Taggard, Genevieve, 1894-1948Variant names
Genevieve Taggard was an editor, educator, and author. Born in Washington, Taggard was raised in Hawaii by missionary parents; after graduating from The University of California at Berkeley, she settled in New York and began publishing poems. Her verse was well-received by her peers and is notable for its vivid imagery. She also wrote an important, albeit superseded, biography of Emily Dickinson. She later worked with composers, writing poems for musical settings. She was a self-described socialist, and some of her poetry reflects her social beliefs.
From the description of Genevieve Taggard letter to Francis Gahan, 1936 Dec. 7. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 56342114
Genevieve Irene Taggard (1894-1948) was born on November 28, 1894 in Waitsburg, Washington. Her parents, Alta Gail Taggard and James Nelson Taggard, were both school teachers and missionaries of the Campbellite sect. At the age of two, she moved with her family to Hawaii, where she studied at the Punahou Preparatory School. She was the oldest of three siblings, with a sister, Ernestine, and brother, Norman. In 1910 the family returned to Waitsburg, where Genevieve attended high school and was an editor for the school paper. In 1912 the family briefly returned to Hawaii.
Taggard entered the University of California at Berkeley in 1914, and her mother operated a boarding house there to provide income for the family. She graduated in 1919 and served as editor at the student literary journal, The Occident, from 1918 to 1920. During that time she began moving in the Socialist literary circles of San Francisco. In June of 1920 Taggard moved to New York, where she worked for the publishing house of modernist B.W. Huebsch (founder of The Freeman) and helped found and edit the journal The Measure: A Journal of Verse with Maxwell Anderson and Padraic Colum. She was an editor at The Measure until 1926 and active in the Greenwich Village radical bohemian literary scene. Although primarily concerned with domestic issues at that time, Taggard considered herself a Socialist. Many of her poems protested social injustice, and she became affiliated with organizations on the political left. She remained closely associated with the Communist Party throughout her adult life.
On March 21, 1921, Taggard married fellow writer Robert L. Wolf, with whom she had a daughter, Mary Alta (Marcia) Wolf, born December 13, 1921. She returned to California for several years, living in and around San Francisco until 1923, when she returned east to New Preston, Connecticut. In 1926 she moved back to New York City. Taggard's first book of verse, For Eager Lovers, was published in 1922 and was praised by many critics, including Edmund Wilson, but she failed to gain widespread recognition until another collection of poems, Traveling Standing Still, was published in 1928.
Taggard published numerous books of poetry, including Hawaiian Hilltop (1923), Words for the Chisel (1926), Monologue for Mothers (1929), Remembering Vaughan in New England (1933), Not Mine to Finish (1934), Calling Western Union (1936), Collected Poems: 1918-1938 (1938), Long View (1942), Falcon (1942), A Part of Vermont (1945), Slow Music (1946) and Origin: Hawaii (1947). She also edited May Days: An Anthology of Verse from the Masses and the Liberator (1925) and Circumference: Varieties of Metaphysical Verse (1929). Her poems, essays, short stories, reviews, and criticism were published in numerous journals, including: Asia, The Bookman, New Republic, Voices, The Dial, Poetry, The Nation, The Masses, Literary Digest, Century Magazine, Harper's, The Lyric West, The Measure: A Journal of Poetry, Christian Science Monitor, The Saturday Review and The Liberator. The work for which she is best known, however, is a biography, The Life and Mind of Emily Dickinson, first published in 1930 and reprinted in 1934.
In the 1930s Taggard became a contributing editor of the Marxist journal The New Masses, in which she published poems, reviews, and articles. Her poetry during this time explored political subject matter, including race and class prejudice, labor strikes, and the elitism of poetry as a practice. Her political views are expressed in poems in Calling Western Union, which concern marble workers in Vermont, and Falcon, which celebrate the heroism of the Soviet people.
From 1931 to 1932 Taggard held a Guggenheim Fellowship which enabled her to live and write in Capri and Mallorca, accompanied by her daughter and sister. She was divorced from Robert L. Wolf in 1934 and married Kenneth Durant the next year, on March 10, 1935. They remained married until her death. In addition to writing, Taggard was also a teacher. She taught courses in poetry and writing at Mount Holyoke College (1929-1931), Bennington College (1932-1935) and at Sarah Lawrence College (1935-1946). In 1946, she retired from teaching and moved permanently to Gilfeather, her home in Vermont. From 1946 to 1948 she served on the editorial board of the Young People's Record Club.
Taggard was interested in both radio and musical performances as forums for poetry, and on many occasions read her poems over the air and wrote for music. On April 13, 1943, her poem "Lark," set to music by Aaron Copland, was performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Taggard's poems have been translated into many foreign languages and set to music not only by Copland but also by William Schuman, Roy Harris, and Henry Leland Clarke.
Genevieve Taggard died in New York City of complications from high blood pressure on November 8, 1848, just before her fifty-fourth birthday.
From the guide to the Genevieve Taggard papers, 1881-2001, 1920-1948, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|American literature--Study and teaching|
|American literature--20th century|
|Poetry--Study and teaching|
|Poets, American--19th century--Biography|
|American poetry--20th century|
|Poets, American--20th century--Correspondence|
|Women authors--20th century--Correspondence|