H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), 1886-1961

Alternative names
Birth 1886-09-19
Death 1961-09-27

Biographical notes:

Hilda Doolittle was born in Bethlehem, Pa., in 1886. Doolittle made a name for herself as a poet, playwright and novelist. As an admirer of Ezra Pound, Doolittle established herself as part of the Imagist genre and was married to one of its leading exponents, Richard Aldington.

From the description of Letter, [between 1921 and 1931]. (Temple University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 122541829

Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961), American poet, published as H. D. at the suggestion of Ezra Pound.

From the description of H. D. Papers, 1887-1977. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702134098

1886 September 10. H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) born to Charles Leander Doolittle (Professor of Astronomy at Lehigh University) and Helen Wolle Doolittle (a Moravian) in Bethlehem, Pa.

1886-1905. Early years in Bethlehem; attends Moravian schools.

1895. Moves to Upper Darby, Pa.; Charles Leander Doolittle becomes Professor of Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Flower Observatory.

1901-1902. Attends Miss Elizabeth Gordon's School in West Philadelphia (8th grade).

1901 October. Meets Ezra Pound at the Burd School in Philadelphia.

1902-1905. Attends Friend's Central School in Philadelphia.

1905 April. Meets William Carlos Williams at a dinner hosted by Ezra Pound.

1905 June 16. At graduation from Friend's Central School H.D. is the first student commencement speaker, her topic being "The Poet's Influence."

1905 October-1907 January. Attends Bryn Mawr College, as a day student for three semesters; withdraws apparently due to ill health and failing grades; meets Marianne Moore.

1905-1908. Becomes engaged, then disengaged to Ezra Pound at least twice.

1908-1909. Enrolls in the college course for teachers at the University of Pennsylvania.

1910-1912. First prose publications in syndicated papers and Presbyterian papers.

1910. Meets Frances Josepha Gregg; writes first poems based on Theocritus to Gregg.

1910 Winter. Lives in New York City at Patchin Place.

1911. Departs for Europe with Frances Gregg and Gregg's mother; spends summer in Paris.

1911 Fall. Takes up residence in London, where Ezra Pound lives; meets May Sinclair, Violet Hunt, Brigit Patmore, and Richard Aldington.

1912 September. British Museum tea shop episode; Pound edits three of H.D.'s poems in accordance with the Imagist principles, they are signed "H.D. Imagiste," and Pound sends them to Harriet Monroe in Chicago for POETRY.

1913 January. First publication of H.D.'s poems: "Hermes of the Ways", "Epigram", and "Priapus" appear in POETRY: A MAGAZINE OF VERSE.

1913 October 18. H.D. and Richard Aldington married.

1914. DES IMAGISTES: AN ANTHOLOGY published; includes poems by H.D., Aldington, Pound, and others.

1914 Summer. Beginning of continuing friendships with Amy Lowell, John Cournos, F. S. Flint, and D. H. and Frieda Lawrence.


1915. Receives "Guarantors Prize" from POETRY: A MAGAZINE OF VERSE.

1915 Spring. Birth of Aldington's child; a girl, stillborn.

1916. SEA GARDEN published.

1916 Spring-1917. After the enlistment of Aldington, H.D. substitutes for him as assistant editor of THE EGOIST.


1917. Receives "Vers Libre Prize" from THE LITTLE REVIEW.

1917. Amy Lowell publishes first critical assessment, in book form, of H.D.'s poetry in TENDENCIES IN MODERN POETRY.

1917 December. Aldington sent to the front in France.

1917-1918. Events occur which H.D. later wrote about in "Madrigal" (published as BID ME TO LIVE): D. H. and Frieda Lawrence are sheltered in the Aldington's rooms; has an affair with Cecil Gray and goes to stay with him at Bosigran Castle in Cornwall, where she becomes pregnant.

1918 July 17. Bryher (Annie Winifred Ellerman) calls on H.D. at Bosigran Castle, beginning the relationship which lasted until H.D.'s death.

1919. Sees Havelock Ellis.

1919 March 31. Birth of Frances Perdita Aldington; H.D. recovers from an attack of influenza.

1919 April. H.D. and Aldington are permanently separated.

1919 July. H.D. and Bryher in Cornwall; H.D. has "jelly-fish" and "bell jar" experiences later described in NOTES ON THOUGHTS AND VISION.

1920 Spring. H.D. and Bryher travel in Greece and Crete.

1920 September-1921 February. H.D., with Bryher and Perdita, returns to America; spends four months in California; has reunions with William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore; meets Robert McAlmon, whom Bryher marries.

1921. HYMEN published.

1922-1939. H.D. and Bryher maintain residences in Switzerland and London and travel to France, Italy, Germany and Austria.

