Eve Merriam (MEH-rih-uhm), born Eva Moskovitz, was a noted poet and successful dramatist of the twentieth century. While she is best known for her children’s literature, she also wrote poetry and nonfiction, including feminist works, for adults. She was the daughter of Russian emigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. Her father owned a chain of women’s clothing stores.
From early childhood, Merriam found it hard to stay still when she heard poetry read, and it was only a small step to begin writing poetry herself. After attending Cornell University for two years and earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, she moved to New York to study at Columbia University. She worked as a copywriter and feature editor for fashion magazines as well as writing for radio and moderating a weekly radio program on poetry, and for a few years did free-lance magazine and book writing. When she was unsuccessful in getting her poetry published, a professor suggested that her Jewish surname might be a barrier; she finally agreed to change her name and selected Merriam from seeing the American lexicographer’s name on the dictionary.
While Merriam would go on to gain numerous awards and recognition later in her career, a longed-for goal in the earlier years of her writing came with the Yale Series Younger Poets Award for her first volume of poetry for adults, Family Circle, in 1946. The poet Archibald MacLeish, who wrote an...
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