David Noyes Jackson

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David Jackson
Authors James Merrill and David Jackson at home in Athens, Greece, October 1973.
Authors James Merrill and David Jackson at home in Athens, Greece, October 1973.
Born(1922-09-16)September 16, 1922
DiedJuly 13, 2001(2001-07-13) (aged 78)
OccupationWriter, artist
Notable works'The Changing Light at Sandover, (collaborator and 'medium')
PartnerJames Merrill

David Noyes Jackson (September 16, 1922 – July 13, 2001) was the life partner of poet James Merrill (1926–1995).


A writer and artist, Jackson is remembered today primarily for his literary collaboration with Merrill. The two men met in May 1953 in New York City, after a performance of Merrill's play, "The Bait." They shared homes in Stonington, Connecticut; Athens, Greece; and Key West, Florida. "It was, I often thought, the happiest marriage I knew," wrote Alison Lurie,[citation needed] who got to know both men in the 1950s and thought enough of the relationship to write a memoir about it more than forty years later, Familiar Spirits (2001).

Over the course of decades conducting séances with a Ouija board, Merrill and Jackson took down supernatural transcriptions and messages from otherworldly entities. Merrill's and Jackson's ouija transcriptions were first published in verse form in The Book of Ephraim (printed for the first time in Divine Comedies, 1976, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1977).

Many critics consider Jackson to be a kind of co-writer, certainly the catalyst if not the medium, for much of James Merrill's most significant poetic output.[citation needed] The Book of Ephraim (1976), Mirabell: Books of Number (1978), and Scripts for the Pageant (1980) were all written with Jackson's assistance. Together, they constitute the epic trilogy The Changing Light at Sandover, a 560-page apocalyptic poem published in its entirety in 1982.

He and James Merrill are buried side by side at Evergreen Cemetery, Stonington. Jackson's former wife and Merrill's friend, Doris Sewell Jackson is buried behind them.