Image of Sophie Jewett


Lifetime: 1861 - 1909 Passed: ≈ 114 years ago


Poet, Translator, Professor


United States

Sophie Jewett

Sophie Jewett also known under the pseudonym Ellen Burroughs, was an American lyric poet, translator, and professor at Wellesley College.

Jewett was born in Moravia, New York, one of four children of Charles Carroll Jewett, a doctor, and Ellen Ransom (Burroughs) Jewett. Her mother died when she was 7 and her father when she was 9, after which she was raised by an uncle, Daniel Burroughs, and her grandmother in Buffalo. Her sister Louise became a noted art historian. In Buffalo, she developed a friendship with Mary Whiton Calkins, the daughter of her minister, who also went on to teach at Wellesley College.

When she was 20, Jewett traveled in Europe, and reflections of these experiences appear in her early poetry and in sketches that she published in The Outlook and Scribner's Magazine.

Jewett initially published poetry under the pseudonym Ellen Burroughs (borrowed from her mother's name). Her first book under her own name was The Pilgrim, and Other Poems (1896). Jewett wrote in various poetic forms, including the rondeau, the sonnet, and the ballad. Fellow poet Richard Watson Gilder called her a true poet with a golden gift.

In addition to original poetry, Jewett undertook translations, including a version of the complex Middle English poem The Pearl in the original meter and selected lyrics such as a "Nativity Song" adapted from the work of Jacopone da Todi. A collection of southern European ballads translated by Jewett from several languages was edited by the author and literary scholar Katharine Lee Bates and published posthumously.

In 1901, Jewett published an introduction to a critical edition of Tennyson's The Holy Grail.

The English composer Edward Elgar wrote a song entitled "The Poet's Life" (1892) with lyrics by Jewett (credited to her pseudonym of Ellen Burroughs).

In 1889, Jewett began teaching English at Wellesley College, and in 1897 she became an associate professor. Among her students there was the writer Sarah Bixby Smith.

Jewett died October 11, 1909. Wellesley College founded a scholarship in Jewett's name in 1911 and dedicated a window in her memory in the college chapel.

Books by Sophie Jewett

God's Troubadour, The Story of St. Francis of Assisi Cover image

God's Troubadour, The Story of St. Francis of Assisi

Religion Biography

Francis, a young Italian boy, is a merchant’s son who is enthralled by the troubadour songs and tales of knights that his father brings back from his travels. He decides to become a knight, but after seeing the poor and suffering in the tragedies of...

Armistice Cover image


LibriVox volunteers bring you 16 different recordings of Armistice by Sophie Jewett. This was the weekly poetry project for the week of June 1st, 2008.

If Spirits Walk Cover image

If Spirits Walk

LibriVox volunteers bring you 16 recordings of If Spirits Walk by Sophie Jewett. This was the Weekly Poetry project for November 22, 2020. ------ Sophie Jewett also known under the pseudonym Ellen Burroughs, was an American lyric poet, translator,...