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Robert Lowell, Jr.


   Robert Trail Spence Lowell, Jr. was an important poet with a Knox County, Ohio, connection. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1917 where his father, Robert Trail Spence, Sr. was a naval officer. Robert, Jr. spent most of his youth in Boston, except for periods of time in Washington and Philadelphia when the family was following Robert, Sr., in his naval assignments. Robert attended St. Mark’s School in Boston and studied for two years at Harvard University. He transferred to Kenyon College in order to study under John Crowe Ransom. He graduated from Kenyon in 1940 with a B.A. in classical studies. That same year he married Jean Stafford.

   Robert came from the heritage of the well-known New England Lowells, and early in life was inclined to become a poet. He worked for a short time for a New York publisher. At the beginning of World War II he refused to be drafted and spent five months in prison. For a few years he worked as a Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress. In 1947-1948 he was a lecturer at Kenyon College.

   After divorcing his first wife in 1948, Robert married Elizabeth Hardwick and the couple spent several years in Europe. Again there was a divorce after which Lowell married Caroline Blackwood. Mr. Lowell died in 1977 in Connecticut. Even though Robert Lowell spent only a few years in Knox County, Ohio, his connection with Kenyon College was a significant part of his life.

   By all accounts he was an important poet. The Oxford Companion to English Literature (1985) considers him the “. . . greatest American poet of his time, a heroic myth-maker whose work was compared favorably with that of Yeats. He was an ironic intellectual.” In addition to writing poetry he was active in theater work, writing and translating plays.

These titles represent specific collections of his writings. Many of his poems appeared in other anthologies as well.


Land of Unlikeness. 1944

Lord Weary’s Castle. 1946 (Won the Pulitzer prize, 1947)

The Mills of the Cavanaughs. 1951

Life Studies. 1959

For the Union Dead. 1964

The Old Glory. 1965 (plays)

Near the Ocean. 1967

Notebook 1967-1968. 1968

The Dolphin. 1973

Day by Day. 1977

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Knox County Historical Society

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