Poet and writer Ella Rhoads Higginson was born in Council Grove, Kansas. Her family relocated to Oregon early in Higginson’s childhood, and she grew up in Portland and Oregon City, attending public school while receiving tutoring from renowned educator S.D. Pope. In 1885 she married Russell C. Higginson. The couple settled in Bellingham, Washington, where they opened a drugstore. During this period Higginson began to publish her poetry and stories in national journals.

Higginson’s poetry collections include When the Birds Go North Again (1902), which was praised by the New York Times for its “depth and delicacy of feeling,” and The Vanishing Race and Other Poems (1911). She was named poet laureate of Washington State in 1931.

Higginson also published numerous novels and short story collections, including The Flower that Grew in the Sand (1896), The Forest Orchid and Other Stories (1897), and Mariella-of-Out-West (1902).


Higginson played an active role in promoting arts, education, and women’s rights in Bellingham. She helped found the city’s first library and was an honorary member of the Progressive Literary and Fraternal Club, the Bellingham Soroptimists, and the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs. Higginson served as campaign manager for Frances C. Axtell, the first woman elected to Washington State’s House of Representatives.


Higginson died in Bellingham. Her papers are collected at Western Washington University’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies.

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