Grace Hazard Conkling
Grace Hazard was born on February 7, 1878 in New York to Christopher Grant Hazard and Frances Post Hazard. Having cultivated a skill and love for music from a young age, Conkling dreamed of devoting her life to music. After receiving a B.L. from Smith College in 1899, she spent a year teaching at the Graham School in New York before traveling to Europe where she studied music and languages in Germany and France, studying the organ with the illustrious Charles-Marie Widor. However, in her second year she fell ill from overwork and was forced to abandon the idea of music as a profession. She returned to the United States where she married Roscoe Platt Conkling in 1905 and moved to a remote ranch near Tampico, Mexico. Conkling cherished the time she spent there and Mexico is referred to in many of her poems.
In 1914 she sued for divorce and accepted a teaching position at Smith College. It has been said that being a member of the Smith faculty was good for her creative side because Conkling soon became a very accomplished poet and had numerous books published by the time she retired in 1947.
Conkling’s poetry and enthusiasm for teaching was recognized both by Smith and others in the academic community. Her poetry and short stories were published in numerous magazines including the Yale Review, Atlantic Monthly, and Harper’s. She was also a member of the Poetry Society of America, the N.E. Poetry Society, the Author’s Club of Boston, and the Women’s University Club of New York. In 1930, Conkling was awarded an honorary MA from Smith College. She died on November 15, 1958 and was survived by her two daughters and three grandchildren.
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