E. E. Cummings

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Edward Estlin Cummings (October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962), popularly known as E. E. Cummings, with the abbreviated form of his name often written by others in lowercase letters as e.e. cummings (in the style of some of his poems), was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. His body of work encompasses approximately 2,900 poems, two autobiographical novels, four plays and several essays, as well as numerous drawings and paintings. He is remembered as a preeminent voice of 20th century poetry, as well as one of the most popular.

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Early years

Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 1894, elder of two children to Edward Cummings and Rebecca Haswell Clarke.[1] His younger sister, Elizabeth, was born in 1901.

He was named after his father but his family called him by his middle name, Estlin.[2] His father was a professor of sociology and political science at Harvard University and later a Unitarian minister.[3] Cummings described his father as a person who could accomplish anything that he wanted to. Edward was well skilled and was always working on repairing things. He and his son were close, and Edward was one of Estlin's most ardent supporters.

His mother never partook in stereotypically "feminine" things, and enjoyed reading poetry to her children. Raised in a well-educated family, Cummings was a precocious boy and his mother encouraged Estlin to write poetry every day. He wrote his first poem when he was only three: "Oh,the pretty birdie,O;/with his little toe,toe,toe!"[4]

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