Biography of Edgar Bowers (1924 – 2000)
William Edgar Bowers, Jr., one of the finest American poets of the 20th century, was born on March 2, 1924, in Rome, Georgia. The son of a plant nurseryman, William Edgar Bowers, Sr., and a teacher, Grace Lydia Anderson, the poet had one sibling, Lydia Eleanor Bowers, who was born in 1926. The Bowers family lived in several of the southeastern states until the Great Depression forced them to move back to Georgia, this time to Decatur, where they were taken in by Grace Bowers’s elder sister, Jennie Anderson. It was the poet’s Aunt Jennie who would later serve as the model for his poem “Mary,” a moving portrait of a Southern schoolteacher.
Eventually the poet’s father established a plant nursery near Stone Mountain, Georgia, where he and his family raised and sold azaleas, camellias, daphnes, and rhododendrons. Stone Mountain Gardens, as the business was called, and its surrounding acreage served as the setting for some of Bowers’s most important works, including his sequence “Autumn Shade” and his richly detailed pastoral poem “Elegy: Walking the Line.”
While Bowers and his sister were growing up, the family continued to live in Decatur, where the poet attended local schools. At the age of nine, Bowers first heard Christina Rossetti’s poem “Who Has Seen the Wind?” and was captivated by its meter and rhyme. At Decatur Boys’ High School, Bowers received what he once described as “an old-fashioned education” in poetry, reading the works of William Cullen Bryant, Walter Scott, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. He joined with his high school friends to form a writers’ club that produced a literary magazine as well as theatricals in which the writers performed.
Bowers began his undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but the Second World War interrupted his studies, and he soon found himself in the Army. Upon his discharge in April, 1946, he returned to Chapel Hill, earning his bachelor’s degree with a double major in French and German, and then completed his education with a doctorate in English at Stanford University in 1953. Like his mother and aunt, Bowers became a teacher, first at Stanford, then at Duke University and Harpur College (now part of SUNY Binghamton), and finally, from 1958 to 1991, at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
During his many years as an English professor, Bowers periodically returned to Georgia to visit his mother near Stone Mountain, where she lived in a house completed shortly after his father’s death in 1953. It was at Stone Mountain that Bowers would immerse himself in the Georgia landscape, finding in it the inspiration for many of his most memorable poems.
Biography By: UCLA: http://www.library.ucla.edu/libraries/special/scweb/bowers.htm