Book details

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker

The Complete Correspondence

Author: Elizabeth Bishop; Edited by Joelle Biele

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker


About This Book

I sort of see you surrounded with fine-tooth combs, sandpaper, nail files, pots of varnish, etc.—with heaps of used commas and semicolons handy, and little useless phrases taken out of their contexts...

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Book Details

I sort of see you surrounded with fine-tooth combs, sandpaper, nail files, pots of varnish, etc.—with heaps of used commas and semicolons handy, and little useless phrases taken out of their contexts and dying all over the floor," Elizabeth Bishop said upon learning a friend landed a job at The New Yorker in the early 1950s. From 1933 until her death in 1979, Bishop published the vast majority of her poems in the magazine's pages. During those forty years, hundreds of letters passed between Bishop and her editors, Charles Pearce, Katharine White, and Howard Moss. In these letters Bishop discussed the ideas and inspiration for her poems and shared news about her travels, while her editors offered support, commentary, and friendship. Their correspondence provides an unparalleled look into Bishop's writing process, the relationship between a poet and her editors, the internal workings of The New Yorker, and the process of publishing a poem, giving us a rare glimpse into the artistic development of one of the twentieth century's greatest poets.

Imprint Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



In The News

“One of the pleasures of Elizabeth Bishop and ‘The New Yorker', a new collection of her correspondence with that magazine's poetry editors, is snooping around in the excellent footnotes and front matter for the wicked comments she made behind the magazine's back.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“[Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker] offers a glimpse into Bishop's life (she lived in Brazil for much of this period), writing process and relationship with her editors, as well as a look into the internal workings of that fabled publication in which so many of her poems were published … As with the best correspondence, it is like eavesdropping on a lively conversation already in progress.” —The Globe and Mail

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker collects nearly forty years of letters between Bishop and the magazine, largely a correspondence with two of Bishop's formidable editors, Katherine White and Howard Moss. It was more than a partnership. In letters to Moss and White over the years, her valedictions warmed from ‘Sincerely' to ‘Affectionately' to ‘Love'.'” —Jeremy Axelrod, Columbia Journalism Review

“True, you're reading a lot of the nuts and bolts of Bishop's relationship with her New Yorker editors [Katherine] White and then Howard Moss--the work accepted and rejected, checks sent, detailed changes. You're also following a narrative line about Bishop the writer and the changing literary climate of the New Yorker. Fascinating.” —Jeff Simon, Buffalo News

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker, ably introduced by the poet Joelle Biele, charts her relationship with the first publisher of most of her best poems … Although much of this correspondence is about punctuation … postal delays or illness … there is also regular disagreement about how "coarse she is allowed to be in [The New Yorker's] genteel pages ...[The collection] shed[s] light on the arc of Bishop's development as a poet, and implicitly grants us a sense of the limits that hemmed in gay writers in the middle of the last century.” —John McAuliffe, The Irish Times

Bishop's long and affectionate relationship with the magazine is thoroughly documented in Elizabeth Bishop and the New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence … Poets and New Yorker aficionados will find it irresistible … Reading this volume, noting the meticulous attention brought to each poem and story, one realizes how skillfully the editors helped focus and clarify every detail of the text.” —Dana Gioia, The Wall Street Journal

“The letters of … Elizabeth Bishop, written to The New Yorker where she published a great deal of her work, offers an exhilarating glimpse into the poet's thinking about her own work … and the background for much its creation, which views she shared with her editors.” —Michael Coffey, Publishers Weekly

Elizabeth Bishop and ‘The New Yorker' deserves a wide audience: from the quibbles about commas, the worrisome queries regarding matters of accuracy and propriety, the back and forth over delayed manuscripts and contractual obligations, emerges a fascinating new dimension to a poet's encounters with the outside world.” —Fiona Green, Times Literary Supplement

“Given that Bishop, who was born in 1911 and died in 1979, had a poem accepted for the first time in 1939, there is no denying that the magazine played an important role in defining Elizabeth Bishop the poet for the American public . . . It's impossible to say what her poems would have looked like if she hadn't agreed to some of [her New Yorker editors'] requests--she was a master poet, after all. If nothing else, the New Yorker was, to paraphrase Joelle Biele, the book's magisterial editor, that one constant in Bishop's otherwise nomadic writing life and existence in general.” —Piotr Florczyk, World Literature in Review

About the Creators

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker