Cummings, E.E. (Edward Estlin), 1894-1962

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1894-10-14
Death 1962-09-03
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

E. E. Cummings, a Harvard-educated poet, prose writer, and critic,developed a satirical, modernistic style of poetry that provided him with a substantial level of popularity during his lifetime.

From the description of Correspondence, 1955-1962. (Manchester City Library). WorldCat record id: 30066831

Epithet: writer and painter, called E E Cummings

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001085.0x000137

E.E. (Edward Estlin) Cummings was an American poet born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and educated at Harvard. In his poetry, Cummings used innovations in language, punctuation, and typography. His most acknowledged work is in the collection "Poems 1923-1954". The University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections has a mandate to acquire literary papers.

From the description of E.E. Cummings collection. [1950-1959]. (University of Victoria Libraries). WorldCat record id: 646006381

E. E. Cummings was an American poet.

From the description of Miscellaneous papers by and about E. E. Cummings, 1957-1962. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612198402

From the guide to the E. E. Cummings miscellaneous papers, 1957-1962., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

American author.

From the description of Papers of e. e. cummings [manuscript], circa 1917-1962. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647976424

American poet.

From the description of Typewritten letter signed with initials : New York City, to Dr. Sylvia Heimbach, 1959 Mar. 18. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270539369

From the description of Typewritten letter signed with initials : Silver Lake, N.H. to E. McKnight Kauffer, 1949 July 21. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270539375

From the description of Typewritten letter signed with initials : New York City, to Miss Charlotte Brandon Howe, 1959 Mar. 11. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270539372

Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1894. While at Harvard, he delivered a daring commencement address on modernist artistic innovations, thus announcing the direction his own work would take. In 1917, after working briefly for a mail-order publishing company, the only regular employment in his career, Cummings volunteered to serve in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance group in France. Here he and a friend were imprisoned (on false grounds) for three months in a French detention camp. The Enormous Room (1922), his witty and absorbing account of the experience, was also the first of his literary attacks on authoritarianism. Eimi (1933), a later travel journal, focused with much less successful results on the collectivized Soviet Union. At the end of the First World War Cummings went to Paris to study art. On his return to New York in 1924 he found himself a celebrity, both for The Enormous Room and for Tulips and Chimneys (1923), his first collection of poetry. A roving assignment from Vanity Fair in 1926 allowed Cummings to travel again and to establish his lifelong routine: painting in the afternoons and writing at night. In 1931 he published a collection of drawings and paintings, and over the next three decades had many individual shows in New York. He enjoyed a long and happy marriage to the photographer Marion Morehouse, with whom he collaborated on Adventures in Value (1962), and in later life divided his time between their apartment in New York and his family's farm in New Hampshire. Cummings died of cerebral hemorrhage on September 3, 1962, in North Conway.

From the description of Phil Kaplan collection of E.E. Cummings, 1924-1981. (Southern Illinois University). WorldCat record id: 288712378

E.E. Cummings was an American author and painter known for his innovative verse. Born in Cambridge, he proved to be a precocious poet, writing a poem a day from the time he was eight years old. After graduating from Harvard, he began concentrating on poetry, taking time to serve in World War I. He published miscellaneous prose pieces and exhibited paintings, but he was mainly known for his acerbic, experimental poems, characterized by their singular structure and syntax. The playfulness of his distinctive avant-garde verse caught the public imagination, and he became both a popular and iconic modern poet.

From the description of E.E. Cummings letter, galley, and pamphlet, 1947. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 61104030

Cummings was an American poet.

From the description of Letters to Elizabeth Cummings Qualey, 1917-1963. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 122574996

From the description of Additional papers, 1917-1962 and undated. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612876534

From the description of Additional drawings, 1938-1947 and undated. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 84507106

From the description of Drawings, undated. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77818384

From the description of E. E. Cummings letters to Frances Ames Randall, 1953-1962. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612206509

From the description of Papers, 1870-1969. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 122575028

From the guide to the E. E. Cummings additional drawings, 1938-1947 and undated., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the guide to the Additional papers, 1922-1955 and undated., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the guide to the E. E. Cummings letters to Elizabeth Cummings Qualey, 1917-1963., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the guide to the E. E. Cummings papers, 1870-1969., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the guide to the E. E. Cummings letters to Frances Ames Randall, 1953-1961., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the guide to the Additional papers, 1917-1962 and undated., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the guide to the Letters to Alfred Rice, 1949-1961., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the guide to the E. E. Cummings drawings, undated., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the description of Additional papers, 1922-1955 and undated. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 81360150

Cummings was an American poet. Moorehouse was his third wife and was a model, actress, and photographer.

From the description of E.E. Cummings additional papers, 1870-1969. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612796579

From the guide to the E. E. Cummings additional papers, 1870-1969., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

Edward Estlin Cummings was an American poet, novelist, playwright and essayist.

