Robin Lampson (1900-1978) is best remembered for his verse novels, "Laughter out of the ground" (1936)--an epic of the California Gold Rush--and "Death loses a pair of wings" (1939)--the tale of Dr. William Gorgas' victory over yellow fever. In the years immediately following World War I, Lampson studied English and Russian at Stanford University. In 1922 he was sent to Russia with the American Relief Administration. There he administered the distribution of food relief in the vicinity of Tashkent for about two years. Following his return to the United States, Lampson worked at a variety of jobs, eventually returning to college at the University of California, where he received an A.B. degree in 1932. From this date, his poetry began appearing with some frequency in literary journals. As a poet, Lampson was a neo-classicist, preferring rhyming sonnet structures to free verse. He invented a sonnet type that borrowed rhyme-schemes from Renaissance Italian terza rima.
Following the publication of his best-selling "Laughter out of the ground," Lampson wrote literary criticism and produced radio programs for San Francisco Bay area outlets. He also became an adjunct English instructor at the University of California (1937-1941). During these years he researched and wrote most of his extended works on themes drawn from California history, including The Mending of a Continent (1937) and San Francisco Souvenir (1938). He seems to have contemplated a work on the William Sharon-Althea Hill relationship, although no such poem was ever completed. Beginning in the 1930s Lampson also operated a stamp shop in Richmond, California.
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