Donald Hall Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Donald Andre Hall, Jr., was born on September 20, 1928, in New Haven, Connecticut, the only child of Donald Andrew Hall and Lucy (Wells) Hall. Hall’s father ran a successful dairy business. Hall’s early years were divided between the contrasting worlds of middle-class suburbia and a pastoral, sensory-laden life on his grandparents’ farm in Danbury, New Hampshire. The Eagle Pond farm has remained in the Hall family for generations, and Hall made it his home, fulfilling a childhood dream to return. Hall has said that his whole intellectual and emotional life evolved from these conflicting cultures: the materialism and normalcy of his parents’ world and the closeness to nature and the land of his grandparents’ farm.

Spending time with his grandfather and doing farm chores as a boy gave Hall time to reflect. At the age of fourteen, he began to write poetry and yearn for a writing career. He also entertained ideas of a career as a great athlete or actor; his later adventures “trying out” for the Pittsburgh Pirates and giving many dramatic poetry readings show that, for Hall, these notions were not mere fantasies.

Hall entered Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, not for social reasons but because his parents thought highly of the school’s academics. He went on to Harvard University, because he believed that institution produced the best teachers. While an undergraduate, Hall dated Adrienne Rich, became friends with Robert Bly and Richard Wilbur, and was one of the founders of the Poet’s Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He won the Garrison and Sergeant prizes and was graduated with a B.A. from Harvard in 1951. On September 13, 1952, he was married to Kirby Thompson, a marriage that produced a son, Andrew, and a daughter Philippa, before it ended in divorce in 1969.

The first major milestone of Hall’s academic life saw him going to the University of Oxford in England as a Henry Fellow; there he also won recognition for his first important book, Exiles and Marriages. Hall earned...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Donald Andrew Hall, Jr., was born into a prosperous family and attended Philips Exeter Academy from 1944 to 1947 before entering Harvard University, where he received his A.B. in 1951. From there he went to Oxford University, where he received the B.Litt. in 1953, followed by further graduate work in 1953-1954 at Stanford University, where he was a Fellow in Creative Writing. From 1954 to 1957 he was a junior fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard, after which he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan. In 1975 he left the university to return to his family home at Sable Pond Farm in New Hampshire.

Before the appearance of his first volume of poetry, Hall received the Lloyd McKim Garrison Prize for poetry at Harvard in 1951, the John Osborne Sergeant Prize for Latin translation at Harvard in 1951, and the Newdigate Prize for poetry at Oxford in 1952. His initial volume of poems, Exiles and Marriages, earned him the Lamont Prize of the Academy of American Poets in 1955, as well as the Edna St. Vincent Millay Memorial Award, for the same year. Later he received a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as a number of other awards for his poetry such as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Robert Frost medal of the Poetry Society of America. At one time he was the state poet laureate of New Hampshire.

As a poet Hall wrote of a growing isolation from both humanity and the physical...

(The entire section is 451 words.)


(Poetry for Students)

Donald Hall was born on September 20, 1928, in New Haven, Connecticut. Although he grew up in the depths of the Depression, the elder Halls...

(The entire section is 353 words.)