Wilbur, Richard

Wilbur, Richard, 1921–2017, American poet and translator, b. New York City, B.A. Amherst, 1942, M.A. Harvard, 1947. A virtuoso craftsman who wrote with grace and precision in traditional verse forms, Wilbur was always original and generally affirmative in his view of the world. Often profound and witty, playful, urbane, and intellectual, his poetry is collected in The Beautiful Changes (1947), Ceremony (1950), Things of This World (1956; Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award), Advice to a Prophet (1961), The Mind Reader (1976), New and Collected Poems (1988; Pulitzer Prize), Mayflies (2000), Collected Poems 1943–2004 (2004), and Anterooms (2010). Among his five works for children are the prize-winning storybook Loudmouse (1963) and the poetry collection Opposites (1973), which he illustrated himself. Responses (1976) and The Catbird's Song (1997) are collections of his prose pieces. Wilbur was U.S. poet laureate from 1987 to 1988. He translated seven of Molière's plays, including The Misanthrope (1955), Tartuffe (1963), and The School for Wives (1972), and other classic French drama; he also translated Spanish and Russian works. With Lillian Hellman, he wrote the libretto for Leonard Bernstein's musical version of Voltaire's Candide (1957). Wilbur also was an editor and taught at Harvard, Wesleyan, Smith, and Amherst.

See W. Butts, ed., Conversations With Richard Wilbur (1990); biography by R. and M. Bagg (2017); studies by D. L. Hill (1967) and W. Salinger, ed. (1983); bibliography by F. Bixler (1991).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: American Literature: Biographies