Emily Vermeule

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Emily Dickinson Townsend Vermeule ( August 11, 1928 – February 6, 2001) was an American classical scholar and archaeologist. She was emeritus professor of classical philology and archaeology at Harvard University.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Emily Dickinson Townsend was born on August 11, 1928 in New York City to Clinton Blake Townsend and Eleanor Mary Meneely.[1][2] She was named for her grandmother, a relative of the poet Emily Dickinson.[1]

She earned an undergraduate degree in Greek and philosophy at Bryn Mawr College in 1950.[1] And earned a master's degree in classical archaeology from Radcliffe College in 1954, and a Ph.D. in Greek from Bryn Mawr in 1956.[1] Her dissertation was on Bacchylides and lyric style.[2]

She married the archaeologist Cornelius Clarkson Vermeule III in 1957.[2] Together they had two children: Blakey Vermeule, a professor of English literature at Stanford University, and Adrian Vermeule, a professor at Harvard Law School.


As a Fulbright Scholar in 1950–1951, she attended the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.[3] As a Catherwood Fellow three years later, she studied at Oxford University. Emily was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1964–1965.[3]

She taught at Bryn Mawr, Wellesley College, Boston University and Harvard University.[1] Vermeule was teaching in both the classics and the history of art and architecture departments, and she became the Samuel Zemurray Jr. and Doris Zemurray-Stone Radcliffe Professor at Harvard University in 1970 until her 1994 retirement.[1]

In 1982 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Vermeule for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Her lecture was entitled "Greeks and Barbarians: The Classical Experience in the Larger World,"[4] and dealt with the relationship between the Greeks and their "less civilized" neighbors.[5]

In 1983 Vermeule received a Doctor of Letters from Bates College.[citation needed]

Death and legacy[edit]

She died of heart disease-related issues in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 6, 2001 at the age of 72.[1][3] Vermeule was one of the earliest female academics at Harvard University and helped shaped the faculty.[3] Vermeule was also a published poet, whose poems appeared in The New Yorker and Poetry Magazine.


  • The Trojan War in Greek Art (1964)
  • Greece in the Bronze Age (1964)
  • The Mycenaean Origin of Greek Mythology (1972) with Martin P. Nilsson
  • Toumba Tou Skourou. The Mound of Darkness. A Bronze Age Town on Morphou Bay in Cyprus (1974) with Florence Z. Wolsky
  • Aspects of Death in Early Greek Art and Poetry (1979)
  • Mycenaean Pictorial Vase Painting (1982) with Vassos Karageorghis


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Honan, William H. (2001-02-23). "Emily Vermeule, 72, a Scholar Of Bronze Age Archaeology". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-17. 
  2. ^ a b c Carter, Jane B.; Morris, Sarah P. (1998). The Ages of Homer: A Tribute to Emily Townsend Vermeule. University of Texas Press. p. 11. ISBN 0292712081. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Emily Dickinson Townsend Vermeule". Harvard Gazette. 2004-06-03. Retrieved 2017-12-17. 
  4. ^ Jefferson Lecturers at NEH Website (retrieved January 22, 2009).
  5. ^ David M. Rosenfeld, Classics Professor Vermeule To Deliver Jefferson Lecture, Harvard Crimson, February 22, 1982.

External links[edit]