Biography of Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich is an influential American poetess, publicist, a representative of the second wave of feminism, a lesbian.  She is the author of 25 books of poetry, 6 collections of essays and notes. Rich belongs to the most significant poetesses of the USA in the second half of the 20th – beginning of the 21st centuries, influential figures of the American public scene.

Born: May 16, 1929
Baltimore, Maryland
Academic, Poet, Scholar, Journalist

Adriana Cecil Rich was born on May 16, 1929 in Baltimore, Maryland. Her father was a professor of medicine, her mother was a composer and pianist.

Adrienne Rich


She graduated from Radcliffe College, Cambridge. She made her debut in 1951 with a book of poems A Change of World, which received the Odena Yale Prize for young poetesses by her own choice (Auden accompanied the collection with his foreword).

Career and marriage

biography Adrienne Rich

In 1953, Rich married Alfred Conrad, an economist from Harvard. From 1955 to 1959, Adriana led the life of the model wife of a scientist from Cambridge. Since 1966, she lived with her husband and three sons New York.With the new left party, she participated in anti-war demonstrations, the movement for civil rights. In the late 1960’s she divorced her husband.

In her book “Of Woman Now,” 1976, she describes in detail her desperate attempts to combine the traditional role of women and the fate of the poet she chose.

The second volume of Rich’s poems “The Carvers of Diamonds” was published in 1955. In the late 50’s, Rich’s style began to change, and in her works of the 1960s, especially in the “Needs of Life” (1966) and “Leaflets” (1969), an increasingly active political stance emerged.

In 1966, Rich began teaching at City College in New York under the SEEK program as part of the Open Reception program. This was an important event in her professional life, through which she met African American poets Alice Walker and Audrey Lord, who also taught at the college. When the “Diving Into the Wreck” (1973) was awarded the National Award for Best Book, Rich refused this individual award. Instead, in a joint statement with Walker and the Lord, who were also nominated for the award, Rich wrote that she would accept the award “on behalf of all women whose voices remained and are still unheard in the world of men.”

Who was the husband of Adrienne Rich?

husband of Adrienne Rich

Rich met her future husband, Alfred Haskell Conrad when she was an undergraduate student. At the time, Conrad worked at Harvard University, where he was an economics professor.

Adrienne Rich, Lesbian Poet

Biography of Adrienne Rich

After her husband’s suicide in 1970, Rich began to more frankly express her radical feminism and lesbian separatism. Since 1976, she shared her life with a writer of Jamaican origin Michelle Cliff (born in 1946). Rich published her poems in such feminist publications as Amazon Quarterly, Heresys and 13 Moon. From 1981 to 1983, she worked as an editor for a couple with Michelle Cliff in a lesbian magazine called “Sinister Whizdom”.

Adrienne Rich books

One of the most significant among the living poetesses of America, Rich published many volumes of poems, in addition to those already mentioned, including “That’s what brought me to my unbridled peace” (1981), “The fact of the door frame” (1984), “Your native land, your life “(1986),” The Atlas of the Complicated World “(1991). Some of her finest poems about lesbian love can be found in “Twenty-one poems about love” from the collection “Dreams of a common language” (1978).

Rich is also the author of three very notable collections of essays that have had a huge impact on the modern way of thinking of feminists and lesbians: “Unloyal to civilization: feminism, racism, misogyny” (1978), “About lies, secrets and silence” (1979), and “Blood, bread and poetry» (1986).

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian

Perhaps Rich’s most significant essay is “Forced heterosexuality and the existence of lesbians” (1980), a work that has answered the questions of many prominent lesbians and feminists. In this essay, Rich argues that heterosexuality, like motherhood, must be recognized and studied as a political institution. ” Most women, according to Rich, are forced into Goethe-Roxexity, as society leaves them no other choice.

Popular poems by Adrienne Rich

  1. Diving into the Wreck
  2. Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
  3. Living In Sin
  4. Snapshots of a Daughter-In-Law
  5. A Valediction Forbidding Mourning
  6. From an Atlas of the Difficult World
  7. Power
  8. Integrity
  9. Our Whole Life
  10. Miracle Ice Cream

Facts about Adrienne Rich

  • while the poet’s parents were from Jewish and Southern Protestant families, they raised their daughter as a Christian
  • her father encouraged Adrienne to write poems
  • Rich and Alfred Haskell Conrad had three sons
  • the poet was very active in anti-war, civil rights, and feminist movements. She wrote several pieces devoted solely to the rights of women in society
  • after her husband’s death, Rich entered a relationship with the novelist and editor Michelle Cliff, which ended only with her death.

Adrienne Rich death: March 27, 2012; Santa Cruz, California