Elaine Feinstein

Elaine Feinstein’s poetry and fiction was profoundly shaped by both her own Jewish heritage and her passion for the work of modern Russian poets including Marina Tsvetayeva. Feinstein graduated from Cambridge University in 1952 and earned an MA in English literature there in 1955. She published her first volume of poetry, In a Green Eye, in 1966 and her first novel, The Circle, in 1970. She taught at Stortford Training College from 1960–1966 and at the University of Essex from 1967–1970 while translating Tsvetayeva’s poetry (which she published in 1970) and writing her own. As a woman and a Jew from poor, industrial northern Britain, Feinstein rooted her work in an outsider’s perspective, and, unusually for British poets at the time, she also sought inspiration from both American and Russian poets, including Charles Olsen and Alexander Pushkin. As of 2017 she has written eight biographies, three translations of Russian poets, sixteen collections of her own poems, and fifteen novels. Among her many honors for her writing and translation, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1980 and won the prestigious Cholmondeley Award for Poets in 1990.


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Elaine Feinstein reading at the Shaar International Poetry Festival in Tel Aviv, 2010. Photo credit Kaido Vainomaa, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Date of Birth

United Kingdom

Writer, Poet, Professor

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Elaine Feinstein." (Viewed on August 12, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/feinstein-elaine>.


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