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Biography

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Born in New York City in 1901, Laura (Riding) Jackson occupies the American literary landscape of the Twentieth Century as a poet, critic, and author increasingly concerned with language "as the natural human truth-system." She is best known for her association with the Fugitives in the 1920s, her personal and literary partnership with Robert Graves between 1925 and 1938, and as editor of Epilogue. Yet, as a modernist poet, a critic whose work was at the base of the New Criticism, and in her editorial work, she engaged in a relentless dialogue with scores of poets, authors, and critics of the Twentieth Century, which she pursued until her death in 1991. The Laura (Riding) Jackson and Schuyler B. Jackson Collection fully documents the strength of her dedication to the search for the sources of meaning, as well as her appeal to those who worked with her.

CHRONOLOGY

1901 Born in New York City, the daughter of Nathaniel Reichenthal and Sadie Edersheim Reichenthal (Nathan's first wife was Laura Lorber, with whom he had a daughter, Isabel).
1918 Enrolls at Cornell University, which she attends for three years. Here she meets Esther (Polly) Antell, who will become a lifelong friend, and Louis Gottschalk, a history instructor.
1920 Louis Gottschalk and Laura Riding are married. In 1921 accompanies him first to Urbana, Illinois, then to Louisville, Kentucky, where he has teaching positions.
1923 Assumes the name Laura Riding Gottschalk.
Her poems begin to appear in various magazines, including The Fugitive.
1924 The literary circle 'The Fugitives' awards her the Nashville Prize. In November, attends one of their meetings in Nashville.
1925 She and Louis Gottschalk are divorced. She moves to New York City where she becomes friends with the poet Hart Crane and various other American writers.
Her first critical essay, "A Prophecy or a Plea," published in April.
Robert Graves invites her to collaborate on a book about modern poetry. Sails for England at the end of the year.
1926 In January, accompanies Robert Graves and his wife Nancy Nicholson to Egypt, from which they return to England in July.
Her first book of poems, The Close Chaplet, is published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press in England and by Adelphi in the United States.
1927 Her verse fantasy Voltaire (written 1921) is published by the Hogarth Press. Publishes, with Robert Graves, A Survey of Modernist Poetry.
Founds the Seizin Press with Graves.
Changes name, by deed poll, to Laura Riding.
1928 Some of her major critical works are published: Contemporaries and Snobs in February; Anarchism is Not Enough in May; A Pamphlet Against Anthologies, with Robert Graves, in July (all by Jonathan Cape).
The Seizin Press publishes her collection of poems Love as Love, Death as Death.
Publishes poems in various magazines, including transition.
Meets Gertrude Stein during a visit to Paris.
1929 Attempts suicide on April 27.
In October leaves London with Graves and moves to Deya, Mallorca, where they relocate the Seizin Press.
1930 Jonathan Cape publishes Poems: A Joking Word and Experts Are Puzzled; Nancy Cunard's Hours Press publishes Twenty Poems Less and Four Unposted Letters to Catherine; and Though Gently is published by the Seizin Press.
1930-1935 During her stay at Deya in the 1930s she is visited by a number of English and American friends including poets Norman Cameron and James Reeves, mathematician and writer Jacob Bronowski, filmmaker and artist Len Lye, artist John Aldridge, journalist and novelist Honor Wyatt, and T.S. Matthews, who will become managing editor of Time magazine.
With Robert Graves founds Epilogue. Other collaborative projects include Life of the Dead (1933) illustrated by John Aldridge; and 14A (1934), written with George Ellidge.
1935 Progress of Stories is published by Constable/Seizin.
1936 After the start of the Spanish Civil War, Riding and Graves are forced to evacuate Deya with only one suitcase apiece; they relocate to London.
1937 A Trojan Ending is published by Constable/Seizin Press in England and Random House in the United States. Riding and Graves spend four months in Switzerland, working on various writing projects including their collected poems.
1938 Collected Poems is published by Cassell and Random House. With others, composes The Covenant of Literal Morality, and publishes The World and Ourselves and The Left Heresy in Literature and Life, whose first author is Harry Kemp. In June, settles in France with Graves, sharing a house with Beryl and Alan Hodge.
1939 In April, returns to the United States at the invitation of T.S. Matthews.
Meets Schuyler B. Jackson.
Lives of Wives is published by Cassell and Random House.
Seizin Press terminated.
Her relationship with Robert Graves ends.
With Schuyler Jackson she resumes work on A Dictionary of Related Meanings, which she had started with Jacob Bronowski and continued with Robert Graves and Alan Hodge in the 1930s. Dent in England and Little, Brown in the United States contract to publish the work.
1941 Schuyler Jackson and Laura Riding are married; they settle near New Hope, Pennsylvania.
1942 "The Latest in Synonymy," by Schuyler and Laura Jackson, published in the Wilson Library Bulletin.
1943 Moves to Wabasso, Florida.
New contracts for Dictionary signed with Little, Brown and Dent.
Jacksons begin fruit shipping business while continuing to work on the Dictionary.
1946 Little, Brown cancels the contract for the book.
1950 Jacksons begin work on a new language project, which would become Rational Meaning: A New Foundation for the Definition of Words. Also continue work on Charles M. Doughty, which Schuyler Jackson had begun years earlier on his own. Terminate fruit shipping business in September, due to Schuyler's ill-health.
1955 Publishes, as Laura (Riding) Jackson, her first statement indicating her renunciation of poetry ("a cautious generalization") in Twentieth Century Authors: First Supplement.
1962 Reading of Laura Riding poems broadcast by BBC, prefaced by first statement of reasons for renunciation of poetry. "Introduction To A Broadcast" subsequently appeared in Chelsea magazine--the first of many periodical articles, on varied topics, published 1962-1991, and after.
1963 Reading of Four Unposted Letters to Catherine broadcast by BBC. First public use of the name Laura (Riding) Jackson in Civilta' delle Macchine (next in Chelsea, January 1964).
1967 Core-piece of The Telling published in Chelsea.
1968 Schuyler Jackson dies on July 4th.
1970 Faber and Faber publishes Selected Poems: In Five Sets in Great Britain (W.W. Norton &Co. publishes the book in the United States in 1973).
1971 Granted the Mark Rothko Appreciation Award.
1972 The Athlone Press of the University of London publishes The Telling in Great Britain, Harper & Row in the United States (1973). In January a reading of her poetry is recorded for Lamont Library, Harvard College.
1973 Recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship.
1976 Chelsea publishes a special issue (35) dedicated to Laura (Riding) Jackson, which collects many of her works of the 1970s.
1979 Recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
1980 The Poems of Laura Riding, a re-issue of the 1938 Collected Poems with appendices and a new introduction, published by Carcanet Press in Manchester, England, and Persea Books in New York. Targ Editions publishes Description of Life.
1981 Nominated by Danish poet Poul Borum for the Neustadt Prize.
1982 Carcanet and Dial Press republish Progress of Stories with other early stories, new preface, and other new material.
1983 Some Communications of Broad Reference published by Lord John Press, Northridge, California.
1984 Carcanet republishes A Trojan Ending with a new preface by Laura (Riding) Jackson. The book is translated into Spanish and appears as Final Troyano from Edhasa, Barcelona, in 1986.
1988 Carcanet republishes Lives of Wives.
1991 90th-birthday celebration published in Chelsea (USA) and PN Review (UK). Laura (Riding) Jackson is co-recipient, with Donald Justice, of the Bollingen Prize.
She dies in Wabasso on September 2nd.