MARY OLIVER, American poet and essayist, was born (d: 2019); Perhaps one of the best selling poets today, as a teenager, she lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s sister Norma organize the papers Millay left behind. She attended Ohio State University and Vassar College in the mid-1950s but did not receive degrees. She taught in the writing programs at Sweet Briar College and Bennington College. 

Her work has been compared to Whitman and Thoreau for its naturalist elements. She was the recipient of various awards and prizes including the Lannan Literary Award for poetry (1998), the National Book Award for Poetry (1992), the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1984), a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1980), and the Shelley Memorial Award (1969/70) of the Poetry Society of America.

Her partner, artist Molly Malone Cook, served as Oliver’s literary agent until her death in 2005. Oliver was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012 but was treated and given a clean bill of health. She ultimately died of lymphoma in January 2019, at her home in Florida at the age of 83.