Hazel Hall was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota in February of 1886. While she was still young, her parents, Montgomery and Mary, moved her family to Portland, Oregon. Her father worked for the North Pacific Railway in the express division. Their family home in Portland would later be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and officially named, the Hazel Hall House.
Hall was known to be an energetic and exuberant child but her happy childhood was cut short when she was caught scarlet fever. While she survived the disease, it resulted in her confinement to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Early Life and Career
Her new paralysis kept her from attending school and she left while she was only in the fifth grade. Hall’s education was continued at home. It was here that she developed a passion for reading, particularly the works of writers such as Edna St. Vincent Millay and Emily Dickinson.
It was around the age of nine that she first began to write. It was not until her 20s that she looked at writing as anything other than a hobby. As a young woman Hall searched for work that could be done from home, and which would allow her to contribute to the family. She eventually started sewing professional. This included stitching dress for babies and bridal gowns for weddings as well as lingerie and Bishop’s cuffs. Images of sewing, as well as the world she saw from her window, feature prominently in Hall’s work.
It was well into her 20s that she first began writing poetry and it was not until 1916, when she was thirty, that her first poem was published. It appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript. Her poetry would later appear in The Masses, The Nation, Harper’s Magazine, as well as many others.
Later Life and Collected Works
Her first official collection was published in 1921 and was titled, Curtains. The volume included a number of poems revolving around needlework and how writing and sewing interact. This collection was followed by Walkers in 1923. This work concern human fellowship and collective sewing. Her final volume was published posthumously in 1928 and was titled, Cry of Time. It was primarily focused on mourning and goodbyes.
During her lifetime her work was seen as poignant and real. It was only recently, around the turn of the century, that her poetry was rediscovered. Hazel Hall died in May of 1924 at her home in Portland.