Helen von Kolnitz Hyer

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Helen von Kolnitz Hyer
Born Helen von Kolnitz
(1896-12-30)December 30, 1896
Charleston, South Carolina
Died November 14, 1983(1983-11-14) (aged 86)
Beaufort, South Carolina
Occupation Poet, writer
Alma mater Simmons College
Notable awards South Carolina Poet Laureate
Spouse Edward Allen Hyer
Children 4

Helen von Kolnitz Hyer (December 30, 1896 – November 14, 1983) was an American poet. She was named by Governor John C. West as the second South Carolina Poet Laureate from 1974 to 1983.



Hyer was born in Charleston, South Carolina on December 30, 1896. Her parents were George and Sarah Conover (Holmes) von Kolnitz. She graduated from Ashley Hall in Charleston and then proceeded to study at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1917 to 1918, studying library science.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

She married Edward Allen Hyer in 1921.[2] They had four daughters and one son.[1] The couple lived in Michigan for many years, returning to Charleston in 1941.[2]

Hyer died in Beaufort, South Carolina, on November 14, 1983. She was buried a Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.[1]

Literary career[edit]

Hyer's poetry career began early in life as she was recognized for her ability to memorize and recite poetry. One of her poems became the school song for Ashley Hall. Publication of her poetry began when she was just 17; first in Romance magazine, then in Adventure Magazine.[1]

Leaving college during World War I, Hyer made her way back to Charleston, becoming a statistician and subsequently was named Curator of Public Instruction at the Charleston Museum.[2]

She was a founding member of the Poetry Society of South Carolina in 1920.[3] Hyer wrote many works for children as well as adults. Her work often centered on the South, focusing on Confederate heroes, the history of South Carolina, as well as romance in the South. Her work appeared in journals such as Poet Lore, Argosy and The Christian Science Monitor.[1]

In 2003, composer Jim Clemens was commissioned to create a choral arrangement for the Georgetown Indigo Choral Society. He used lyrics from Hyer's poem "Santee Lullaby" in his first movement.[1][4]

Poet laureateship[edit]

Hyer was named South Carolina's second poet laureate by Governor John West in April 1974. She served until her death in 1983.[1][2]



  • Santee Songs (1923)
  • On Shiny Wings (1926)
  • Hurricane Harbor (1927)
  • The Magnificent Squeak (1929)
  • Wine Dark Sea (1930)
  • Stories By Seasons (1930)
  • The Wimp and the Woodle, and Other Stories (1935)
  • Danger Never Sleeps (1970)
  • What the Wind Forgets a Woman's Heart Remembers (1975)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Hyer, Helen von Kolnitz". The South Carolina Encyclopedia. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. 2006. p. 471. ISBN 978-1-57003-598-2. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Helen von Kolnitz Hyer". South Carolina Center for the Book. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Yuhl, Stephanie E. (2005). A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making Of Historic Charleston. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-8078-5599-7. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Sing Out About Georgetown". The Myrtle Beach Sun News. July 3, 2003. p. C2. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen, Paul Edward (November 1976). "Helen von Kolnitz Hyer" (PDF). The South Carolina Review. 9 (1). Retrieved December 28, 2012. 

External links[edit]