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Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell

Born into a Boston Brahmin family, Robert Traill Spence Lowell IV was a commanding literary presence, shaping by example the dominant aesthetics of midcentury English poetry and playing a significant role in the book culture of his day. His first major collection of poems, Lord Weary’s Castle, won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize. Lowell is best known for his 1959 collection, Life Studies, which inaugurated the “confessional” movement and won the National Book Award. His first wife was the novelist Jean Stafford, who was seriously injured in a car accident with Lowell. Along with his second wife, Elizabeth Hardwick, he helped found The New York Review of Books. Lowell received the Pulitzer a second time in 1974 for his late collection of sonnets, The Dolphin, perhaps his most controversial book—in it, he set edited versions of actual letters from Hardwick in verse, narrating the breakdown of their marriage and the beginning his new relationship with the British writer Caroline Blackwood, who would become his third wife. His final book, Day by Day, was published in 1977, the year he died of a heart attack.

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