Robert Underwood Johnson (1853-1937)

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Robert Underwood Johnson (1853-1937) wrote seven books of poetry and a memoir. A few of his poetry books include Songs of Liberty and Other Poems (1897), Saint Gaudens: An Ode (1910), and Italian Rhapsody and Other Poems of Italy (1917). He was also a staff writer, then associate editor, then editorial chair of Washington DC's The Century Magazine. He wrote for and edited Scribner's Monthly as well. Johnson’s son also became a writer. Along with his writing career, Johnson helped lead the process of founding Yosemite National Park and encouraged the beginning of the Sierra Club. He was also very involved in copyrighting and publishing, serving as secretary of the American Copyright League, then for the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was also chairman of the American Poets’ Ambulance in Italy, president of the New York Committee of the Italian War Relief Fund of America, then the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, and he represented America at the San Remo conference of the Supreme Council of the League. The Italian government decorated Johnson for his efforts for their country’s relations with America. Johnson’s poetry was influenced by his love of Italy and admiration for the Romantics such as Keats. It has uniquely mystic and rhythmic qualities. AND

Written by Monica Root December 2013

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