Eve Merriam

(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

Early Life

A lover of the sound of poetry from her earliest childhood, Eve Merriam (born Eva Moskovitz) began writing poems at the age of seven and published her first works in high school. After graduating from college, she wrote radio scripts for the Columbia Broadcasting System. Her first book of poetry, Family Circle (1946), earned for her the Yale Younger Poets Prize. Over the next fourteen years, she published more poetry, fiction, a fictionalized biography of Emma Lazarus, and her first feminist nonfiction book, The Double Bed from the Feminine Side (1958).

The 1960’s

Merriam established her importance as a children’s poet with her first volumes of children’s poetry: There Is No Rhyme for Silver (1962), It Doesn’t Always Have to Rhyme (1964), and Catch a Little Rhyme (1966). All were named Junior Literary Guild selections, bringing her celebration of the sound of words to a wide audience. Her poems, read and studied in classrooms across the country, were instantly recognized as intelligent and fun—works to be read aloud and enjoyed. She also wrote several books of juvenile prose during this decade.

Although she had a lifelong concern for gender equality, in her early career she had revealed this belief only occasionally, consciously avoiding the label “feminist writer.” The children’s book Mommies at Work (1961) depicted women in...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Green, Carol Hurd, and Mary Grimley Mason, eds. American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present. Vol. 5. New York: Unger, 1994. Provides a biographical sketch and a thorough bibliography of Merriam. Discusses her works and identifies some of the themes that run throughout the canon.

Senick, Gerard J., ed. Children’s Literature Review. Vol. 14. Detroit: Gale, 1988. Contains a biographical profile of Merriam as well as a review of works and awards she received.

Sloan, Glenna. “Profile: Eve Merriam.” Language Arts 80 (November/December, 1981): 957-964. Written on a level that middle-school children can read with understanding, the profile focuses on information about Merriam’s home and life. Quotes Merriam about some of her feelings and likes and dislikes. Provides poetry samples that illustrate her advice to teachers of poetry.