The Baltimore Literary Heritage Project

Lizette Woodworth Reese
Lizette Woodworth Reese pic
Lizette Woodworth Reese, article title
The critics have insisted that the setting of my verses is English. Not so! Parts of Maryland are very English in look. The Joppa Road, in Baltimore County, is in places strangely like a road in Buckinghamshire. The rolling country around Greenspring Valley brings to mind certain airy uplands in Devonshire.
-from Lizette Woodworth Reese's Victorian Village

Lizette Woodworth Reese was born and raised in Waverly, Maryland, just off the road that ran between Baltimore and York, Pennsylvania. She began her teaching career at age 17 at nearby St. John's Episcopal Church's parish school and in 1901, moved to Baltimore's Western High School, where she taught English until she retired in 1921.

Johns Hopkins University professor and long-time acquaintance David M. Robinson described her this way: "With her sound-minded simplicity, [she] seemed to me like a charming child. But she had a genial humanism equal to that of the ancient Greeks… She was a lovely little lady with a staccato touch in her voice and sometimes a lively, lilting lisp. But she had a wonderful, strong, and fearless personality."

Poet Amy Lowell said that Reese's poem "Tears" was "as fine a sonnet as any by Elizabeth Barrett Browning." That poem was first published in Scribner's magazine. Reese said that the check from Scribner's arrived just a few hours after her father's death, "as the crape was being hung from the door."

Reese lived in her childhood home until her mother died, lived the last 20 years of her life with her sister's family, and died at Church Home and Infirmary (as did Edgar Allan Poe 90 years earlier). She's buried in her old neighborhood—now in the heart of Baltimore—in the graveyard next to St. John's Church.

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