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Harriet Monroe

1860-1936 Harriet Monroe - Photo from Vanity Fair August 1920
  • Poet and literary critic.
  • A participant in several Sierra Club outings, Harriet met John Muir, and wrote A tribute to John Muir in 1916.
  • Sierra Club Secretary William E. Colby wrote the following memorial to Harriet Monroe in the Sierra Club Bulletin for February, 1937:
    "The many friends of Harriet Monroe will, I know, appreciate information as to her death, which occurred in Peru, September 26, 1936. Miss Monroe went with the Sierra Club on several of its early outings. She was most enthusiastic in her fondness for the Sierra and wrote several beautiful poems as a result of this inspiration. On the 1908 outing she wrote a poetic idyll, having for its main thought the friendliness of all out-door life toward John Muir, who was also with the Club on that trip. This was enacted at the campfire one never-to-be-forgotten night and John Muir was induced, very much against his wishes, to take part in the out-of-door drama. Miss Monroe was a strong supporter of what the Sierra Club was endeavoring to accomplish and appeared before committees in Congress to urge important measures. In 1912 she inaugurated publication of the Poetry magazine in Chicago, the city in which she was born and lived. Many predicted failure, but Poetry has become one of the outstanding publications of verse and has survived all these years. Much has been written in eulogy of her full life, but the opening lines of "Requiem for H.M." by John Gould Fletcher seem most appropriate to us of the Sierra Club:
           Where rise the mountains, condor-haunted,
           To this height,
           In a far land, by death undaunted,
           She has slipped away to night."
  • A noted poet, Harriet Monroe founded Poetry Magazine in 1912. From the outset, Poetry magazine raised the visibility and status of poetry in America. The journal published and promoted the careers of a galaxy of poets including T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes, Carl Sandburg, Rabindranath Tagore, and Vachel Lindsay, among many others. According to the University of Chicago, "Poetry magazine transformed the way that poetry and poets are recognized and read worldwide, and it continues to flourish as a major cultural influence." Her own works include several volumes of poetry; her essays Poets and Their Art (1933); the anthology she compiled with Alice Corbin Henderson, The New Poetry (1917); and her autobiography, A Poet's Life (1938).
Photo of Harriet Monroe by Eva Watson Schutze from Vanity Fair, August 1920, courtesy of Yale University Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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