Hugo, Richard, 1923-1982

Alternative names
Birth 1923-12-21
Death 1982-10-22

Biographical notes:

Richard Hugo (1923-1982), American poet.

From the description of Richard Hugo collection, 1972-1982. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702183549

Richard Hugo was born in 1923 in Seattle, Washington. He was raised by his grandparents in White Center, Washington. He served in the Army Air Corps in World War II. After the war, he attended the University of Washington, where he earned his B.A. in 1948 and his M.A in 1952 and was a student of Theodore Roethke. He worked as a technical writer for the Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle. His first book of poetry, A Run of Jacks, was published in 1961; it was followed by another, Death of Kapowsin Tavern, in 1965. In 1963 he resigned his position at Boeing, and went with his wife Barbara Williams (whom he married in 1951) to Italy for a year. On returning to the United States, he was offered a position teaching creative writing at the University of Montana, where he would become head of that program. He also taught at the University of Washington and the University of Iowa. He published The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir (1973), What Thou Lovest Well Remains American (1975), 31 Letters and 13 Dreams (1977), White Center (1980) and The Right Madness on Skye (1980). After his divorce from Barbara Williams in 1965, he married Ripley Schamm in 1974. By the end of his life Hugo had accumulated many prizes and awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation creative writing grant, and the Theodore Roethke Memorial Prize. He died of leukemia in 1982.

From the guide to the Papers, [ca. 1960s], (University of Montana--Missoula Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections)

Richard Hugo was an American author, respected as both a poet and an educator. Born in Washington as Richard Hogan, he was raised by his maternal grandparents after his parents' his first collection of poems in 1961; several further collections followed, as well as a book of autobiographical essays and a respected book on writing. Hugo was considered a regional poet, but attained a national audience through his technical prowess and his rugged yet emotionally charged images.

From the description of Richard Hugo letters and related materials, 1979-1980. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 162135880

Richard Hugo was born December 21, 1923 in Seattle and was raised in White Center, a working class district of Seattle. Hugo lived with his grandparents for most of his childhood and early adult life. He served as a bombardier in Italy during World War II. Following the war, Hugo attended the University of Washington, where he studied writing with Theodore Roethke. He earned a BA in 1948 and a MA in 1952. In 1959 Hugo, along with Carolyn Kizer, Earl Pritchard and Nelson Bentley, founded the literary magazine Poetry Northwest .

While continuing to write poetry, Hugo supported himself for 13 years by working for the Boeing Aircraft Company in various jobs, including that of a technical writer. In 1963 he left Boeing to revisit Italy. He returned to the United States in 1964 to accept a teaching position at the University of Montana, where he became Director of the Creative Writing Program in 1971, and where he continued to teach until his death.

During the last two decades of his life, Hugo's reputation as a writer grew with the publication of nine collections of poetry, three chapbooks, a collection of essays and a detective novel. He was twice nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1968, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded him a traveling grant which allowed him to revisit Italy. In 1976 he was appointed editor of the Yale Younger Poets Series. In 1977 Hugo received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, which allowed him to live in Scotland from 1977-1978. At various times he was a guest lecturer at the University of Iowa, University of Arkansas, University of Colorado, and University of Washington. Hugo survived the loss of a lung to cancer in 1980, but died of leukemia in Seattle on October 22, 1982.

Posthumous publications of Hugo's work include a chapbook, Sea Lanes Out ; collected poems, Making Certain It Goes On ; and a collection of autobiographical essays, The Real West Marginal Way .

From the guide to the Richard Hugo papers and other materials, 1942-1985, 1973-1982, (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)


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  • Literature
  • Arts and Humanities
  • American literature--20th century
  • Creative writing (Higher education)--Montana--Missoula
  • Poets, American--20th century
  • American poetry--20th century
  • Montana
  • College teachers--Montana--Missoula
  • Poets, American--Washington (State)--Archives
  • American poetry--Northwest, Pacific
  • American poetry--Montana
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Poets, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Publishers and Publishing
  • American poetry--Northwestern States
  • Authors and publishers--United States--20th century
  • Poetry--Study and teaching
  • Poets, American--Montana--Archives


  • Authors
  • Poets
  • College teachers
  • Poets, American--Montana--Missoula


  • Northwest, Pacific (as recorded)