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Margaret Widdemer, image courtesy of John D. Widdemer.

"My aesthetic bias has always been towards the classic and conservative; curiously mingled with a deep interest in social problems, which has given my poetry conservative form and modern content in many cases. I am strongly against specialization in art or life, and have continued to do work in as many literary mediums as I could find."
-Margaret Widdemer

Margaret Widdemer, a Pulitzer prize winning poet and novelist, was born in Doylestown. She began her literary career with a series of light novels set in Asbury Park, where she spent most of her childhood. Her first novel, The Boardwalk, was semi-autobiographical. In 1919 she shared the Pulitzer Prize with Carl Sandburg for her anti-child labor poem, "The Factories." Although Widdemer earned her living by writing novels, 32 in all, and short stories, including Graven Image, Lani, and Red Castle Woman, poetry remained her first love. She won several awards for her poems, among them the Trimmed Lamp Prize, the Literary Review Prize for satire, and the Lyric Prize. Her last collected volume of poetry, The Dark Cavalier, was published in 1958. Margaret was a teacher as well as writer, instructing at the Chautaugua Writer's Conference, at Columbia University, and through a series of radio talks on NBC's Do You Want to Write? In addition to her fiction, Margaret published several books on writing, and summed up her life in her memoir, Golden Friends I Had. She died in 1978 at age 93, while working on an unfinished novel entitled A Rope to Hang My Love.

Margaret Widdemer, image courtesy of John D. Widdemer.

Education & Community

Education and Training
Home-educated by her grandmother and aunt.
Library training, Drexel Institute of Arts and Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Teachers and Influences

Colleagues: Elinor Wylie, Arnold Bennett, Edwin Arlington Robinson, DuBose Heyward, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Amy Lowell, Vachel Lindsay, Sara Teasdale, Sinclair Lewis, Joyce Kilmer, Aline Kilmer, and Thornton Wilder, who she spent summers with at the MacDowell Colony. She cites her grandmother as her mentor.

Connection to Bucks County

Margaret Widdemer was born in Doylestown in 1884. Her father, Reverend Howard Taylor Widdemer, served as rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Doylestown from 1883 to 1885.


Basic Principles of Fiction Writing
Golden Friends I Had: Unreserved Memories of Margaret Widdemer
, 1964

Novels and Short Stories:
The Rose-Garden Husband,
The Boardwalk,
A Tree with a Bird In It,
Graven Image
, 1923
Gallant Lady
, 1926
The Singing World
, 1926
All The King's Horses
, 1931
Golden Bain
, 1933
Years of Love
, 1933
Hand on Her Shoulder
, 1938
Some Day I'll Find You
, 1940
Constancia Herself
, 1945
, 1948
Red Cloak Flying
, 1950
Prince in Buckskin,
The Golden Wildcat
, 1954
Red Castle Woman
, 1968

The Factories, with Other Lyrics, 1915
Cross-Currents, 1921
Ballads and Lyrics, 1925
Collected Poems, 1928
Hill Garden, 1936
Dark Cavalier: Collected Poems
, 1958

Children's Literature
Binkie and the Bell Dolls
Prince in Buckskin
The Great Pine Dolls

Awards & Appointments

Teaching and Professional Appointments
Lecturer, Middlebury Writer's Conference, Middlebury, Vermont, 1933
Lecturer, University of Colorado Writer's Conference, 1936
NBC Radio, Do You Want To Write?, 1936
Lecturer, New Hampshire State College; Penn State University; Boulder, Colorado; and New York University
President, P.E.N., the Poetry Society of America, 1949-1961
Assistant Director, Chautaugua Writer's Workshop

Major Awards
American Poetry Society Prize , Best Book of Poems, 1918
Pulitzer Prize, shared with Carl Sandburg, Old Road to Paradise, 1919
Saturday Review of Literature Award for best satire, A Tree With a Bird In It, 1922
English Poetry Society Prize for Best Ballad, "Fiddler's Green", 1926
Lyric Award, 1960

Affiliations and Memberships
Executive Boards of Christadora House
Poet's Guild
Unity Committee of Writer's War Board
P.E.N., Poetry Society of America, president
Degree in Literature (honorary), Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania , 1931
M.A. (honorary), Middlebury College, Middlebury Vermont, 1933

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