Fun Facts Friday: James Merrill

March 3, 2017

James Merrill (3 March, 1926 – 6 February, 1995) was an award winning American poet.

Books by James Merrill*

Books by James Merrill*

1)      Born in New York City, the poet’s parents were Hellen Ingram Merrill, a society report and publisher, and Charles E. Merrill, co-founder of the investment firm Merrill Lynch.

2)      As the son of an investment banker, Mr. Merrill was privileged in terms of education and economics.

3)      He did not envy his parents who “seemed so utterly taken up with engagements, obligations, ceremonies”, his mother “wrote names on place-cards, planned menus, and did her needlepoint” while his father “was merely making money”.

4)      In 1944, Mr. Merrill was drafted to the US Army and served for eight month.

5)      After his service, Mr. Merrill went back to his studies in Amherst College and graduated summa cum laude.

6)      After reading his senior thesis on Marcel Proust, an English professor said that Mr. Merrill (or Jim as he was known then) to be “destined for some sort of greatness”.

7)      Mr. Merrill won every major poetry award in the US, and the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Divine Comedies.

8)      The Ingram Merrill Foundation was created by Mr. Merrill, was a charity which subsidized literature and public television with grants directed at young writers and artists. The foundation’s name is the name of his divorced parents.

9)      He was the Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets form 1979 until he died.

10)   After his death, the poet’s house in Connecticut was kept by Stonington Borough as a home for writers and scholars.

Books by James Merrill*

Zohar — Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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