Robinson Jeffers Additional Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

John Robinson Jeffers’s life, milieu, and work are of one piece. From his early adulthood, one can see him choosing a place of living and a way of life that are strongly reflected in his poetry and in his occasional prose statements about his work.

When Jeffers was born in Pittsburgh in 1887, his father was forty-nine, his mother twenty-seven. His father’s occupation as well as his age set the boy apart; the senior Jeffers had been a Presbyterian minister and was professor of Old Testament literature and exegesis at Western Theological Seminary. Young Robin was an only child for seven years, and he spent much of his time in solitary wandering or reading on the relatively isolated family property. He was later educated in Switzerland for nearly four years, in schools in which the language of instruction was either French or German. His father had introduced him to Greek at the age of five, and he also acquired Latin and some Italian. After his parents moved to Los Angeles, he entered Occidental College, where he continued his classical and literary education and supplemented his childhood religious training with courses in biblical literature and theology.

Although popular with his fellow students, Jeffers already was establishing the pattern of his life through his interest in camping and mountain climbing on one hand, and in reading and writing on the other. Graduating at eighteen, he then pursued medical studies at the University of...

(The entire section is 548 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111201230-Jeffers.jpg Robinson Jeffers Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Born in 1887, John Robinson Jeffers spent a great deal of his childhood traveling about Europe with his parents. Some of their stops included Zurich, where he went to kindergarten, London, and Edinburgh. At the age of fifteen, he returned to the United States; the next year his family moved to California, the region Jeffers later chose as the background of his poetry. At eighteen he graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles. After that, according to Jeffers’s account, came desultory years at the University of Southern California (USC), the University of Zurich, the USC Medical School, and the University of Washington, all with faint interest. As he stated, “I wasn’t deeply interested in anything but poetry.”

In 1912, he published Flagons and Apples, a volume that contained little hint of his later distinctive and powerful style. The next year he married Una Call Kuster, and the following summer they planned a trip to England. World War I broke out, however, so they turned back to the village of Carmel, on the California coast. The country around Carmel Bay, wild and rugged, possessed a beauty that appealed to Jeffers. It was there that he built a stone house (Tor House) and, with his own hands, an observation tower. They lived there in virtual seclusion.

After Californians, Jeffers brought out in 1924 the book that brought him fame, Tamar, and Other Poems. The volumes came swiftly afterward: Roan...

(The entire section is 501 words.)