In Memoriam: Helen Vendler, 1933-2024

Helen Vendler, poetry critic and long-time professor of English at Harvard University, passed away on April 23. She was 90 years old.

Throughout her career, Dr. Vendler taught at numerous higher education institutions including Cornell University in New York, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Haverford College in Pennsylvania, Smith College in Massachusetts, and Boston University. In 1985, she joined the faculty in the department of English at Harvard University. Early into her tenure with the university, she was awarded the endowed title of William R. Kenan Professor of English and American Literature and Language. In 1990, she was named University Professor, making her the first woman faculty member to be honored with the designation. During her nearly three-decades long tenure, she held various leadership positions including associate dean of arts and sciences. At the time of her death, she held the title of Arthur Kinglsey Porter University Professor Emerita.

As a scholar and literary critic, Dr. Vendler wrote extensively on Shakespeare, George Herbert, John Keats, Emily Dickson, WIlliam Butler Yates, Wallace Stevens, and Seamus Heaney. She authored numerous publications including The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar: Essays on Poets and Poetry (Harvard University Press, 2015) and The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Belknap Press, 1997).

Dr. Vendler was a graduate of Emmanuel College in Boston where she majored in chemistry. She received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard University.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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