HILDA DOOLITTLE “H.D.” founder of imagist poetry born (d: 1961); Famously known by her initials only, H.D. was an American poet, novelist and memoirist. She is best known for her association with the key early 20th century avant-garde Imagist group of poets, although her later writing represents a move away from the Imagist model and towards a distinctly feminine version of modernist poetry and prose.

Doolittle was one of the leading figures in the bohemian culture of London in the early decades of the century. Her work is noted for its use of classical models and its exploration of the conflict between lesbian and heterosexual attraction and love, with these struggles closely resembling her own life. In 1907, she became engaged to Ezra Pound.

Her father disapproved of Pound, and by the time her father left for Europe in 1908, the engagement had been called off. Around this time, Doolittle entered into a relationship with a young art student named Frances Josepha Gregg.

After spending part of 1910 living in New York City’s Greenwich Village, she sailed to Europe with Gregg and Gregg’s mother in 1911. Although she would eventually marry, and have children, her bisexuality surfaced throughout her life. She would regularly take female lovers in addition to her male companion at the time, and vice-versa. Her later poetry also explores traditional epic themes, such as violence and war, from a feminist perspective.

H.D. was the first woman to be granted the American Academy of Arts and Letters medal. In 1960, H.D. was in the U.S. to collect the American Academy of Arts and Letters medal. Returning to Switzerland, she suffered a stroke in July of 1961 and died a couple of months later in the Klinik Hirslanden in Zürich. Her ashes were returned to Bethlehem, and were buried in the family plot in the Nisky Hill Cemetery on October 28. Her epitaph consists of the following lines from an early poem:

So you may say,

Greek flower; Greek ecstasy

reclaims forever

one who died

following intricate song’s

lost measure.