Cynthia Lee Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Cynthia Macdonald was born Cynthia Lee on February 2, 1928, in New York City, to Leonard Lee, a department store buyer, and Dorothy Kiam Lee. Cynthia’s younger sister died in childhood. When Cynthia was eight, the family moved to southern California, where Leonard Lee became a film writer. Four years later, the Lees were divorced. Dorothy took Cynthia back to New York and enrolled her in the prestigious Brearley School, where she remained for five years. At twelve, Cynthia attended her first opera and was so impressed that eventually she resolved to become an operatic performer. However, her parents persuaded her to go to Bennington College instead of to a music school.

After graduating in 1950, she returned to New York to prepare for her musical career. Even after her marriage in 1954 to E. C. Macdonald, a Shell Oil executive, she continued to appear with small opera companies and to sing in restaurants where the staff performed. Her husband was moved so frequently that Cynthia Macdonald found it difficult to establish herself in her own career. However, while she was at home with her two children, Jennifer Tim, born in 1956, and Scott Thurston, born in 1959, she began writing poetry. By the time the family returned from three years in Japan, Macdonald had decided to give up music and to concentrate on her writing.

After receiving her M.A. in 1970 from Sarah Lawrence College, Macdonald began teaching there. When her husband was transferred...

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