, she earned a bachelor's degree. Bishop planned to enter Cornell Medical School after graduating from Vassar, but was persuaded by poet Marianne Moore to become a writer. She moved to New York City, determined to make her way as a writer. In residence in New York for a year, she wrote her first mature poems, including "The Map" and "The Man-Moth."

  5. Life • Summer of 1935, she made her first trip to Europe. Over the next several years, she visited Paris, London, Italy, Spain, and Morocco, North Africa, Ireland, and then settled in Key West, Florida, for four years. Her poetry is filled with descriptions of her travels and the scenery which surrounded her. • In 1942, in New York, she met Lota de Macedo Soares, a young Brazilian woman of aristocratic background, who would become the love of her life. • In 1951 she made her first visit to South America, which led to her decision to live in Brazil with Lota Soares. The move to Brazil inaugurated one of the happiest and most settled periods of Bishop's life, and her companion Lota was instrumental in getting her to seek help for, and to achieve some control over, her alcoholism, her asthma, and her chronic depression. • 1967 Bishop made an extended visit to New York, Lota joined her there. In the middle of the first night of her visit Lota arose while Bishop was asleep and took an overdose of tranquilizers, which, after a five-day coma, proved fatal.

  6. October 6, 1979 She died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, of a cerebral aneurysm. Her stature as a major poet continues to grow through the high regard of the poets and critics who have followed her.

  7. Teaching Career • Bishop lectured in higher education for a number of years. For a short time she taught at the University of Washington, before moving to Harvard for seven years, after which she taught at New York University, before finishing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  8. Accomplishments • In 1945 she was awarded the Poetry Prize Fellowship, and her book, entitled North & South, appeared the following spring. It contained such early masterpieces as "Roosters" and "The Fish". • For her poetry, Bishop was awarded the Houghton Mifflin poetry award in 1946, and the Neustadt Prize for Literature. Elizabeth Bishop also received two Guggenheim fellowships. • Bishop was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress [the equivalent to what is now called the Poet Laureate] in 1949-50.  • In 1955 her book North & South--A Cold Spring was published. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. • Her book of poems, Questions of Travel, won the National Book Award in 1965. • In 1969 a collected edition of her poetry appeared and she won the National Book Award.  • Geography III, received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976.

  9. Reflection Elizabeth Bishops Poetry

  10. Conclusion • Elizabeth Bishop came from a life a hardships, she fought through illness and losses. Elizabeth created poems that were filled with imagery from her travels and stories from her child hood. She had her own special way of writing; even so, the popularity of her work still continues to grow.