A Selection of the Poems of Laura Riding
Edited with an introduction by Robert Nye.
Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1994.
pb. ISBN 1-85754-065-4
New York: Persea Books, 1996.
pb. ISBN 0-89255-221-2
This is a personal selection of the poems of Laura (Riding) Jackson by the author and poet Robert Nye, who first came across Laura Riding in a second-hand bookshop when he was fifteen. In 1991 (The Guardian) he said of her:
'As Laura Riding she wrote some of the most truthful and beautiful poems ever to grace the English language in her 1938 Collected Poems...'
From the Introduction to A Selection of the Poems of Laura Riding by Robert Nye
When the true history of twentieth-century poetry in the English language comes to be written, I believe that the poems of Laura Riding - and the story that goes with them - will be seen to be as important as anything in it.
The first thing to grasp about this poet is the threefold nature of her name. Born Laura Reichenthal in New York in 1901, she gave herself the name of Laura Riding when she began writing the poems of her major accomplishment, becoming Laura (Riding) Jackson when she stopped. In her early years in America she was for a brief while associated with the Fugitives, that group of poet which included John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate; they gave her a prize for her work in 1924. At the end of 1925 she came to England, where her first book of poems, The Close Chaplet, was published by the Hogarth Press a year later, and she began a personal and literary association with Robert Graves which lasted until 1939. At that point, or soon after, having returned to America, she renounced the writing of poetry. In 1941 she married Schuyler Jackson, another ex-poet and a scholar of the neglected English writer Charles Doughty; together they worked for many years on a monumental book on language entitled Ration Meaning: A New Foundation for the Definition of Words. She published her 'personal evangel', The Telling, over her later life name of Laura (Riding) Jackson in 1972. She died in Florida , on 2 September 1991, at the age of 90, having been awarded the Bollingen Prize earlier that year for her lifelong services to poetry.