Cathy Curtis begins her new biography of Elizabeth Hardwick with an author’s note meant to head off trouble:

This biography of Elizabeth Hardwick includes only as much information about her famous husband, the poet Robert Lowell, as is necessary to tell the story of her life. Anyone looking for additional details can consult the three full-scale Lowell biographies by Ian Hamilton (1982), Paul Mariani (1994), and Kay Redfield Jamison (2017).

In response to my letters, Elizabeth’s daughter, Harriet Lowell, wrote that she is “a very private person” and declined to be interviewed. After Harriet came of age and lived independently, Elizabeth rarely mentioned her in letters to friends. For those reasons, she appears more frequently in this biography during her early...


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