(b. Sept. 10, 1886, Bethlehem, PA, US -- d. Sept. 27, 1961, Zurich, Switz.)
Her pen name H.D. was given to her by Ezra Pound. Pound was also responsible for submitting three of her poems in Harriet Monroe's influential magazine, Poetry. These poems were among the first important products of the "imagist movement": where poems lacked explanation, unrhymed and lacked regular beat. The power of an image was relied on to gain attention and convey emotion.
Doolittle's father was an astronomer at the University of Pennsylvania, and she was reared in the strict Moravian tradition of her mother's family. The symbols and rituals of this group had much to do with H.D.'s interest in images. She was engaged for a while to Ezra Pound, and his influence continued long after they split up. She later married an English poet named Richard Aldington in 1913. Their marriage, however, was not a success and was destroyed by their separation during World War I.
During the year 1919, H.D. went through many tragedies. HD's brother was killed in the fighting in France, her father died, her marriage finally ended, friendships between Ezra Pound and D.H. Lawrence faded, and gave birth to a daughter who Arlington said was not his child. These traumas caused great affects for the rest of her life. A woman by the name of Winifred Ellerman rescued her from her emotional and financial troubles.
In H.D.'s poems personal and historical experiences are revealed. She was also attracted to the image of Helen (Greek goddess), as an image of herself. H.D. was upset that the story of the Trojan War was related entirely by the male point of view. Helen never had a chance to speak.
H.D. was known for her imagist poetry with it's vivid phrasing, compelling imagery, short lines and free verse. Her images come mostly from nature: sea, wind and sand are contrasted with exotic figures of flowers, jewelry, and shells. H.D. lived a liberated life for a woman of her time.
HD died in 1961 of the flu.