North American Scholar

FITTS, Dudley

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1903-04-28
  • Born City: Boston
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: Dudley Thomas & Edith Kimball Eaton F.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1968-07-10
  • Death City: Lawrence
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Married: Cornelia Butler Hewitt Fitts, 2 Sept. 1939.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1925; LL.D. Columbia, 1968.

  • Professional Experience:

    Master in English, Choate School, 1926-41; organist & assoc. choirmaster, 1934-41; instr. Engl. Phillips Acad. (Andover, MA), 1941-68; Phi Beta Kappa poet, Harvard, 1961; staff member Bread Loaf Writers Conference, 1961; poetry judge, National Book Award, 1954, 1960; Emilie Belden Cochran Foundation, 1948; grant recipient, AAAL, 1948; fellow, Jonathan Edwards Coll., Yale, 1964-8; member, Board of Visitors, English dept. Harvard; ed., Yale Series of Younger Poets, 1960-8; member, AAAS; Am. Acad. Poets (Chancellor 1967); NIAL.

  • Publications:

    Poems 1929-1936 (Norfolk, CT, 1937); Office Hymns of the Church, ed. with Carl F. Pfatteicher (Boston, 1951); The Poetic Nuance (New York, 1958).Translations: Anthologia Graeca (Norfolk, CT, 1938); More Poems from the Palatine Anthology (Norwalk, CT, 1941); Lysistrata (New York, 1954); The Frogs (New York, 1955); The Birds (New York, 1957); Ladies'Day (New York, 1959); Sixty Poems of Martial (New York, 1967); with Robert Fitzgerald: Alcestis of Euripides (New York, 1936); Antigone of Sophocles (New York, 1939); Sophocles. Oedipus Rex (New York, 1949); The Oedipus Cycle (New York, 1949, 1958). Editions: Ten Introductions: A Collection of Modern Verse, ed. with Genevieve Taggard (New York, 1934); Anthology of Contemporary Latin-American Poetry (Norwalk, CT, 1942); Greek Plays in Modern Translation (New York, 1947, 1962); Six Greek Plays in Modern Translation (New York, 1955); Four Greek Plays (New York, 1960); Aristophanes. Four Comedies (New York, 1962).

  • Notes:

    It was a rare privilege, eagerly sought, to attend a class in Bulfinch Number Two, to listen to a Fitts reading, to be led through a text, to be called upon to recite, to have something you had written keenly scrutinized and commented upon sharply, sometimes acidly, but always constructively. Measure of the success of his teaching is the number of poets, novelists, and dramatists who once sat in that room. But the remarkable thing about Dudley Fitts was the appeal that he held for both young and old, for students and faculty. A large part of this appeal as a teacher came from the sense his students had that they were listening to and talking with a man actively engaged in the arts.Columbia University, in presenting Dudley Fitts the degree of Doctor of Letters, said: “Poet, teacher, scholar, and musician, you embrace diverse disciplines with talents of wit and taste, with a clear perception of antiquity and with a full appreciation of its joys for twentieth-century man. As a scholar and translator of your Greek and Roman predecessors, you evoke images of ancient cultures by their presentation in colloquial English. As a teacher for nearly half a century you have inspired the study of literature in many who later emerged as creative writers and critics of their generation. As a musician you provide for those fortunate members of your audiences translations of another kind, exploiting the magnificence of organ tones in giving expression to extraordinary richness in contrapuntal writing.”Some years ago there was one of those parties at which each guest was to bring a gift accompanied by some witty limerick. We all awaited the Fitts contribution. When it came, it simply read, “It's from Fitts.” So many things came from Fitts that it was impossible to contemplate his retirement with any kind of equanimity

  • Sources:

    William H. Brown, Andover Bulletin (August 1968) 8-9; NYTimes (11 July 1968) 37; WhAm 5:236.

  • Author: William H. Brown