Sara Teasdale

1884 –

Sara Trevor Teasdale was born on August 8, 1884, in St. Louis, into an old, established, and devout family. She was home-schooled until she was nine and traveled frequently to Chicago, where she became part of the circle surrounding Poetry magazine and Harriet Monroe. Teasdale published Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems (The Poet Lore Company), her first volume of verse, in 1907. Her second collection, Helen of Troy, and Other Poems (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), followed in 1911, and her third, Rivers to the Sea (Macmillan), in 1915.

In 1914, Teasdale married Ernst Filsinger. She had previously rejected a number of other suitors, including Vachel Lindsay. She moved with her new husband to New York City in 1916. In 1918, she won the Columbia University Poetry Society Prize (which became the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry) and the Poetry Society of America’s Prize for Love Songs (Macmillan), which had appeared in 1917. She published three more volumes of poetry during her lifetime: Stars To-night: Verses New and Old for Boys and Girls (Macmillan, 1930); Dark of the Moon (Macmillan, 1926); and Flame and Shadow (Macmillan, 1920).

Teasdale’s work has been characterized by its simplicity and clarity, her use of classical forms, and her passionate and romantic subject matter. Her later books trace her growing finesse and poetic subtlety. She divorced in 1929 and lived the rest of her life as a semi-invalid. Weakened after a difficult bout with pneumonia, Teasdale died by suicide on January 29, 1933. Her final collection, Strange Victory (Macmillan) appeared posthumously that same year.