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After writing two extremely well received biographiesthe first about Anne Sexton and the second about poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plathworld-renowned scholar Diane Middlebrook’s final project was a study of Ovid’s work. Though he has been dead for over two thousand years and had left no personal recordsnot even the name of his motherhis poetry endures. Middlebrook was convinced that her intimate knowledge of Ovid’s poetry and the approach she used in Her Husband (winner of the Prix Du Meilleur Livre Estranger), combined with a deep immersion into the Rome of Ovid’s time, would enable her to write what could, without bragging, be called an Ovidian biography.
However, severe health issues interfered with Middlebrook’s work, and she was ultimately unable to complete this ambitious project before her death in 2007. She left behind an extraordinary look at the conditions and customs to which Ovid was exposed as a young Roman, as well as an acute interpretation of his family and personal life, gleaned from close readings of his poetry and letters from exile. Exhaustively researched and carefully constructed, Middelbrook’s portrayal of Ovid is certain to be studied by scholars and read by historians for year to come.
Diane Middlebrook was an American biographer, poet, and teacher. She taught feminist studies for many years at Stanford University. She is best known for New York Times Bestseller Anne Sexton: A Biography, the critically acclaimed Her Husband: Ted Hughes & Sylvia Plath, A Marriage, and Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton.