Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne
Branco, Jessica
Bennett, John
Crowley, Zachary
2000

Holmes, John A., 1904-1962

Holmes, John A., 1904-1962

John Holmes, January 6, 1946John Albert Holmes Jr. (1904-1962) was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, on January 6, 1904 to John Holmes, Sr., an engineer, and Mary (Murdock) Holmes. After attending Somerville public schools, John Holmes entered Tufts College in the fall of 1925. John Cousens, president of Tufts University, heard Holmes read the class poem at his high school graduation, and, impressed with the young poet, took Holmes under his wing during Holmes' student years at Tufts. Holmes received his bachelor's degree in 1929 and throughout the following year attended graduate courses at Harvard while serving as an assistant in English at Tufts.

Holmes began his teaching career at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he served as an instructor of English during the years 1930-32. He later returned to Somerville and Tufts, joining the faculty of the Department of English as an instructor in 1934. At Tufts, he advanced through the ranks of assistant and associate to a full professorship in 1960. He was honored with an honorary doctorate by the university in 1962.

Holmes achieved notable success as a poet and author during his lifetime. He published seven collections of poetry: Address to the Living (1937), Fair Warning (1939), Map of My Country (1943), Along the Row (1944), The Double Root (1950), The Symbols (1955), and The Fortune Teller (1961). His work appeared in numerous publications from literary journals to daily newspapers. Holmes wrote two books about the writing of poetry, The Poet's Work (1939) and Writing Poetry (1960), in addition to many essays and book reviews. Holmes was also an avid letter-writer, and had active correspondence with family, friends, and other poets. Letter-writing was part of his daily writing routine, and served as a warm-up of sorts for the work of writing verse.

Holmes devoted considerable effort to fostering the development of young and budding poets with whom he came into contact. In addition to teaching poetry and creative writing at Tufts, he taught poetry workshops at the Boston Center for Adult Education, and directed or participated in writers' workshops at Tufts University, the University of New Hampshire at Durham, and the Chautauqua Writers' conference. Holmes also hosted an informal poetry circle among other Boston-area poets in the 1950s, a group which included May Sarton, Anne Sexton, and others. This group met regularly at Holmes' residence in Medford to read and comment on each others' work.

In 1933, Holmes married his first wife, Sara Frances Ludlow, with whom he had one son, John Ludlow Holmes. After his first wife's death, he married Doris Kirk in 1948 and had another son, Evan Kirk Holmes, and daughter, Margaret Nash Holmes. Holmes died June 22, 1962 following a long illness in Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

Following Holmes' death, his papers including manuscripts of almost 1,000 poems were given to the University Archives.

Source: History from the biographical sketch of the John A. Holmes Collection, MS007.

Subject terms: Holmes, John A. Faculty of Arts and Sciences Department of English University Archives People Alumni and alumnae Faculty

John Albert Holmes Jr. (1904-1962) was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, on January 6, 1904 to John Holmes, Sr., an engineer, and Mary (Murdock) Holmes. After attending Somerville public schools, John Holmes entered Tufts College in the fall of 1925. John Cousens, president of Tufts University, heard Holmes read the class poem at his high school graduation, and, impressed with the young poet, took Holmes under his wing during Holmes' student years at Tufts. Holmes received his bachelor's degree in 1929 and throughout the following year attended graduate courses at Harvard while serving as an assistant in English at Tufts.

Holmes began his teaching career at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he served as an instructor of English during the years 1930-32. He later returned to Somerville and Tufts, joining the faculty of the Department of English as an instructor in 1934. At Tufts, he advanced through the ranks of assistant and associate to a full professorship in 1960. He was honored with an honorary doctorate by the university in 1962.

Holmes achieved notable success as a poet and author during his lifetime. He published seven collections of poetry: Address to the Living (1937), Fair Warning (1939), Map of My Country (1943), Along the Row (1944), The Double Root (1950), The Symbols (1955), and The Fortune Teller (1961). His work appeared in numerous publications from literary journals to daily newspapers. Holmes wrote two books about the writing of poetry, The Poet's Work (1939) and Writing Poetry (1960), in addition to many essays and book reviews. Holmes was also an avid letter-writer, and had active correspondence with family, friends, and other poets. Letter-writing was part of his daily writing routine, and served as a warm-up of sorts for the work of writing verse.

Holmes devoted considerable effort to fostering the development of young and budding poets with whom he came into contact. In addition to teaching poetry and creative writing at Tufts, he taught poetry workshops at the Boston Center for Adult Education, and directed or participated in writers' workshops at Tufts University, the University of New Hampshire at Durham, and the Chautauqua Writers' conference. Holmes also hosted an informal poetry circle among other Boston-area poets in the 1950s, a group which included May Sarton, Anne Sexton, and others. This group met regularly at Holmes' residence in Medford to read and comment on each others' work.

In 1933, Holmes married his first wife, Sara Frances Ludlow, with whom he had one son, John Ludlow Holmes. After his first wife's death, he married Doris Kirk in 1948 and had another son, Evan Kirk Holmes, and daughter, Margaret Nash Holmes. Holmes died June 22, 1962 following a long illness in Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

Following Holmes' death, his papers including manuscripts of almost 1,000 poems were given to the University Archives.

Source: History from the biographical sketch of the John A. Holmes Collection, MS007.

 
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Dame, Lorin Low, 1838-1903
Dana, Charles A., 1881-1975
Dana Laboratory, 1963
Daniel Ounjian Prize in Economics,
Davies, Caroline Stodder, 1864-1939
Davies House, 1894
De Florez Prize in Human Engineering, 1964
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Dean Hall, 1887-1963
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
Dearborn, Heman Allen, 1831-1897
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, 1893
Department of Anesthesia, 1970
Department of Art and Art History, 1930
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Department of Community Health, 1930
Department of Dermatology, 1897
The Department of Economics, 1946
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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
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Department of Neuroscience, 1983
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 1906
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Department of Pediatrics, 1930
Department of Pharmacology, 1915
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1854
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Department of Radiation Oncology, 1968
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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
Department of Surgery, 1893
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 1973
Department of Urology, 1910
Dental Health Sciences Building, 1969
Dewick, Cora Alma (Polk), 1875-1977
Dewick/MacPhie Dining Hall, 1959
Dickson Professorship of English and American History, 1913
Dirlam, Arland A., 1905-1979
Dog Cart, 1900
Dolbear, Amos Emerson, 1837-1910
Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
The Drug Bust, 1970
Dudley, Henry Watson, 1831-1906
Dugger, Edward Jr., 1919-75
Durkee, Frank W., 1861-1939
Durkee, Henrietta Noble Brown, 1871-1946
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The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.

This object is in collection:
Digital Collections and Archives Records
Subjects
Tufts University--History
Permanent URL
http://hdl.handle.net/10427/14829
ID: tufts:UA069.005.DO.00001
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