Wylie, Elinor

Wylie, Elinor (Hoyt),

1885–1928, American poet and novelist, b. Somerville, N.J. She was famous during her life almost as much for her ethereal beauty and personality as for her melodious, sensuous poetry. Her first notable collection of poems, Nets to Catch the Wind (1921) was followed by Black Amour (1923), Trivial Breath (1928), and the posthumously published sonnet sequence, Angels and Earthly Creatures (1929). Her highly polished, articulate, and deeply emotional verse shows the influence of the metaphysical poetsmetaphysical poets,
name given to a group of English lyric poets of the 17th cent. The term was first used by Samuel Johnson (1744). The hallmark of their poetry is the metaphysical conceit (a figure of speech that employs unusual and paradoxical images), a reliance on
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. Her novels, which are delicately wrought and filled with ironic fancy, include Jennifer Lorn (1923), The Venetian Glass Nephew (1925), The Orphan Angel (1926), and Mr. Hodge and Mr. Hazard (1928). After an unhappy marriage, she eloped to England with Horace Wylie in 1910; following her first husband's death she married Wylie, and although they were later divorced, she continued to write under the name Elinor Wylie. In 1923 she married William Rose Benét, poet and editor, who edited her collected poems (1932) and collected prose (1933) and wrote a study of her work (1934, 2d ed. 1971).

Bibliography

See biography by her sister, N. Hoyt (1935); study by T. A. Gray (1969).

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Wylie, Elinor (Morton Hoyt)

(1885–1928) poet, writer; born in Somerville, N.J. She attended private schools and was a debutante. After leaving her first husband, she went off to England with Horace Wylie (1910–14); on returning to America, they were married in 1915. In 1921, she left Wylie and moved to New York City where in 1923 she married William Rose Benét. All of her writing was published in the final seven years of her life. She is best known today for her delicate poetry, as in Angels and Earthly Creatures (1929), but, in addition, for her critical essays, reviews, and four published novels; all the latter were comic fantasies; two—The Orphan Anvil (1926) and Mr. Hodge and the Hazard (1928)—drew on her fascination with Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.