Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980)

John Gehl sends us this bio of the American writer Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), a passionate 20th century social activist and feminist poet who also compiled a respectable record as a dramatist, biographer, screenplay writer, and author of children's books.  Rukeyser was born in New York City in 1913, attended private schools, and from 1930 to 1932 was a student at Vassar College. Her first poems were personal in nature and were published in Poetry magazine and other contemporary periodicals. Later her poetry took on a larger, social perspective. This shift in her writing was greatly influenced by her visit to Alabama to report on the Scottsboro Boys trial and her exposure to the
opening events of the Spanish Revolution. Following that, she visited impoverished areas along the Atlantic seaboard, which provided material for telling the stories of miners dying of silicosis in West Virginia in such works as The Book of the Dead.

For awhile Rukeyser edited the Housatonic, a literary journal. Later she was associate editor of the New Theatre magazine, while taking courses at Columbia University, and learning to fly at the Roosevelt Aviation School. In succeeding years she supported herself by lecturing and working in film. Then, in 1942 she was able to write full-time, thanks to an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, followed in 1943 by a Guggenheim fellowship.     Rukeyser died in New York City on February 12, 1980.

See <> for A Muriel Rukeyser Reader.  RH: Can anyone tell us more about "her exposure to the opening events of the Spanish Revolution"?


Ronald Hilton -