Donald Hall was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1928. He began writing as an adolescent and attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at the age of sixteen—the same year he had his first work published. He earned a B.A. from Harvard in 1951 and a B. Litt. from Oxford in 1953.
Donald Hall has published numerous books of poetry, most recently White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006); The Painted Bed (2002) and Without: Poems (1998), which was published on the third anniversary of his wife and fellow poet Jane Kenyon's death from leukemia. Other notable collections include The One Day (1988), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination; The Happy Man (1986), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and Exiles and Marriages (1955), which was the Academy's Lamont Poetry Selection for 1956.
In a review of Hall's recent Selected Poems, Billy Collins wrote in the Washington Post: "Hall has long been placed in the Frostian tradition of the plainspoken rural poet. His reliance on simple, concrete diction and the no-nonsense sequence of the declarative sentence gives his poems steadiness and imbues them with a tone of sincere authority. It is a kind of simplicity that succeeds in engaging the reader in the first few lines."
Besides poetry, Donald Hall has written books on baseball, the sculptor Henry Moore, and the poet Marianne Moore. He is also the author of children's books, including Ox-Cart Man (1979), which won the Caldecott Medal; short stories, including Willow Temple: New and Selected Stories (Houghton Mifflin, 2003); and plays. He has also published several autobiographical works, such as The Best Day The Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon (2005) and Life Work (1993), which won the New England Book award for nonfiction.
Hall has edited more than two dozen textbooks and anthologies, including The Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America (1990), The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes (1981), New Poets of England and America (with Robert Pack and Louis Simpson, 1957), and Contemporary American Poetry (1962; revised 1972). He served as poetry editor of The Paris Review from 1953 to 1962, and as a member of editorial board for poetry at Wesleyan University Press from 1958 to 1964.
His honors include two Guggenheim fellowships, the Poetry Society of America's Robert Frost Silver medal, a Lifetime Achievement award from the New Hampshire Writers and Publisher Project, and the Ruth Lilly Prize for poetry. Hall also served as Poet Laureate of New Hampshire from 1984 to 1989. In December 1993 he and Jane Kenyon were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, "A Life Together." In the June 2006, Hall was appointed the Library of Congress's fourteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. He lives in Danbury, New Hampshire.