Born: October 30, 1881
Died: March 13, 1941
Elizabeth Maddox Roberts published seven novels, three volumes of poetry, and two collections of short stories. Two novels — The Time of Man (1926) and The Great Meadow (1930) — were Pulitzer Prize contenders.
Roberts was the second of eight children born to Simpson Roberts and Mary Elizabeth Brent Roberts. The family moved to Springfield, where she attended Washington County public schools. She attended high school in Covington, where she lived with maternal grandparents.
In 1900, Roberts enrolled at the University of Kentucky, but poor health caused her to drop out after only one semester. She moved back to Springfield and taught school there for a decade. She left Springfield in 1910 and moved to Colorado to live with a sister.
She enrolled in the University of Chicago in 1917 at age 36. The university fostered an active literary community, which led her to form lifelong friendships with a group of writers and artists who were members of the Chicago Poetry Club, including Glenway Wescott, Janet Lewis, Yvor Winters, Monroe Wheeler, and Maurice Lesemann. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1921 and was awarded the Fiske Prize for a group of poems that resulted in the book, Under the Tree, in 1922.
Roberts had great instinct for Kentucky folk speech and was good at capturing descriptions of Kentucky folk culture. Her work received critical acclaim from some of the best writers and critics of her era, including Robert Penn Warren, Ford Madox Ford and Sherwood Anderson.
Roberts won a many awards, including the John Reed Memorial Prize (1928), The O. Henry Memorial Short Story Prize (1930), and the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s Prize (1931).
Because of a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease in 1936, she began to winter in Florida near Orlando. She returned to Springfield for the summers to be with her parents. She died in Florida and was buried in Springfield.
In the Great Steep’s Garden. Colorado Springs: Gowdy-Simmons Printing Co., 1915.
Under the Tree. New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1922.
The Haunted Mirror. New York: Viking Press, 1932.
Not by Strange Gods. New York: Viking Press, 1941.
The Time of Man. New York: Viking Press, 1926.
My Heart and My Flesh. New York: Viking Press, 1927.
Jingling in the Wind. New York: Viking Press, 1928.
The Great Meadow. New York: Viking Press, 1930.
A Buried Treasure. New York: Viking Press, 1931.
He Sent Forth a Raven. New York: Viking Press, 1935.
Black Is My True Love’s Hair. New York: Viking, 1938.
Song in the Meadow. New York: Viking Press, 1940.