Jeanette S. Untermeyer

From Ohio History Central

Jeanette Starr Untermeyer was an important twentieth century American poet.

Jeanette Starr was born in 1886 in Zanesville, Ohio. At the age of seventeen, Starr moved to New York and enrolled in Columbia University. She met and fell in love with Louis Untermeyer. The couple married in 1907, but their relationship was unstable. They divorced, remarried, and divorced again. Their only child -- a son -- died in 1927, while attending Yale University.

The Untermeyers became two of America's most prominent poets during the early 1900s. Literary figures including Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, and Ezra Pound visited the couple at their home in New York City. At her husband's urging, Jeanette, preferring to be called Jean, published her first collection of poetry, Growing Pains, in 1918. She published several other poetry collections, including Dreams Out of Darkness (1921), Steep Ascent (1927), and Love and Need (1940). She also was a reviewer for The New York Times and other magazines and newspapers. During the 1930s and 1940s, Untermeyer served as a lecturer at Olivet College in Michigan and at a number of other institutions. During the 1920s, Untermeyer also attempted a singing career in Germany, but it was unsuccessful.

Untermeyer remained an active poet until her death in July 1970. She bequeathed her writings and personal papers to Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in honor of her deceased son.

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