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H.D.
H. D. (Hilda Doolittle)
n.d.
H. D. Papers

 

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The Imagist poet Hilda Doolittle became involved with modernist writing while still a teenager. At the age of fifteen, Doolittle met Ezra Pound; a few years later, in 1911 she followed him to England, where she quickly joined his circle of young writers and artists. The following year, it was Pound who “created” the poet “H.D.” when, without her knowledge, he signed her poems “H.D., Imagiste,” before sending them to Poetry editor Harriet Monroe. From that point forward, H.D. was associated with Imagism, a poetic movement that emphasized economy of language and rejected traditional verse forms. Doolittle, however, resisted the label, finding it too limiting to include the range of her poetic ambition.

Around 1919, H.D. met Winnifred Ellerman, a young heiress and writer known as Bryher. Their friendship, romance, and creative collaboration lasted for the rest of their lives. The women traveled extensively together, including trips to Greece, a landscape and culture that were extremely important to H.D. In the early 1920s, they went to Paris. In spite of the city’s thriving community of expatriate American writers, H.D. never quite felt comfortable there; “She thought of herself as shabby and awkward, even old among the younger shining bobbed heads,” a biographer wrote.1 H.D. resided in Europe for the rest of her life, alternating between periods in London, Paris, and Switzerland.

1 Barbara Guest, Herself Defined: The Poet H.D. and Her World, Garden City: Doubleday, 1984, p. 159.

 

 

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