Anne Stevenson, poet and biographer of Sylvia Plath, dies aged 87

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The American-British poet Anne Stevenson has died at the age of 87 at her home in Durham following a short illness. Saying it was “deeply saddened” to announced her death, her publisher Bloodaxe said Stevenson’s poems, “rooted in close observation of the world and acute psychological insight … continually question how we see and think about the world. They are incisive as well as entertaining, marrying critical rigour with personal feeling, and a sharp wit with an original brand of serious humour.”

She was born in Cambridge, England, in 1933, of American parents, and grew up in New England and Michigan. She studied music, European literature and history at the University of Michigan, returning later to read English and publishing the first critical study of Elizabeth Bishop. After several transatlantic moves, she settled in Britain in 1964, and has lived in Cambridge, Scotland, Oxford, the Welsh borders, north Wales and Durham.

In 1979, with Michael Farley, she started the Poetry Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye. She won the Northern Rock Foundation Writer’s Award, in 2002. In 2008, the Library of America published Anne Stevenson: Selected Poems, edited by Andrew Motion, in conjunction with the Neglected Masters award. As well as numerous collections of poetry, she wrote Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath (1989), and two critical studies of Elizabeth Bishop’s work. Her retrospective Poems 1955-2005 (2005) was followed by three late collections: Stone Milk (2007), Astonishment (2012) and Completing the Circle, published earlier this year, and which she described as her “swansong collection”, all from Bloodaxe. She leaves her husband, Peter Lucas, three children, and six grandchildren.

 

PHOTOGRAPH: BLOODAXE BOOKS 

 

 

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