Robert Lowell (1917-1977) was an American author. His works include Land of Unlikeness (1944), Lord Weary's Castle (1946), The Mill of the Kavanaughs (1951), Old Glory (1964), and Dolphin (1973). He won a Pulitzer Prize for Lord Weary's Castle and for Dolphin.
Life and Works
Lowell was born March 1, 1917, to a high-class family in Boston, Massachusetts, and claims many famous relatives including Jonathan Edwards, Anne Hutchinson, and Robert Livingston. As a young child, he had decided on a career as a poet, and studied the English poetry tradition each summer between studying at St. Mark's preparatory school. He attended Harvard University for two years before transferring to Kenyon College, where got an undergraduate degree in 1940, and later attended Louisiana State University. He spent a year in jail when he avoided the draft during World War Two (which he did in opposition to Allied saturation bombing). It was during those post-graduation years that he met Randall Jarrell, converted to Roman Catholicism, and wrote the poems that would become Land of Unlikeness and Lord Weary's Castle. He would continue to write in Mills of the Kavanaughs, a series of monologues, though it was his 1959 poetic autobiography Life Studies that would establish the genre of confessional poetry for which he known for creating.
In the 1960s he furthered the movement for confessional poetry. The autobiographical theme is reflected to varying degrees in his following works, For the Union Dead (1964), Near the Ocean (1967), Notebook: Nineteen Sixty-Seven to Nineteen Sixty-Eight (1969), Day by Day (1977), and Last Poems (1977). He won a second Pulitzer Prize for The Dolphin and worked in his later years to translate Racine's Phaedre, Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound, and the works of various European poets including Charles Baudelaire.
He died on September 12, 1977 on the way to see his wife, returning from the airport in a taxicab after visiting Ireland.
- The New York Public Library Student's Desk Reference. Prentice Hall: New York, 1991.
- "Lowell, Robert." Encyclopedia Britannica Online.