Image of Margaret Widdemer


Lifetime: 1884 - 1978 Passed: ≈ 46 years ago


Poet, Novelist


United States

Margaret Widdemer

Margaret Widdemer was an American poet and novelist. She won the Pulitzer Prize (known then as the Columbia University Prize) in 1919 for her collection The Old Road to Paradise, shared with Carl Sandburg for Cornhuskers.

Margaret Widdemer was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where her father, Howard T. Widdemer, was a minister of the First Congregational Church. She graduated from the Drexel Institute Library School in 1909. She first came to public attention with her poem The Factories, which treated the subject of child labor. In 1919, she married Robert Haven Schauffler (1879–1964), a widower five years her senior. Schauffler was an author and cellist who published widely on poetry, travel, culture, and music. His papers are held at the University of Texas at Austin.

Widdemer's memoir Golden Years I Had recounts her friendships with eminent authors such as Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, Thornton Wilder, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

The scholar Joan Shelley Rubin has surmised that Widdemer coined the term "middlebrow" in her essay "Message and Middlebrow," published in 1933 in The Saturday Review of Literature. However, the term had previously been used by the British magazine Punch in 1925.

Widdemer died in New York City, in 1978.

Books by Margaret Widdemer

A Tree with a Bird in it Cover image

A Tree with a Bird in it

Contemporary Poems Verses Prose Birds

Tree with a Bird in it: a symposium of contemporary American poets on being shown a pear-tree on which sat a grackle is a collection of poems based on a bird in a tree. The author parodies various contemporary poets in 1922 with their versions of a p...

Rose Garden Husband Cover image

Rose Garden Husband

This novel was written by Margaret Widdemer, who won the Pulitzer prize for her collection of poetry in 1919. Phyllis is a 25-years-old children's librarian. She is good at her job. Yet when she sees a girl from her hometown with two children, she d...

Haunted Hour; an anthology Cover image

Haunted Hour; an anthology

I have not considered as ghost-poems anything but poems which related to the return of spirits to earth. They "The Blessed Damozel," a poem of spirits in heaven, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," whose heroine may be a fairy or witch, and whose ghosts are...