A protege of Marianne Moore, and a good friend of Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. After her father's death and her mother's institutionalization, Elizabeth Bishop lived with her Canadian grandparents in Nova Scotia for a few years, and later with her father's family in Boston, Massachusetts. She attended two different boarding schools, and in 1934 graduated from Vassar College.
In 1956, Bishop won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection of poetry, North & South - A Cold Spring. For her poetry, Bishop was awarded the Houghton Mifflin poetry award in 1946, and later, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Neustadt Prize for Literature. Elizabeth Bishop also received two Guggenheim fellowships.
Elizabeth Bishop travelled widely during her lifetime, living in New York, Key West, and, for sixteen years, in Brazil with her companion Lota de Macedo Soares.
Bishop often contributed articles to The New Yorker, and in 1964, wrote the obituary for Flannery O'Connor in The New York Review of Books.
Bishop lectured in higher education for a number of years. For a short time she taught at the University of Washington, before moving to Harvard for seven years, after which she taught at New York University, before finishing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
After her death in 1979, Bishop's reputation grew beyond the small critical fame she had developed during her lifetime.