Sara Teasdale

POET

“No one worth possessing can be quite possessed.”
—Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale lived a short but productive life as one of the greatest poets ever to come from the Show Me State. Her poems often revolved around women’s issues, especially how women cope with love, nature, and death. She was one of the most widely read authors of the early 1900s and became a voice for women at a time when there were few female voices for them to listen to.

THE EARLY YEARS

Sara Trevor Teasdale was born on August 18, 1884, and grew up in St. Louis.  She was born to a wealthy family in St. Louis’s fashionable Central West End. She had a brother and sister, but she was raised much like an only child because her  siblings were nearly twenty years older than her.

Teasdale’s early education was top notch at prestigious schools like Mary Institute and Hosmer Hall. She first began seriously writing poems in her late teens and joined a group of young women writers who called themselves “The Potters.”   This literary support group provided an opportunity to publish her writings in a magazine called The Potter’s Wheel. She was often sick, so the time she spent at home in bed gave her ample opportunities to write and reflect on issues that became the central themes of her works.

RISE TO FAME

The Potter’s Wheel also provided the public their first exposure to Teasdale’s style of writing. However, she longed for bigger and better things. With the help of her parents’ money, she published a batch of poems in 1907. This was just the beginning of the prolific amount of writing she churned out over the next few decades.

Her first professional book of poems was published four years later, titled Helen of Troy and Other Poems. Critics and readers were impressed with the themes and the intensity of her subject matter.  Teasdale was now a well-known writer in the United States and around the world. She wrote about the strength and frailty of women, morality, and of course, love. But it took a marriage in 1915 to a St. Louis businessman to provide her with the inspiration that made her famous beyond her expectations.

SHOW ME SUCCESS

Soon after her marriage to Ernst Filsinger, she released her third collection of poems. Around this time the couple moved to New York where she spent the rest of her life. At the age of 33, she had a prolific collection of book titles to her name and her collection of writings titled Love Songs won the Columbia Poetry Society of America Prize. That prize was one of the biggest awards for writers in the early 1900s and was in essence the forerunner of the Pulitzer Prize
for Poetry.

Teasdale completed several more books of poetry after the prestigious honor,  but her health declined steadily. She often traveled to England for inspiration, but she usually returned home exhausted and depressed. Fifteen years after winning the Columbia prize, she died from an overdose of sleeping pills in 1933 at the age of 48 in New York City. A number of additional writings were released after her death, some of which were praised as the best writings of her career.

EXTRA, EXTRA!

*One of her classmates at Hosmer Hall was Zoe Byrd Akins, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

*She is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, the resting place of many famous Missourians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Famous People From the Show Me State