Richard Eberhart papers, 1904 - 2011Manuscript MS-1082

Biography

Richard G. Eberhart was born on April 5, 1904 in Austin, Minnesota. He grew up on a 40 acre estate called Burr Oaks. During the summer of 1921, immediately after his graduation from high school, it was discovered that a partner in his father's business, Hormel Management, had embezzled over 1.5 million dollars during an 8-year period. The company stock plummeted and the Eberharts lost a significant amount of money. It was also during this summer that Eberhart's mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She died the following June.

Eberhart attended the University of Minnesota in the fall of 1922, but subsequently transferred to Dartmouth College after a year, where he received his B.A. in 1926. Following graduation, he worked as a deck hand on a steamship before continuing his studies at St. John's College, Cambridge University, where he received a B.A. and M.A. in 1929. He then returned to the U.S, where he worked several jobs before he became the personal tutor to the son of King Prajadhipok of Siam in 1930. Following this position Eberhart pursued graduate work at Harvard University in 1932, but decided to end his studies only a year later.

In 1933, Eberhart accepted a teaching post as an English teacher at St. Mark's School in Massachusetts. He was there for eight years, during which time he met and married Helen Elizabeth "Betty" Butcher in 1941. They were married until her death in 1993 and had two children together. During World War II, Eberhart served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve and afterwards took up a position at The Butcher Polish Company in Boston. In 1956, Eberhart was appointed Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at Dartmouth College. In 1968 he was named the Class of 1925 Professor of English, and although he semi-retired in 1970 he continued to teach at Dartmouth until the mid-1980s. From 1975 to the mid-1980s Eberhart was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he spent his summers.

Eberhart was the author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry. From 1959-1961 he was the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. He was also appointed by President Eisenhower as a member of the Advisory Committee on the Arts for the National Cultural Center in Washington in 1959. In 1962 he won the Bollingen Prize for Poetry and he won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Selected Poems, 1930-1965. He also won the National Book Award in 1977 for Collected Poems, 1930-1976. Eberhart served as New Hampshire's Poet Laureate from 1979 to 1984 and became a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1982. He was also honored with many other awards during his career, such as the Shelley Memorial Award, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Award, and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.

Richard Eberhart passed away on June 9, 2005 at the age of 101 in Hanover, NH.

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