Léonie Adams Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Léonie Fuller Adams was born on December 9, 1899, in Brooklyn, New York. Because her grandfather had business interests in Cuba, her father, Charles F. Adams, had been born there. His mother was from Venezuela. Adams’s father practiced law in New York.

At the age of eighteen, Léonie Adams enrolled at Barnard College, where she was soon writing poetry. In 1921, The New Republic published her poem “April Mortality,” her first published work. After graduating from Barnard, she held various editorial positions while continuing to write poetry. Thanks to assistance from interested friends, she was able to submit a collection of her poems to a publisher who issued it in 1925 under the title Those Not Elect, a phrase taken from English writer John Bunyan. Both Allen Tate and Louis Untermeyer reviewed this volume favorably, putting Adams in a position to apply for the then-new Guggenheim Fellowship program. She received the fellowship in 1928.

As a Guggenheim Fellow, Adams traveled to Europe. In Paris, she moved into an apartment that, according to one source, had been lent by Ford Madox Ford to Allen Tate and his wife, Carolyn (later Caroline Gordon). In this small apartment, Adams slept in a closet, the Tates and their daughter taking up the rest of the living space.

In 1929, Adams’s second book, High Falcon, and Other Poems, appeared. Returning to New York the next year, she took up what was to be a...

(The entire section is 448 words.)