Margaret Widdemer was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania on September 30, 1884. Although she was born in Doylestown she grew up in Asbury, Park. It was here that her father, Howard T. Widdemer, was a minister at the First Congregational Church.
Early Life and Education
Widdemer began writing when she was only a child and as a young woman she was educated at the Drexel Institute Library School. This institution is a private research university located in Philadelphia. It was founded only a few years before Widdemer’s attendance and is known today for the innovative nature of its programs. She graduated from Drexel Institute in 1909.
Widdemer’s first work, The Rose-Garden, a fiction novel, was published in 1915. It was later adapted into the 1917 film, A Wife on Trial. Her next novel, Why not?, followed its predecessor in 1916. It too was adapted into a film.
Margaret Widdemer’s first collection of poetry, The Factories and Other Poems, was published in 1917 and detailed the horrors of child labor. She used her art to draw attention to social issues she felt passionately about. This work was followed by The Old Road to Paradise in 1918. Her poetry was traditional in format, conforming to the most strict of poetic norms. The collection, The Old Road to Paradise, would later tie with Carl Sandburg’s Cornhuskers for the Pulitzer Prize; which was known as the Columbia University Prize at the time
In 1919 she married Robert Haven Schauffler. He was a widower, but only five years her senior. Schauffler was also a writer, as well as a cellist and war hero. He published biographies on a number of famous composer, such as Brahms, Schumann and Beethoven.
Later in her life Widdemer published a memoir titled, Golden Years I Had. It describes the remarkably friendships she cultivated with the likes of Edna St. Vincent Millay, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound.
Throughout her life Widdemer published nine collections of poetry, the final entitled, Dark Cavalier, was released in 1958. She was also a prolific novelist, altogether writing nine children’s books and more than thirty works of fiction for adults. Widdemer was also the recipient of a number of awards, these included the Lyric Prize, the Literary Review Prize for Satire and the Trimmed Lamp Prize. Additionally, Widdemer served as the vice president top the Poetry Society of America.
She died in 1978 in New York City.