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William Ellery Leonard

(1876—1944)


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(1876–1944), New Jersey-born professor of English for many years at the University of Wisconsin. In addition to scholarly works and translations of Lucretius and Beowulf he published a large body of poetry which, though often conventional in form and traditional in diction, is marked by a passionate intensity, and a revelation of personal situations seen psychologically. His first volume, Sonnets and Poems (1906), was followed by The Vaunt of Man (1912); The Lynching Bee (1920), showing his concern with social injustice; Two Lives (1922); Tutankhamen and After (1924); A Son of Earth (1928), selected poems; This Midland City (1930); and A Man Against Time, An Heroic Dream (1945), a sonnet sequence. Two Lives, reprinted (1925) from its private edition, is a sonnet sequence frankly describing his romance with the young woman who became his wife and who killed herself. Red Bird (1923) is a drama of Wisconsin pioneering. He wrote his autobiography, The Locomotive-God (1927), in psychoanalytic terms, describing his “fear of spatial distance from a centre of safety.”

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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