Adrienne Cecile Rich was an American poet, essayist and feminist. Born to a middle-class family, Rich was educated by her parents until she entered public school in the fourth grade. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Radcliffe College in 1951, the same year her first book of poems, A Change of World, appeared. That volume, chosen by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and her next, The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems (1955), earned her a reputation as an elegant, controlled stylist.
In the 1960s, however, Rich began a dramatic shift away from her earlier mode as she took up political and feminist themes and stylistic experimentation in such works as Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963), The Necessities of Life (1966), Leaflets (1969), and The Will to Change (1971). In Diving into the Wreck (1973) and The Dream of a Common Language (1978), she continued to experiment with form and to deal with the experiences and aspirations of women from a feminist perspective.
In addition to her poetry, Rich has published many essays on poetry, feminism, motherhood, and lesbianism. Her recent collections include An Atlas of the Difficult World (1991) and Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995 (1995).