Denise Levertov Biographical Note

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Denise Levertov was born in Ilford, England, in 1923. Levertov was educated at home, and had her first poem published, in Poetry Quarterly, at the age of 17. After serving as a nurse in London during World War II, she emigrated to the United States in 1948, and became a naturalized citizen in 1956.

Levertov's first book published in America, Here and Now (1956), and her subsequent publication, With Eyes at the Back of our Heads (1959) brought her national recognition and acclaim. Throughout the next decades, her poetry reflected her involvement in contemporary political movements, such as anti-Vietnam protests and feminism. Levertov was a prolific writer, who produced more than 20 books of poetry, criticism, and translations and edited several important anthologies.

Levertov taught at Stanford University from 1982 until 1993, as well as at numerous universities, primarily as a visiting artist. Her honors include the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Frost Medal, the Lenore Marshall Prize and the Lannan Award, along with a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant.

When Levertov died in December of 1997, she left behind forty poems, which were published posthumously in This Great Unknowing: Last Poems (1999).