|Lowell's rejection of the intellectual and spiritual pedigree he was born to as the son of a prominent New England family initiated his break with American tradition, underscoring his participation in the establishment of a new American poetry for the mid-20th-century. His first significant gesture of independence occurred when he left Harvard University to camp in the backyard of Allen Tate's Tennessee home. The men in his family had attended Harvard for generations, but, moved by Tate's inspiration after a summer in his yard talking poetry, he transferred to Kenyon University on Tate's recommendation, where he encountered the influential figures Randall Jarrell and John Crowe Ransome. He further distanced himself by enrolling in graduate school at Louisiana State, where he married the writer Jean Stafford, his first of three wives. Though this constitutes a rejection of the life offered by his New England heritage, his true departure occurred when he converted from New England Protestantism to join the Roman Catholic Church, marginalizing himself in the act of conversion and freeing his poetry. The next major split with his past occurred when Lowell, whose father was an officer in the Navy, declared himself a conscientious objector during World War II when he disagreed with the bombing of civilians in German cities. He was imprisoned for months as a result, and this experience found expression in his poem "Memories of West Street and Lepke." His first book, LAND OF UNLIKENESS was completed during this period. A significant revision of this volume, entitled LORD WEARY'S CASTLE, was honored the next year with a Pulitzer Prize, officially making Lowell a major voice in American poetry. In 1948 he divorced, then soon remarried and moved to Europe, where he began suffering from the intense bouts of manic depression that would intermittently plague him for the rest of his life. Lowell's psychiatrist suggested that he begin writing therapeutically about his childhood. The book this inspired, LIFE STUDIES, characterized as being in the "confessional" mode, was a radical departure for both Lowell and American poetry, and with the momentum of a few other books of the same nature, including W. D. Snodgrass's HEART'S NEEDLE, significantly influenced the voice of American lyricism. Throughout the remainder of his distinguished career, Lowell would artfully negotiate between the public and private in his verse. He became something of a public figure, befriending the Kennedys and publicly rejecting an invitation to the Johnson White House. Divorced and remarried again, Lowell died of a heart attack in the back of a cab when he was on his way from his third wife, Caroline Blackwood, to see his second, Elizabeth Hardwick. Lowell lived a turbulent life in a turbulent era, which is consistently expressed throughout his oeuvre. The professor of both Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, Lowell directly influenced the turn of American poetry toward the personal, inaugurating the exploration of subject matter that can now be delved into without embarrassment.