Harriet Monroe

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Harriet Monroe
BornDecember 23, 1860
Chicago, Illinois
DiedSeptember 26, 1936(1936-09-26) (aged 75)
Arequipa, Peru
OccupationEditor of Poetry magazine
 
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Harriet Monroe
BornDecember 23, 1860
Chicago, Illinois
DiedSeptember 26, 1936(1936-09-26) (aged 75)
Arequipa, Peru
OccupationEditor of Poetry magazine

Harriet Monroe (December 23, 1860 – September 26, 1936) was an American editor, scholar, literary critic, poet and patron of the arts. She is best known as the founding publisher and long-time editor of Poetry magazine, which made its debut in 1912. As a supporter of the poets Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, H. D., T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg and others, she played an important role in the development of modern poetry. Because she was a longtime correspondent of the poets she supported, her letters provide a wealth of information on their thoughts and motives.

Contents

Biography

Poetry cover1.jpg

Monroe was born in Chicago, Illinois. She honed her love of literature early. Her father's library was the perfect haven for a reclusive child, in a household fraught with parental tension and sibling rivalry.[1] In her autobiography, A Poet's Life: Seventy Years in a Changing World, published two years after her death, Monroe recalls: "I started in early with Shakespeare, Byron, Shelley, with Dickens and Thackeray; and always the book-lined library gave me a friendly assurance of companionship with lively and interesting people, gave me friends of the spirit to ease my loneliness."[2]

She graduated from the Visitation Academy of Georgetown, D.C., in 1879. Fueled by fears of posthumous anonymity, she proclaimed after graduation her determination to become "great and famous" as a poet or playwright. In the Dictionary of Literary Biography Judith Paterson quoted her as saying, "I cannot remember when to die without leaving some memorable record did not seem to me a calamity too terrible to be borne."[3] She afterward devoted herself to literary work. Though Century magazine published her poem, "With a Copy of Shelley," in 1889, she quickly became disillusioned over the limited earnings available for poets, saying: "The minor painter or sculptor was honored with large annual awards in our greatest cities, while the minor poet was a joke of the paragraphers, subject to the popular prejudice that his art thrived best on starvation in a garret."[3] She became a freelance correspondent to the Chicago Tribune, and was commissioned to write a commemorative ode for the 400th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America.[1] Her financial hardships were alleviated after she sued the New York World for publishing the poem without her consent and she was awarded $5,000 dollars in a settlement.[1]

With help from publisher Hobart Chatfield-Taylor, Monroe convinced one hundred prominent Chicago business leaders to sponsor the magazine Poetry by each committing to fifty dollars a year for a five-year subscription. The $5,000, coupled with her own settlement, was enough to launch the magazine on September 23, 1912, while upholding its promise to contributors of adequate payment for all published work.[1] Monroe was editor for its first two years without salary, while simultaneously working as an art critic for the Chicago Tribune. By 1914 the magazine work became too much for her to accomplish while working other jobs, so she resigned from the Chicago Tribune and accepted a salary of fifty dollars per month from the magazine. For more than ten years she maintained herself on this stipend, raising it to one hundred dollars per month in 1925.[1]

She continued editing the magazine until she died in Arequipa, Peru, while on her way to climb Macchu Picchu.[4]

Monroe was a member of the Eagle's Nest Art Colony in Ogle County, Illinois, and is mentioned in Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City.

Family

She was the sister-in-law of the Chicago architect John Wellborn Root, and wrote his biography.[5]

Works

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Harriet Monroe: 1860–1936". Poetry Foundation. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/harriet-monroe. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Monroe, Harriet (1938). A Poet's Life: Seventy Years in a Changing World. New York: Macmillan. 
  3. ^ a b Paterson, Judith (1990). "Harriet Monroe," in Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Magazine Journalists, 1900-1960. Detroit: Gale. pp. 226–234. ISBN 0810345714. 
  4. ^ "History - Poetry Magazine". Poetry Foundation. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/history.html. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Kruty, Paul (1998). Frank Lloyd Wright and Midway Gardens. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illiniois Press. p. 84. ISBN 0-252-02366-8. 

External links