Hilda Doolittle was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the first Moravian community in America, on September 10, 1886. Her mother, Helen Wolle Doolittle, was artistic and musical; her father, Charles Leander Doolittle, was professor of mathematics and astronomy at Lehigh, later director of the Flower Observatory at the University of Pennsylvania. Hilda had a rich childhood in a setting of mystical Moravianism that exerted a lasting influence on her poetry.
At the age of fifteen, she met Pound, the first of several extraordinary figures who profoundly influenced her life. Pound, then a precocious graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, encouraged her to become broadly read, and together they studied Latin, Greek, the classics, yogic texts, and a great diversity of authors. Pound, according to their fellow student William Carlos Williams, “was wonderfully in love with her,” but their relationship was somewhat stormy. In 1908, he proposed that they elope to Europe, but her family ties and her suspicions of his other romantic liaisons deterred her. This estrangement was equivocal, however, and in 1911, Hilda joined Pound and his literary circle in London, never again to live in the United States. Her first Imagist poems were published in Poetry (January, 1913), under the signature that Pound suggested, “H. D., Imagiste.” Active in the Imagist movement, she published her first collection, Sea Garden, in 1916.
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