William Ellery Leonard
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William Ellery Leonard

The Professor and the Locomotive-God
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This biography explores the life and works of William Ellery Leonard, a poet of the early twentieth century who has largely fallen from public and academic awareness. His life was marked by heartache, loss and reward, and was plagued by an extreme phobia of locomotives.
William Ellery Leonard was an eccentric poet, professor, and critic whose romantic ideals were set against a world whose aesthetics were fast turning away from his own. He lived a life marked by both success and dramatic failure, both personally and professionally. His first wife’s suicide would haunt him and mark one of his greatest poems, the sonnet sequence Two Lives; his translations of Lucretius and Beowulf stood as hallmarks of the craft for decades after they were published; and his political satires written in response to the University sphere he lived and worked in remain as effective today as they once were.


Prologue: Sixteen St. Luke’s Place
I. The Young Professor 1906-1907
II. Marriage and Tragedy 1909-1911
III. A Son of New England 1876-1898
IV. Choosing a Career 1898-1906
V. The Wound and the Bow 1911-1913
VI. The Translator’s Experience and Art 1914-1916
VII. The World Outside 1914-1920
VIII. From Heroic Poetry to Personal Drama 1920-1923
IX. The Lives of
Two Lives 1925
X. Professor and Patient 1922-1925
The Locomotive-God 1926-1931
XII. A Scholar’s World 1920-1934
XIII. First Love, Last Poem 1932-1942
. A Quiet, Peaceful Life 1940-1944
Epilogue: “Famed for Phobia”
About the Author