Born in Baltimore in 1929, Rich was the elder of two daughters of a Jewish father and a Protestant mother — a mixed heritage that she recalled in her autobiographical poem "Sources." Her father, a doctor and medical professor at Johns Hopkins University, encouraged her to write poetry at an early age.
Rich graduated from Radcliffe College in 1951 and was chosen for the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her first book of poetry, "A Change of World."
Living in Cambridge, Mass., she befriended Merwin, Donald Hall and other poets. In 1966, her family moved to New York City when her husband accepted a teaching position at City College. Soon after she left Conrad, he committed suicide.
Rich taught remedial English to poor students entering college before teaching writing at Swarthmore College, Columbia University School of the Art and City University of New York.
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