1922. H.D. and Helen Wolle Doolittle go to Greece, stopping briefly on the island of Lesbos.

1923 February or March. H.D., Bryher, and Helen Wolle Doolittle travel to Luxor, Egypt.


1925. COLLECTED POEMS OF H.D. published.

1926. PALIMPSEST published.

1926. Meets and falls in love with Kenneth Macpherson.


1927 February. Makes film debut in Kenneth Macpherson's WING BEAT, appears in FOOTHILLS the same year.

1927 June. Bryher divorces Robert McAlmon.

1927 July-1929 December. Articles on film published in CLOSE UP, the magazine founded by Bryher and Macpherson.

1927 September. Bryher marries Macpherson.

1928. HEDYLUS published.

1928 May 11. Perdita adopted by Bryher and Kenneth Macpherson.

1929. RED ROSES FOR BRONZE (poem) published as part of the POETRY QUARTOS.

1930-1931. Kenwin built in the foothills above Lake Geneva at Burier-la- Tour.

1930. BORDERLINE filmed, starring H.D. and Paul Robeson.

1931. RED ROSES FOR BRONZE published.

1931 April. Begins analysis with Mary Chadwick.

1931 November. Has a few psychoanalytic sessions with Hanns Sachs, Bryher's analyst.

1932 Spring. H.D. and Perdita take a Hellenic cruise.

1933 March 1-June 12. In Vienna, in analysis with Sigmund Freud.

1934. KORA AND KA and THE USUAL STAR published.

1934 October 31-December. Resumes analysis with Freud in Vienna.

1935. NIGHTS published.

1935. Bryher purchases LIFE AND LETTERS TO-DAY; over the years many of H.D.'s poems and prose writings, including "Writing on the Wall" and BY AVON RIVER, are first published there.

1936. THE HEDGEHOG published.

1937. EURIPIDES ION published.

1937 December-1938 January. H.D. and Bryher in New York; meet Norman Holmes Pearson.

1938. Receives the "Helen Haire Levinson Prize" from POETRY: A MAGAZINE OF VERSE.

1938 June 22. Receives final decree of divorce from Aldington.

1939 November-1946 May. In London.

1943 April 14. Joins other poets in a reading at Aeolian Hall in aid of the French in Great Britain Fund.

1944. WHAT DO I LOVE and THE WALLS DO NOT FALL published.

1945. TRIBUTE TO THE ANGELS published.

1946. THE FLOWERING OF THE ROD published.

1946 Spring. Has major breakdown.

1946 May. Taken to Klinik Küsnacht, near Zürich, Switzerland; remains there until the fall.

1946 Fall-1956 Spring. Resides primarily in hotels in Switzerland, alternating seasonally between Lausanne and Lugano.

1949. BY AVON RIVER published.

1950 June. Perdita marries John Schaffner in Maine.

1951 February 21. Valentine Schaffner born.

1951 April. Visits New York to see her grandson.

1953 January-March. At the Clinique Cecile in Lausanne for operation.

1953 January 28. Nicholas Schaffner born.

1953 April. Visits New York.

1953 June. Returns to Clinique Cecile for another operation.

1953 July-1954 June. In Küsnacht at the Klinik Brunner; meets Erich Heydt.

1956 TRIBUTE TO FREUD published.

1956 June 29. Elizabeth Bryher Schaffner born.

1956 September-October. In New York; travels to New Haven for an exhibition at Yale's Sterling Memorial Library honoring her seventieth birthday; visits Bethlehem with Bryher and Norman Holmes Pearson.

1956 November. Breaks her hip at Küsnacht.

1957. SELECTED POEMS OF H.D. published.

1957 Spring-1961 Winter. Resides primarily at the Klinik Brunner in Küsnacht.

1958. Receives the "Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize."

1959. Receives the "Brandeis University Creative Arts Award for Poetry."

1960. BID ME TO LIVE published.

1960. Receives citation for distinguished service to Bryn Mawr College, the "Longview Award," and is the first woman to receive the "Award of Merit Medal for Poetry" of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

1960. Timothy Schaffner born.

1960 May-June. Visits New York.

1960 May 25. Attends the annual ceremony of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

1961. HELEN IN EGYPT published.

1961 Winter. Klinik Brunner closes; Moves to the Hotel Sonnenburg in Zürich.

1961 July. Suffers a stroke and is taken to the Klinik Hirslanden.

1961 September 27. Dies at the Klinik Hirslanden.

1961 October 28. H.D.'s ashes are buried at Nisky Hill Cemetery, Bethlehem, Pa.

From the guide to the H. D. Papers, 1887-1977, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


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Ark ID:


  • Psychoanalysis
  • Women and psychoanalysis
  • Poets, American--20th century
  • Modernism (Literature)
  • Women
  • Moravians
  • Poetry, Modern--20th century
  • Imagist poetry
  • Literature, English--20th century


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