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The Journals of Elizabeth Bishop
Edited by Alice Quinn
Categories: 20th Century, American, LGBTQ+, Memoirs, Women
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (280 pages)
(Due Nov 2025)
This is a fascinating window giving on the private thoughts of one of the great American writers of the twentieth century. It follows on Carcanet's publication of Edgar Allan Poe and the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments, edited by Alice Quinn, and Exchanging Hats, the poet's celebrated watercolours.
Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979) wrote frequently and intimately in her journals. They document the evolution of her work and illuminate another side of the private life that was the occasion of so many of her poems. This generous selection shows us, in many cases for the first time, the thoughts and passions of a figure unrivalled in her influence on American poetry, an influence registered by poets throughout the Anglophone world.
Her prose has proven an essential complement to her poems; David Kalstone wrote in the New York Times that it would be read 'beside her poems, as Keats' letters are beside his... "The Sea & Its Shore" and "In Prison" [are] worthy of Kafka or Poe.' Of Alice Quinn's annotations, Sam Leith wrote in the Telegraph, 'Beautifully and fascinatingly annotated... you can see the great poems themselves emerging. A complete treasure-house.'
Praise for Elizabeth Bishop 'Beautifully and fascinatingly annotated...you can see the great poems themselves emerging. A complete treasure-house.'
Sam Leith, The Telegraph
'For those who love Elizabeth Bishop, there can never be enough of her writing. The arrival of this trove of unknown manuscripts is therefore a stupendous event.'
'Mirrors... throughout her work pretty consistently stand for the imagination... did she realise that the act of looking is always reflective? No matter how intently she searched nature for an identity, she could see only what her eye and mind perceived. Geography could provide her with no more than a reflection in the transparent glass of her own polished window.'
'You can see Klee or Vuillard in her paintings and her poetry, not because she imitated them but because she liked them and saw what they saw... As Benton says and this delightful book shows, Bishop was 'her own best influence'.'
Lavinia Greenlaw, Independent on Sunday
'Bishop's... paintings are not 'interesting' forays into an essentially alien form, nor are they divorced from the central intelligence of the poems... they come from the same extraordinary source and make a justified claim to attention in their own right.'
Jamie McKendrick, Times Literary Supplement
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
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