Elizabeth Jennings Biography
(1926–2001), A Way of Looking, The Mind Has Mountains, Moments of Grace, Extending the Territory
British poet, born in Boston, Lincolnshire, educated at St Anne's College, Oxford. Before becoming a freelance writer in 1961, she worked as an assistant at the Oxford City Library and as a publisher's reader. Her first substantial collection of poetry, A Way of Looking (1956), was followed by numerous subsequent volumes including The Mind Has Mountains (1966), Moments of Grace (1979), Extending the Territory (1985), Collected Poems 1953–1985 (1986), Tributes (1989), Times and Seasons (1992), and Familiar Spirits (1994). Jennings's technical accomplishment, together with the restrained urbanity and intelligence characteristic of her work, gained her inclusion in Robert Conquest's New Lines anthology of 1956; she thus became associated with the Movement, although the metaphysical preoccupations evident in her poetry were not among that group's distinguishing traits. Much of her writing combines visionary intensity and meditative poise in its concern with the religious dimensions of her experience. She has produced a number of memorable poems drawing on the lives of Christian mystics, which include treatments of St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila. Among her prose works are Every Changing Shape (1961) and Christianity and Poetry (1965), which consider relations between mysticism, religion, and poetry. In 1961 her translations of The Sonnets of Michelangelo were published. She has also edited numerous anthologies, including The Batsford Book of Religious Verse (1981), and published books of poetry for children.