Laura Riding Jackson

Laura Riding Jackson (1901-1991) was a widely noted poet, essayist, novelist, critic, and writer of short fiction in the 20th century. Born Laura Reichenthal in New York city to Jewish immigrant parents, Laura went on to study at Cornell University where she began her writing career under the pseudonym Laura Riding.

Her poetry was soon praised by the Fugitives, a southern literary group who had a magazine under the same name, and she became the groups only female member. By 1924, Laura moved to England to collaborate with English poet and writer Robert Graves. There she maintained a 12 year relationship with Graves and his wife, in which Laura referred to as “three-life”. Laura and Robert founded The Seizin Press in London in 1927, before moving to Mallorca, Spain. By 1939, Laura had moved back to the states and just a year later renounced writing poetry to pursue what she considered “something better in our linguistic way of life than we have”.


Laura married Schuyler Jackson in 1941, and by 1943 they moved to Wabasso, Florida and bought a small frame home on 11 acres of citrus groves. They spent the remainder of their years organically growing and selling citrus while working on an unprecedented dictionary “in which each word would have only one definition”.  Laura completed her project before her death in 1991, and her book, Rational Meaning: A New Foundation for the Definition of Words and Supplementary Essays, was published in 1997 by University Press of Virginia.


Here in Special Collections, we house many of Laura’s completed works. If you would like to explore her handwritten correspondences and manuscripts, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm, by appointment only. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at

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