Jean Burden

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Jean Burden (September 1, 1914 – April 21, 2008) was an American poet, essayist, and author. She was the poetry editor for Yankee magazine for nearly fifty years. She wrote many cat care books under the pen name Felicia Ames for the Friskie Corporation.


Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Jean Prussing Burden was an only child. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 1936, and she and her husband David were married from 1940-1949. She had a long term love affair with Alan Wilson Watts and was described by him as an "important influence" on his work. She died at home in Altadena, California in April 2008.


During her career she served as West Coast editor of Faith Today and for nearly fifty years (1955–2002) was the poetry editor of Yankee Magazine. She published numerous books of poetry and essays, and her work appeared in many national magazines including Poetry, Atlantic, American Scholar, Trace, Saturday Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Better Homes and Gardens, Mademoiselle, Prairie Schooner, and Southern Review. She taught both privately and in workshops.

She also published six best-selling books on animal welfare and pet care, under the pseudonym Felicia Ames and served as administrative officer for the Meals for Millions Foundation in Los Angeles, California from 1956–1965, and did freelance public relations work.

Honors and awards[edit]

Burden was a three-time MacDowell Colony fellow and was named Poet Laureate of Altadena. In 1986 California State University established the Jean Burden Annual Poetry Series to honor her for her contributions as a poet, essayist, anthologist, teacher and editor, and for her long-standing support of poetry at the university. The series features a reading by a noted poet each year and has included Pulitzer Prize winners as well as Poet Laureate from England and the United States.

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