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Elizabeth Bishop Connection

As a fan of the writings of Elizabeth Bishop I am continually on the watch as to how our local newspapers covered her Island links and this fall I found one. It was her grandfather's obit.. Patriot October 30, 1923. "John Wilson Bishop was born in White Sands on May 29, 1846, the son of William and Sarah[Hooper]Bishop. When he was eleven the family moved to Rhode Island... A few years after he took up the carpenter trade and soon was working with a building concern in Providence. He went on to work in Worcester for various builders until 1874 when he began his own business... Some times on his own and for awhile with a partner, he became one of the foremost builders in the state of Massachusetts. By the time he passed away his firm had offices in Boston, New York, Providence and New Bedford. The article on him states "He gave his business affairs constant attention and its success was due not only to his knowledge of his trade, but also to his remarkable endurance and tireless industry" What a nice tribute. In the introductory remarks of one of Elizabeth's books, it reports that J.W.Bishop Company had built halls of learning at Harvard, Princeton and Andover, libraries at Boston and Provicence and palatial residences in Newport, Lenox and New York. He had married an American lady and they had two sons and two daughters. William Thomas Jr., Eliabeth's father, died eight months after she was born. Her Nova Scotia mother took here back there and there she remained until she was six.. Her mother[A Bulmer from Great Village, N.S.] was instituationalized and the US grandparents brought her back to live with them. It did not work. As she wrote " I had been brought back unconsulted and against my wishes to the house my father had been born in, to be saved from a life of poverty and provincialism, bare feet, suet pudding, unsanitary school slates, perhaps even from the inverted r's of my mother's family". Soon her maternal aunt in South Boston came to the rescue and she was taken to an atmosphere that suited her better. She did benefit financially from the success of the Bishops tho' for she attented fine schools and colleges. She graduated in 1934 from Vassar where she met Marianne Moore who was for her a life long influence. Elizabeth died in October 1979. I don't think she ever visited PEI, but she did return to Nova Scotia and when she could not get there she missed it. A great writer.

Written Sunday, December 03, 2000 at 04:07 PM

(c) 2000 by Catherine Hennessey. Questions or comments? Email me@catherinehennessey.com

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