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James Merrill

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James Merrill
Merrill in 1973
Merrill in 1973
BornJames Ingram Merrill
(1926-03-03)March 3, 1926
New York City, US
DiedFebruary 6, 1995(1995-02-06) (aged 68)
Tucson, Arizona, US
Alma materThe Lawrenceville School
Amherst College
GenreAmerican poetry
Notable worksThe Changing Light at Sandover, Divine Comedies, Nights and Days
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for Poetry, National Book Award, Bollingen Prize
PartnerDavid Jackson
Peter Hooten
ParentsCharles E. Merrill (father)
RelativesCharles E. Merrill, Jr. (brother)
Peter Magowan (nephew)

James Ingram Merrill (March 3, 1926 – February 6, 1995) was an American poet. He also wrote essays, fiction, and plays.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1977 for Divine Comedies. He won two National Book Awards, for Nights and Days (1966) and Mirabell: Books of Numbers (1978).[1] His second novel, The (Diblos) Notebook was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction.[2]

Merrill was born in 1926 in New York City. His family was very rich. His father, Charles Merrill, was an investment banker and co-founder of the Merrill Lynch brokerage firm. He started his higher schooling at Amherst College, where he first met the poet Robert Frost. He was in the U. S. Army from 1944 to 1945. He graduated from Amherst after World War II in 1947.[1]

Merrill's first play, The Immortal Husband, was done off Broadway in 1955. His first novel, The Seraglio, was published in 1957.[3]

By using a ouija board, Merrill and his life-long companion David Jackson wrote down messages from other-world spirits. Merrill used these notes in three of his books. These books were printed together as a trilogy in 1982 with a new last part. That book is called The Changing Light at Sandover.[1]

In his last years, Merrill was sick with AIDS. He died of a heart attack in 1995 while on vacation in Tucson, Arizona.[3][4]

  • First Poems (1951)
  • The (Diblos) Notebook (1965)
  • Nights and Days (1966)
  • The Fire Screen (1969)
  • Braving the Elements (1972)
  • Divine Comedies (1976)
  • Mirabell: Books of Number (1978)
  • The Changing Light at Sandover (1982)
  • A Different Person (1993)
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[change | change source]
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "James Merrill". Poetry Foundation. 2023-01-21. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  2. "About James Merrill | Academy of American Poets". poets.org. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gussow, Mel (1995-02-07). "James Merrill Is Dead at 68; Elegant Poet of Love and Loss". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  4. "James Merrill: "Last Letters"". The Yale Review. Retrieved 2023-01-22.