Elizabeth Bishop was born in 1911 in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was brought up by a series of relatives from the age of five, following the death of her father and subsequent mental breakdown of her mother. Her adult life remained unsettled, and after graduating from Vassar College, she travelled extensively and lived in New York, Florida, Boston and Brazil.
Bishop’s alienation in her early years and her later travels became the inspiration for her poetry. She published four volumes in her lifetime, and although her output was relatively small, her work was widely celebrated for its sharp observations and precise use of language. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her first volume North and South, and became the first woman to receive the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1976.
She died in Boston following a cerebral aneurism in 1979.