Writer's Life: Adrienne Rich

March 02, 1997

Rich was born in Baltimore in 1929. Both her parents, her father, a Jewish doctor and mother a Christian musician, were ambitious, prodding Rich into a writing career at a very young age. By the time she was 12 she had written plays that were performed locally and by 1945, when she was 16, she was writing poetry seriously.

In 1947, she left the city to attend Radcliffe College and soon after published her first collection of poems -"Change of World," - for which she garnered critical acclaim and won Yale's Younger Poets Award.

In 1953 she broke ties with her father when she married Alfred Conrad, a Harvard economics professor of whom her father disaproved. She had three sons in the next six years and her frustration with the confines of the mother/wife role led to one of her most influential works: "Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution."

In the 1960s and 1970s she became an activist in the civil rights movement, anti-Vietnam War protests and the women's liberation movement. She separated and eventually divorced Conrad (he later committed suicide.) She became increasingly public about her lesbianism; enduring a critical backlash for her outspokenness.

She went on to teach literature at universities across the country and write extensively about the intersections of class, race, religion and gender.

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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