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Ruth Pitter Biography

(1897–92), New Age, First Poems, Persephone in Hades, A Mad Lady's Garland

English poet, born in Ilford, Essex. Among other occupations, she painted giftware and furniture for a London business in which she was a partner, and worked as a broadcaster and popular journalist. In 1955 she became the first woman to receive the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. Pitter's early poems were published in the New Age in 1911. First Poems (1920) appeared with a preface by Hilaire Belloc; her numerous succeeding volumes include Persephone in Hades (1931), A Mad Lady's Garland (1934), The Spirit Watches (1939), The Ermine: Poems 1942–1952 (1953), End of Drought (1975), and Collected Poems (1990) with an introduction by E. Jennings. Much of her verse displays her great accomplishment in complex traditional forms, while elsewhere she writes in more conversationally cadenced modes. While her poetry sometimes exhibits a strong element of social critique, it consistently reveals a celebratory and essentially religious attitude towards experience; her affirmations range from the pure visionary qualities represented by ‘Sudden Heaven’ to the coarser delight memorably expressed in ‘The Rude Potato’.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellis’ [Edith Mary Pargeter] ‘Peters Biography to Portrait of Dora (Portrait de Dora)