Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on February 8th, 1911. Her father died when she was eight months old and her mentally ill mother was institutionalized when she was five, leaving her to be brought up by her grandparents in Nova Scotia and by her maternal aunt in Boston. At Vassar College she befriended and was greatly influenced by Marianne Moore. She was short, rather dumpy and painfully shy, and yet intensely attractive to most who met her – she was an orphan, a severe asthmatic, a lesbian, a self-destructive alcoholic and a voluntary exile. She lived, on her small inheritance, in France, Morocco, Spain, Florida, and from 1951, in Brazil with the love of her life, the architect Lota de Macedo Soares – after whose suicide in 1967 she returned to America. Poetry she produced sparingly, publishing at a rate of one slim volume a decade. Her reputation was always high but never wide: she was a poets’ poet, or as John Ashberry put it, ‘the poets’ poets’ poet’. Today she’s generally recognized as, at least, the finest American poet since the Second World War, along with Robert Lowell, whom she called ‘her best friend’. On the 6 October 1979, Elizabeth Bishop died, suddenly, with characteristic lack of fuss, of a cerebral aneurysm.