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Dame Helen Gardner (Dame Helen Louise Gardner) Biography

(1908–86), (Dame Helen Louise Gardner), The Art of T. S. Eliot

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Richard Furness Biography to Robert Murray Gilchrist Biography

British scholar, critic, and editor, born in London, educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she taught before becoming Oxford's Merton Professor of English Literature from 1966 until her retirement in 1975. Among her early works was The Art of T. S. Eliot (1949), a subject to which she returned in T. S. Eliot and the English Poetic Tradition (1965) and the highly regarded The Composition of Four Quartets (1978), the first such study to make use of the poet's working drafts. Her editions of Donne's Divine Poems (1952) and Elegies, and Songs and Sonnets (1965) superseded Sir Herbert Grierson's editorial work on Donne's poetry and are unlikely to be surpassed for textual accuracy. Gardner's numerous other critical works include Edwin Muir (1961), King Lear (1967), and Religion and Literature (1971). The Business of Criticism (1959) and In Defence of the Imagination (1982) express her belief in maintaining the humanist traditions of criticism. She is most widely known as the editor of The New Oxford Book of English Verse (1972).

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