Life and career
Vendler has written books on Emily Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, John Keats, and Seamus Heaney. She has been a professor of English at Harvard University since 1984; between 1981 and 1984 she taught alternating semesters at Harvard and Boston University. In 1990 she was appointed to an endowed chair as the A. Kingsley Porter University Professor. She is the first woman to hold this position. She has also taught at Cornell University, Swarthmore and Smith Colleges, and Boston University. She married (then later divorced) the philosopher Zeno Vendler with whom she had one son. In 1992 Vendler received a Litt. D. from Bates College.
Vendler did not major in English as an undergraduate. She earned an A.B. in chemistry at Emmanuel College. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for mathematics, before earning her Ph.D. in English & American Literature from Harvard. She has also been a judge for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award, in poetry.
In 2004, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Vendler for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Vendler's lecture, entitled "The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar," used a number of poems by Wallace Stevens to argue for the role of the arts (as opposed to history and philosophy) in the study of humanities.
- Yeats's Vision and the Later Plays (1963)
- On Extended Wings: Wallace Stevens' Longer Poems, Harvard University Press (1969)
- I. A. Richards: Essays in His Honor (1973) editor with Reuben Brower and John Hollander
- The Poetry of George Herbert, Harvard University Press (1975)
- Part of Nature Part of Us: Modern American Poets, Harvard University Press (1980)
- "What We have Loved, Others Will Love" (1980)
- Modern American Poets (1981)
- Stevens: Poems (1982)
- The Odes of John Keats, Harvard University Press (1983)
- The Harvard Book of Contemporary American Poetry, Harvard University Press (1985) editor
- The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry (1986)
- Wallace Stevens: Words Chosen out of Desire, Harvard University Press (1986)
- Voices and Visions: The Poet in America (1987)
- Music of What Happens: Poems, Poets, Critics, Harvard University Press (1988)
- Poems by W. B. Yeats Selected and with an introduction by Helen Vendler (), Arion Press (1990)
- The Given and the Made: Strategies of Poetic Redefinition, Harvard University Press (1995)
- Herman Melville: Selected Poems selected and with an introduction by Helen Vendler, Arion Press (1995)
- John Keats, 1795-1995: With a Catalogue of the Harvard Keats Collection, Harvard University Press (1995) with Leslie A. Morris and William H. Bond
- The Breaking of Style: Hopkins, Heaney, Graham, Harvard University Press (1995)
- The Given and the Made: Strategies of Poetic Redefinition (1995)
- Poems - Poets - Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology (1996)
- Soul Says: On Recent Poetry, Harvard University Press (1996) essays
- The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets, Harvard University Press (1997)
- Seamus Heaney, Harvard University Press (1998)
- Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry (2003) editor
- Coming of Age as a Poet: Milton, Keats, Eliot, Plath Harvard University Press(2003)
- Poets Thinking: Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats, Harvard University Press (2004)
- Invisible Listeners: Lyric Intimacy in Herbert, Whitman, and Ashbery (2005)
- Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form, Harvard University Press (2007)
- Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill (2010)
- Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries' (2010)
- The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar: Essays on Poets and Poetry (2015)
- date & year of birth, full name according to LCNAF CIP data
- Rachel Donadio, "The Closest Reader," New York Times, December 10, 2006. ("She is also the leading poetry critic in America, the author of major books on Wallace Stevens, Keats and Shakespeare, and for a generation has been a powerful arbiter of the contemporary poetry scene.")
- Nicholas A. Basbanes, Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World, HarperCollins, New York, 2005, pp. 238--246.
- Stein, Lorin (December 2010). "New Books: Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries". Harper's. Harper's Magazine Foundation. 321 (1,927): 75. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
Helen Vendler is... the reigning doyenne of American poetry criticism
- Joel A. Getz, "Vendler Accepts English Dept. Appointment," Harvard Crimson, December 10, 1984.
- List of Bates College Honorands
- Helen Vendler's CV
- Jefferson Lecturers at NEH Website (retrieved January 22, 2009).
- Joshua D. Gottlieb, "Vendler Tapped for National Lecture," Harvard Crimson, March 12, 2004.
- Helen Vendler, "The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar", text of Jefferson Lecture at NEH website.
- See for example her remarks about Stevens's Harmonium and its various poems, such as Le Monocle de Mon Oncle and Bantam in Pine Woods
- Sam Teller, "Vendler Advocates Larger Role for Arts in Academia," Harvard Crimson, March 15, 2005.
- "Gruppe 4: Litteraturvitenskap" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- Invisible Listeners Book (Princeton University Press)
- "The Closest Reader." (New York Times Profile)
- Helen Vendler author page and archive from The New York Review of Books
- Vendler audio interview on the friendship and correspondence between poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell
- Henri Cole (Winter 1996). "Helen Vendler, The Art of Criticism No. 3". The Paris Review.
- Recorded at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico on January 22, 2003. Audio file 1 hr 20 mins. Discussion on W. B. Yeats and poetic forms
- 'The Finite Furnished with the Infinite', review of Dickinson in The Oxonian Review