Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1562
Richard Aldington (1892–1962)
Richard Aldington was born on July 8, 1892, in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, to Jesse May and Albert Edward Aldington. He attended University College in London but did not complete his degree, due to the loss of family funds.
In 1912, Aldington met Ezra Pound and Hilda Doolittle, and from this meeting, the Imagism movement began. In the same year, Aldington published his first imagist poems in Poetry.
The following year, Aldington traveled to Paris and Italy with Doolittle and on October 18, 1913, they were married. Shortly after, Aldington became the editor of the imagist publication Egoist, a position he would hold until 1917. His poems appeared in Des Imagistes (1914) as well as the second imagist anthology, Some Imagist Poets (1915). He completed his first book, Images (1910–1915), also in 1915.
Aldington enlisted in the army in 1916. His most reflective responses to this experience are included in his collection of poems Images of War (1919) and his novel, Death of a Hero (1929). During the remainder of his writing career, Aldington would publish a wide variety of books, which included biographies, translations, novels, and short stories. In 1941, he published his memoirs, Life for Life’s Sake.
Aldington was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his The Duke (1943). He also received the Prix de Gratitude Mistralienne for his Introduction to Mistral (1956). He died on July 27, 1962, in Lere, France.
Hilda Doolittle (1886–1961)
Hilda Doolittle (she published under the monogram H. D.) was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on September 10, 1886, to Helen (Wolle) and Charles Doolittle. She attended Bryn Mawr College for one year.
When she was twenty-five years old, Doolittle went abroad, during which time she renewed her relationship with Ezra Pound, through whom she met Aldington. Pound encouraged Doolittle’s writing and sent her poems to the magazine Poetry, identifying them with the monogram “H. D.,” a signature that Doolittle would embrace.
After the dissolution of her marriage to Aldington, Doolittle became pregnant from a brief love affair with another man and gave birth to a daughter in 1919. She named her Perdita. After her daughter’s birth, Doolittle became seriously ill and was nursed back to health by Annie Winifred Ellerman, a writer who went by the name Bryher and who would become Doolittle’s companion throughout the remaining years of her life. It was Bryher who arranged for Doolittle to be psychoanalyzed by Sigmund Freud during 1933 and 1934. Doolittle’s “Tribute to Freud” refers to this period.
Doolittle’s first collections of poems include, Sea Garden (1916), Hymen (1921), and Heliodora and Other Poems (1924). In 1927, she published a complete play in verse, Hippolytus Temporizes, her attempt to approximate her favorite Greek dramatist/poets. One of her most often quoted imagist poems is “Oread.”
In 1960, Doolittle was the first woman to receive the Award of Merit Medal for poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. On September 27, 1961, Doolittle died of a heart attack in Zurich, Switzerland. Her body was buried in her family’s cemetery plot in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
John Gould Fletcher (1886–1950)
John Gould Fletcher was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on January 3, 1886. He was the son of John Gould (a banker and broker) and Adolphine (Kraus) Fletcher. He attended Harvard University, but he left without obtaining a degree.
Having inherited his father’s estate early in life, Fletcher did not have to worry about finding employment. Instead, he devoted himself to the study of literature. He eventually traveled to England, where he met Ezra Pound and the other imagist poets.
Shortly after meeting Pound, Fletcher became alienated from him due to Pound’s criticism of his poetry. At the same time, Amy Lowell took an interest in Fletcher’s work, encouraging him and helping him to find publishers. In exchange, Fletcher introduced Lowell to his theory of the free verse of French poets. According to Glenn Hughes, in his Imagism and the Imagists, “Lowell was greatly impressed by both the theory and its results,” and she began to use Fletcher’s ideas in her own poetry. After learning that Fletcher could not find an English publisher for his Irradiations: Sand and Spray (1915), Lowell took Fletcher’s manuscript and found a publisher in the States, where it was well received.
Fletcher would go on to produce many more collections. Goblins and Pagodas (1916) reflects his return to the United States, during which time he revisited his childhood home and then Boston, where he became enthralled with Japanese art and produced his Japanese Prints (1918). The latter work was his attempt to write poems likened to Japanese haiku, a form that influenced many of the imagist poets. After his Breakers and Granite (1921), in which he takes a fresh look at the United States after many years of living in Europe, critics classify Fletcher’s work as post-imagist. He would go on to win the Pulitzer for his Selected Poems (1938).
