Robert Lowell in Love

How mania, marriage, affairs, and love itself shaped one of America’s greatest poets

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Robert Lowell was known not only as a great poet but also as a writer whose devotion to his art came at a tremendous personal cost. In this book, his third on Robert Lowell, Jeffrey Meyers examines the poet’s impassioned, troubled relationships with the key women in his life: his mother, Charlotte Winslow Lowell; his three wives—Jean Stafford, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Caroline Blackwood; nine of his many lovers; his close women friends—Mary McCarthy, Elizabeth Bishop, and Adrienne Rich; and his most talented students, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.

Lowell’s charismatic personality, compelling poetry, and literary fame attracted lovers and friends who were both frightened and excited by his aura of brilliance and danger. He loved the idea of falling in love, and in his recurring manic episodes he needed women at the center of his emotional and artistic life. Each affair became an intense dramatic episode. Though he idealized his loves and encouraged their talents, his frenetic affairs and tortured marriages were always conducted on his own terms. Robert Lowell in Love tells the story of the poet in the grip of love and gives voice to the women who loved him, inspired his poetry, and suffered along with him.

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