Grace Hazard Conkling
7 February 1878 - 15 November 1958
Grace Hazard was born on February 7, 1878 in New York to Christopher Grant Hazard and Frances Post Hazard. Having cultivated a skill and love for music from a young age, Conkling dreamed of devoting her life to music. After receiving a B.L. from Smith College in 1899, she spent a year teaching at the Graham School in New York before traveling to Europe where she studied music and languages in Germany and France, studying the organ with the illustrious Charles-Marie Widor. However, in her second year she fell ill from overwork and was forced to abandon the idea of music as a profession. She returned to the United States where she married Roscoe Platt Conkling in 1905 and moved to a remote ranch near Tampico, Mexico. Conkling cherished the time she spent there and Mexico is referred to in many of her poems.
After the birth of her second child, her husband deserted her and the children, and in 1914 she sued for divorce and accepted a teaching position at Smith College. During her lifetime, Conkling published numerous collections of poetry, including Afternoons of April (1915), Wilderness Songs (1920), Ships Log and Other Poems (1924), Flying Fish: A Book of Songs and Sonnets (1926), and Witch and Other Poems (1928). In addition to poetry, Conkling also wrote essays, including the monograph “Imagination and Children's Reading” (1921). She also transcribed her daughter Hilda’s early childhood poems, which were published as the collection Poems by a Little Girl (1920). She was also a member of the Poetry Society of America, the N.E. Poetry Society, the Author's Club of Boston, and the Women's University Club of New York. In 1930, Conkling was awarded an honorary MA from Smith College. She died on November 15, 1958 and was survived by her two daughters and three grandchildren.
Smith College awards a poetry residency in her name, and a selection of her papers is housed in the archives of their library.