Miles, Josephine, 1911-1985Variant names
Noted poet, literary scholar and teacher. Member of the faculty of the Dept. of English at the University of California, Berkeley, 1952-1978.
From the description of Josephine Miles papers, 1911-1986. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 122514475
American author; d. 1985.
From the description of Papers, 1957-1968. (Washington University in St. Louis). WorldCat record id: 26090013
Josephine Miles was born in Chicago on June 11, 1911 to Reginald Odber and Josephine Lackner Miles. Her father was of British ancestory and traced his decendants to the Mayflower; her mother migrated as a child from Germany and graduated from the University of Chicago. Josephine had two brothers, Richard B. and John O. Miles. Born with a dislocated hip that did not receive proper treatment, she suffered from severely crippling rheumatoid arthritis. When the arthritis worsened a couple of years later, the family moved to southern California. Josephine's grammar school career was so haphazard, she credited her mother with teaching her to read and write.
Miles graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA in 1932, and received her M.A. (1934) and Ph.D. (1938) from UC, Berkeley. At the age of twenty five, she won her first national prize for poetry, the Shelley Award, and her first book, Lines at Intersection was accepted for publication by Macmillan and Company. Miss Miles joined the English Department at UC Berkeley in 1940, won tenure in 1947, and was appointed University Professor in 1972. She was the first, and for many years the only, woman on the department faculty.
"Jo" Miles was one of the early architects of the Department of English's current curriculum, particularly in composition. Her "Prose Improvement Project" during the 1950s brought English Dept. teaching assistants together with those of 15 other departments in a broad effort to improve undergraduate's writing all over the campus. Her students have published more than 50 volumes of poems and won at least two national book awards. Miles methods helped form the Bay Area Writing Project, later renamed the California Writing Project, which trains teachers how best to teach writing.
Throughout her career, Miss Miles received many awards and much recognition, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1948. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science in 1964, and selected by her colleagues to fill the prestigious post of faculty research lecturer in 1975-76. In 1977, a committee of the Academic Senate gave her a distinguished teaching award. Collected Poems, 1930-1983, won The Nation magazine's Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the book was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. In 1984, Miss Miles was the first writer to be honored by the Bay Area Book Reviewers with the Fred Cody Award for lifetime achievement.
Even after her retirement in 1978, Miles' home on Virginia Street, just north of the campus, remained a center of literary activity and many came to see the teacher, poet, and intensely involved member of the university community. Josephine Miles died of pneumonia at her home in Berkeley on May 12, 1985, at the age of 73.
From the guide to the Josephine Miles Papers, 1911-1986, (The Bancroft Library.)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Women poets, American--20th century|
|Women college teachers--Biography|
|Poetry, Modern--20th century|
|Poets, American--20th century|