Adrienne Rich, the award-winning poet and champion of women’s right, has died aged 82.

The American died in her home in California from complications arising from rheumatoid arthritis, a condition from which she had suffered for many years.

Rich’s seven-decade career was littered with literary honours, including the National Book Award for Poetry in 1974, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 1986 and the National Medal of Arts in 1997 - an award she refused in protest against what she saw as then-President Clinton’s anti-arts policies.

In the past 20 years she received a lifetime achievement award from the Lannan Foundation as well as the Griffin Poetry Prize and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

She published over a dozen volumes of poetry, first finding national acclaim in 1963 with her third collection Snapshots Of A Daughter-in-Law.


She would go on to become one of the leading poetic voices of the Vietnam war era, publishing Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 - a series of searing political commentaries and personal reflections that would be considered her masterpiece.

It won her the prestigious National Book Award which she refused to accept on her own, sharing the moment instead with Alice Walker and Audre Lorde, two other nominated feminist poets, and declaring it a victory for all women.

In 1953, Rich married Alfred Haskell Conrad, an economics professor at Harvard University, with whom she had three sons.

She left him in 1970 and began a relationship with the novelist Michelle Cliff, writing at the time that "the suppressed lesbian I had been carrying in me since adolescence began to stretch her limbs."

Rich’s political zeal and passion for human rights didn’t dim in later life and in the early 2000s she protested widely against the Iraq war.

In a fitting testament to the reach of her words, Twitter became awash with quotations as individuals reacted to the news of her death. Here's a selection:

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