Biography of Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) was born in
Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father died before she was a year
old; four years later, when her mother suffered a mental breakdown,
Bishop was taken to live with her grandmother in Nova Scotia.
Although her mother lived until 1934, Bishop saw her for the last
time in 1916, a visit recalled in one of her rare autobiographical
stories, "In the Village."
Bishop planned to enter Cornell Medical
School after graduating from Vassar, but was persuaded by poet
Marianne Moore to become a writer. For the next fifteen years,
she was a virtual nomad, traveling in Canada, Europe, and North
and South America. In 1951, she finally settled in Rio de Janeiro,
where she lived for almost twenty years. During the final decade
of her life, Bishop continued to travel, but she resumed living
in the United States and taught frequently at Harvard.
She was an austere writer, publishing only
four slim volumes of poetry: North and South (1946); A
Cold Spring (1955), which won the Pulitzer Prize; Questions
of Travel (1965); and Geography III (1976), which won
the National Book Critics' Circle Award. The Complete Poems,
1927-1979 (1984) was published after her death, as was a collection
of her prose. Despite her modest output, she has earned an enduring
place of respect among twentieth-century poets.