| Hilda Doolittle is known for her imagist verse
and, later, her use of themes of mythology. Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
Doolittle attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania but did not graduate.
During her time there she met American poets William Carlos Williams and
Ezra Pound, both of whom would later influence her work. In 1911 Doolittle
moved to Europe, where she would spend most of her life. She renewed her
friendship with Pound, and in 1912 Pound submitted several of Doolittle's
poems, signed under the name "H.D., Imagiste," to the magazine Poetry;
Doolittle adopted the initials as her pen name. She became involved with
a group of imagist writers in England, and in 1913 Doolittle married English
poet Richard Aldington. Her verse from this period, which includes the volume
Sea Garden (1916) is characterized by short, precise lines in extremely
By 1919 Doolittle's marriage had failed, her brother had been killed in World War I (1914-1918), and her father had died. That same year she became pregnant and almost died of illness. She also met English novelist Winifred Ellerman (who wrote under the pen name "Bryher") and formed a lifelong relationship with her. The two traveled to Greece, Egypt, Paris, and the United States over the next few years, during which Doolittle's books Hymen (1921), Heliodora and Other Poems (1924), Collected Poems of H.D. (1925), and Red Roses for Bronze (1931) were published. In 1933 and 1934 Doolittle spent time in Vienna, Austria, undergoing psychoanalysis with Austrian psychotherapist Sigmund Freud and exploring the role that images play in disguising meanings.
By the time World War II had begun in 1939, Doolittle had abandoned imagism and had begun to embrace mythic, psychologically oriented subjects, often dealing with themes of war. Her works of this time include the trilogy The Walls Do Not Fall (1944), Tribute to the Angels (1945), and The Flowering of the Rod (1946); and the long poem Helen in Egypt (1961). She continued writing poetry until her death. Doolittle's other works include the novels Palimpsest (1926), Hedylus (1928), and HERmione (published posthumously 1981, written in 1926-1927); Paint it Today (written in 1929, published posthumously); Asphodel (written in the 1920s, published posthumously); the autobiographical Tribute to Freud (1956); and a memoir of Ezra Pound, End to Torment (published posthumously, 1979).
*"Doolittle, Hilda," Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia.© 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Addendum by moi