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Elinor Wylie - Biography & Selected Products

Elinor Morton Wylie was born on September 7, 1885 in Somerville, New Jersey, 

An accomplished poet and novelist she was also know for her ethereal beauty and her scandalous lifestyle.  Elinor was educated at Miss Baldwin's School, Mrs. Flint's School and Holton-Arms School.  As the names suggest she was being trained for life as a debutante.  But her life quickly found another route. She was absorbed in the perfect world of books, a fanatical admirer of Shelley her verse absorbs much from the Metaphysical poets and the Romantics. After an early romance failed she met and eloped with her first husband, Philip Simmons Hichborn and they married on December 13, 1906.  A son was born nine months later.   But Hichborn, a would-be poet, was unstable and the marriage unhappy.  Soon she found herself pursued, or rather stalked by a man 17 years her senior - Horace Wylie, a Washington lawyer with a wife and three children.  With the death of her father in November 1910 she abandoned her family and began living with Wylie.  It was a scandal and they escaped to England, living under the assumed name of Waring.  Her abandoned husband later committed suicide in 1912.  With Wylie's encouragement Elinor anonymously published in 1912, Incidental Number, a small poetry volume assembled from works of the previous decade.

 Between 1914 and 1916, Elinor tried for a second child, but endured several miscarriages, a stillbirth and a premature child who lived only for a few days.

After Wylie's wife agreed to a divorce, the couple returned to the United States and Elinor and Horace Wylie married in 1916 but they were already drawing apart.

In 1921, Wylie's first commercial book of poetry, Nets to Catch the Wind, was published. It was an immediate success. The Poetry Society awarded her its Julia Ellsworth Ford Prize.

Elinor began spending time in literary circles in New York City amongst whom she found her next husband — William Rose Benét whom she married in 1923.

Also in 1923 she published Black Armor, another poetry volume of which the New York Times said "There is not a misplaced word or cadence in it. There is not an extra syllable."

1923 was turning out to be a very big year indeed.  Her first novel, Jennifer Lom, was also published to acclaim.

Her worked enabled her to become the poetry editor of Vanity Fair magazine between 1923 and 1925. From 1926 to 1928 Elinor was an editor of Literary Guild, and a contributing editor of The New Republic.

By the time of Elinor’s third book of poetry, Trivial Breath in 1928, her marriage with Benét was also in trouble, and they had agreed to live apart.

She moved again to England and fell in love with the husband of a friend, Henry de Clifford Woodhouse, to whom she wrote a series of 19 sonnets which she published privately in 1928 as Angels and Earthly Creatures.

Elinor Wylie died on December 16, 1928 of a stroke while preparing the 1929 Angels and Earthly Creatures for commercial publication.

Below we publish much of her poetry.  Delightful and sensuous,  it speaks and tells us much about who Elinor really was.