From the description of E. E. Cummings collection of papers, 1916-1962 bulk (1939-1959). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122533675

From the guide to the E. E. Cummings collection of papers, 1916-1962, 1939-1959, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

Cummings was an American poet. Alfred Rice was Cummins attorney.

From the description of Letters to Alfred Rice, 1949-1961. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 78280377

Edward Estlin Cummings (1894-1962) was brought up in a conservative Cambridge, Massachusetts, home. His father, with degrees in both philosophy and divinity, taught at Harvard University until 1900 when he received ordination by the Unitarian Church and became a pastor at the South Congregational Church of Boston.

According to family diaries, Cummings wanted to be a poet from an early age. He was supported in this ambition by his mother who made up word games and other activities to encourage his creativity. Cummings attended public schools, including the Cambridge High and Latin School, prior to entering Harvard in 1911. While there, he concentrated in the classics, including Latin, Greek, and literature, and he mastered the various forms of poetry, gaining the foundation he needed in order to begin the experimentation with poetic form and shape that became his trademark. While at Harvard, Cummings published poetry in the Harvard Monthly and the Harvard Advocate. Through these organizations he became acquainted with S. Foster Damon, Stewart Mitchell, John Dos Passos, Scofield Thayer, and J. Sibley Watson. These friends would encourage and support Cummings through much of his artistic career.

Cummings earned his BA from Harvard in 1915, magna cum laude, like his father before him, and was invited to speak at the commencement ceremony. He presented a term paper on The New Art. This paper demonstrated Cummings' affinity with the modern artistic sensibility, especially his interest in the overlap between the visual arts and literature, a keystone in his distinctive typographical style.

After finishing his Master's degree, also from Harvard, in 1916, Cummings moved to New York City in January of 1917. He worked at P. F. Collier for a few weeks, but became bored and quit, deciding instead to pursue the freedom of life as a full-time artist and poet. In April, he volunteered for the Norton-Hajes Ambulance Service and shipped out for France. On the trip he met William Slater Brown and their friendship was cemented by an unexpected five weeks of free time in Paris awaiting the rest of their ambulance unit.

Several months later, events took a defining turn for Cummings when he and Brown were detained by the French military on suspicion of espionage and undesirable activities. As a result of censor-provoking letters home by Brown and a preference for the company of French soldiers over their fellow American ambulance drivers, the two young men were held for three months in a concentration camp at La Ferté Mace. They were kept, along with their fellow detainees, in a large room which was represented in the title of Cummings' book about this experience, The Enormous Room (1922). Cummings' father worked through diplomatic channels and finally wrote a letter to President Wilson to obtain Cummings' release in December 1917. Brown was released two months later.

Cummings returned to the United States, first to his parents' home in Massachusetts and then to New York, where he was joined by Brown. For the next several years, Cummings painted and wrote. In 1924, he married Elaine Orr Thayer, the mother of his daughter Nancy. They divorced after two months and in 1929, Cummings married Anne Minnerly Barton. They spent much of the next two years living and traveling in Europe.

In 1931, Cummings left Barton and traveled to the Soviet Union. Pre-disposed to enjoy the trip, Cummings found his personal sense of individualism disturbed by the lack of intellectual and artistic freedom that he found. He published his diary from the trip under the Greek title Eimi (1933), which translates to I am.

In 1932, while his divorce from Barton was being settled, Cummings met Marion Morehouse, who was to be his companion and common law wife for the rest of his life. In 1933, Cummings received the Guggenheim Fellowship for the purpose of writing a book of poems. In 1935, unable to find a publisher for his book, he published No Thanks (1935) with the help of his mother. It was dedicated to the fourteen publishing houses that had turned him down.

E. E. Cummings continued to produce a steady stream of poems and publications throughout the forties and fifties. In 1952, Harvard offered him the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship for the 1952-53 school year. Also during the fifties, Cummings began to tour, reading his poetry across America. In 1958, he won the Bollingen Prize for Poetry from Yale University and published his final volume of new poems, 95 Poems.

He died at his family farm on September 3, 1962.

From the guide to the E. E. Cummings Collection TXRC98-A2., 1902-1968, (Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin)

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Subjects:

  • Young adult poetry
  • Authors and publishers
  • American poetry
  • World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, American
  • Art, American
  • Poets, American--20th century
  • Fairy tales
  • Rheumatoid arthritis--Treatment
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Publishers and publishing--20th century
  • Art--Exhibitions
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • World War, 1914-1918--Poetry
  • Drawing--20th century
  • Painting--20th century
  • American literature--20th century
  • Literature
  • Finance, Personal
  • Children's poetry, American
  • Hospital patients--Humor
  • Poets, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Authors and publishers--20th century
  • American poetry--20th century
  • American poetry--19th century

Occupations:

  • Poets
  • Literary agents

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • New York (as recorded)
  • Rocky Mountains (as recorded)
  • France (as recorded)
  • Paris (France) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Silver Lake (N.H.) (as recorded)
  • France (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Mount Wilson Wilderness (Ariz.) (as recorded)