Lizette Woodworth Reese

Lizette Woodworth Reese

09.01.1856 - 17.12.1935

American poet


Reese was born in the Waverly section of Baltimore, Maryland, to Louisa Gabler and David Reese. She had a twin sister named Sophia. Educated in Baltimore's public schools, Reese graduated from Eastern High School (Baltimore), where a memorial for her stands today. After graduation, she became a school teacher at St. John's Parish School in 1873. The following year, Reese published her first poem, "The Deserted House," in Southern Magazine. She continued to publish in various magazines until her first self-published anthology, A Branch of May, in 1887. Subsequent books followed in 1891 and 1896, A Handful of Lavender and A Quiet Road, respectively. During the late 1890s and early 1900s, Reese wrote infrequently. However, her sonnet "Tears," published in Scribner's Magazine in 1899, garnered her praise and recognition, particularly from fellow Baltimore writer H. L. Mencken, who stated that Reese's work was “one of the imperishable glories of American literature." In 1918, Reese retired from teaching after having worked her last few years at Western High School (Baltimore).

In 1931, Reese was named poet laureate of Maryland by the General Federation of Women's Clubs. She was also honorary president of the Poetry Society of Maryland and co-founder of the Women's Literary Club of Baltimore.

Reese died on December 17, 1935. She is buried at the St. John's Episcopal Church. After her death, one of Reese's friends, sculptor Grace Turnbull, was commissioned to create a monument to her work. The marble statue, entitled "The Good Shepherd," stands on the old grounds of Eastern High School, Reese's alma mater, in Waverly.

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