Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
Canadian-born American poet Josephine Jacobsen was born Josephine Boylan in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, in 1908. Her parents, Joseph Edward and Octavia Boylan, had two children, a daughter and a son. Jacobsen’s father died when she was five; she lived with her mother and brother. The family moved around a lot, to such places as New York City, North Carolina, Atlantic City, and Connecticut. When she was fourteen, the family settled down near Baltimore, Maryland. Jacobsen was tutored for awhile, and then entered the Roland Park Country School. Even in these early years, writing poetry was important to her. She was enthralled with education and learning. Her one regret was that she never went to college: “At times, it just lacerates me to think of, oh, if I’d had that experience.” After graduating from high school in 1926, Jacobsen joined a semiprofessional theater group. In 1932, she married Eric Jacobsen. They had one son and one grandson, who later died in a tragic accident.
As Elizabeth Spires has pointed out, “Unlike many of her contemporaries, Jacobsen has not pursued a particularly ’literary’ life.” Though she was publishing in periodicals such as Poetry and having small presses steadily publish volumes of her poetry, such as Let Each Man Remember in 1940, For the Unlost in 1946, The Human Climate in 1953, and The Animal Inside in 1966, it was not until she got a job working with the Library...
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