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Bishop, Elizabethlocked

(08 February 1911–06 October 1979)
  • Anne Agnes Colwell


Bishop, Elizabeth (08 February 1911–06 October 1979), poet, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the daughter of Gertrude Bulmer and William Thomas Bishop, owners of the J. W. Bishop contracting firm. Bishop’s childhood was filled with a sense of loss that pervades her poetry. Her father died from Bright’s disease when she was eight months old. Her mother, psychologically distraught, spent the next five years in and out of psychiatric hospitals. With William’s death, Gertrude lost her U.S. citizenship and, when she experienced the decisive breakdown in her family home in Nova Scotia, was hospitalized in a public sanatorium in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Elizabeth Bishop was five when this breakdown occurred; she later recounted it in her prose masterpiece “In the Village.” Her mother, diagnosed as permanently insane, never saw Elizabeth again....

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