On May 10, 1950, Fletcher drowned himself in a pool near his childhood home.
F. S. Flint (1885–1960)
Frank Stuart Flint was born on December 19, 1885, in Islington, England. His family was poor, and by the age of thirteen he had to drop out of school and go to work. A few years later, he was able to afford night classes, during which he gained an interest in the French poets and the use of free verse, which would influence his writing.
Flint made the acquaintance of T. E. Hulme, a poet and philosopher, and together they planted the theoretic seeds for the movement that would eventually be called Imagism.
Flint’s first collection of poems, In the Net of the Stars (1909), did not embody the full characteristics of the imagist poets, but they did reflect more realistic images and were written in a more natural, contemporary voice than those of his contemporaries. Flint’s poetry went through a drastic change over the years, as reflected in his next collection, Cadences (1915), which included only imagist poetry. His most ambitious collection was Otherworld: Cadences (1920), his last collection of poems. Ford Maddox Ford states (in J. B. Harmer’s Victory in Limbo, Imagism 1908–1917) that of the imagist poets, only Doolittle and Flint “have the really exquisite sense of words . . . and insight that justify a writer in assuming the rather proud title of imagist.” Flint died on February 28, 1960, in Berkshire, England.
Amy Lowell (1874–1925)
Amy Lowell was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on February 9, 1874, to Katherine (Bigelow), an accomplished musician and linguist, and Augustus Lowell, a businessman and horticulturist. From both sides of her family, Lowell enjoyed the benefits of the leisurely life of a Boston aristocrat. Not known for her academic accomplishments during her private school education, she nonetheless continued a pursuit of knowledge through selfeducation after graduating from high school in 1891.
In 1910, when she was thirty-four years old, Lowell had four of her sonnets published in the Atlantic Monthly. In 1912, she funded the publication of her first volume of poetry, A Dome of Many- Coloured Glass, which some critics felt relied too heavily on the nineteenth-century romantic tradition, an unpopular form at that time.
During this same year, Lowell met Ada Dwyer Russell, an actress with whom she would share the rest of her life. The poem “A Decade” focuses on Lowell and Russell’s relationship, written to celebrate their tenth anniversary together.
During the summer of 1913, after having read Doolittle’s poems in the magazine Poetry, Lowell went to London to meet Doolittle in person. It was through her association with Doolittle and the other imagist poets that Lowell transformed her own poetry, changing her tight nineteenth-century format to one in favor of technical experimentation and innovation. She eventually became a major sponsor for the imagist movement. Lowell’s interests in the movement would eventually clash with Ezra Pound, then considered the leader of the imagists, and Pound would leave. Afterward, Pound began referring to Imagism as “Amygism.”
Some of Lowell’s more popular collections of poetry include Sword Blades and Poppy Seed (1914), Men, Woman and Ghosts (1916), Can Grande’s Castle (1918), Legends (1921), Fir- Flower Tablets (1921), and A Critical Fable (1922). After Lowell’s death from a stroke on May 12, 1925, Russell edited several of Lowell’s unpublished poems and collected them under What’s O’Clock. The collection won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry that year.
Ezra Pound (1885–1972)
Ezra Pound was born on October 30, 1885, in Hailey, Idaho, to Isabel (Weston) and Homer Loomis Pound, a mine inspector. After receiving a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, he left the United States and traveled throughout Europe.
After meeting with Hulme, considered the strongest philosophical influence on the imagist movement, Pound modernized his poetic style. One of Pound’s first publications in London, Personae (1909) caused a critical sensation. His next publication, Exultations, published in the same year, marked what Glenn Hughes, writing in his Imagism and the Imagists, called the beginning of “the modern vogue of erudite poetry.”
Although Pound is credited with creating, supporting, and educating the imagist poets, he moved quickly through this period and on to other modern forms of poetry. While forming the imagists, Pound wrote “In a Station of the Metro,” a poem he considered to embrace the tenets of the movement. Pound’s collection Ripostes (1912) represents the beginning of his involvement with imagist poetry. Pound created the first anthology of imagist poetry, Des Imagistes (1914).
Pound would go on to win the Dial Award for distinguished service to American letters, the Bollingen Library of Congress Award (1949), and the Academy of American Poets fellowship (1963). He died in Venice, Italy, on November 1, 1972.