“I’ve never had quite the response to a literary biography that I’ve had to this one. As told by Leavell, the story of Marianne Moore’s psychological entrapment by her mother is the stuff of a monumental novel or play or opera.” —Bruce Bawer, The New Criterion.

“The moment is ripe for [Moore] to be restored to us, depixified and complex. And so she has been in a swift, cool but empathetic new biography...It says much for Ms. Leavell’s account of Moore’s life that for all the hard and hard-to-fathom facts it marshals, it leaves the miracles intact.” —Holland Cotter, The New York Times

“The poems come to seem a fortress, in which a world of sensory, intellectual and ethical transformations take place. This smart, provocative book lets us see the woman and her work without resorting to simplification.” —Daisy Fried, The New York Times Book Review

“As Linda Leavell's perceptive and elegant biography suggests, Moore was herself a sort of literary mermaid, not quite the same creature from top to bottom. As a girl, she adopted animal names and a male pronoun; as an adult, she unwaveringly obeyed her mother even as she disregarded literary conventions. Later on, she transformed herself from a poet for the elite into a poet for the masses and from Brooklyn recluse into beloved performer.” —Abigail Deutsch, The Wall Street Journal

*Five out of Five Stars* “At the heart of Linda Leavell’s revealing, respectful biography is a ‘tyrannical love.’. . . Leavell wields her wealth of material with great tact and conviction of the depth of love and understanding between Marianne and her mother.” —Lucy Daniel, The Telegraph (London)

Leavell’s skillful interpretations of both poems and often cryptic family letters yield a remarkably clear and sympathetic analysis of the internal forces that brought Moore’s talents to the fore and made the crafting of poetry “the only outlet for her individuality and ambition.” —Megan Marshall, The Washington Post

“A modernist master comes to vibrant life in Linda Leavell’s Holding On Upside Down.” —Megan O’Grady, Vogue online

“Linda Leavell’s fine new biography … is the first life of Moore to be done with the blessing of Moore’s executors … [and] the first … to characterize her mother unequivocally as a lesbian.” —Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker

“With a Moorish blend of precisely chosen details, high ethical standards, and love, [Leavell] rescues Moore from invisibility and restores her to the forefront of modernist poetry.” —Meg Schoerke, The Hudson Review

“Leavell writes very well indeed about a woman who found the metaphors to talk about a most unconventional childhood while observing and testing and questioning convention.” —Hilton Als, The New Yorker online

“Marianne Moore is a ‘poet of paradoxes,’ Leavell asserts at the outset of this superb, recalibrating biography . . . Leavell’s cogent interpretations of Moore’s poetry and chronicling of how diligently she pursued startling artistic innovation under her mother’s watchful eye . . . are equally revelatory. Like a sculptor working in clay, Leavell steadily builds up contour and texture as she portrays Moore as a poet of ‘sly wit’ and ‘undetected but stormy passion.’”—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“[Holding on Upside Down is] deliberate and sensitive—‘creeping slowly as with meditated stealth,’ in Moore’s words—capable of containing her many contradictions, most notably her desires for recognition and privacy.” —Parul Sehgal, Bookforum

“This first authorised biography is notably level-headed and clear, with much new information about Moore’s family and early life, health, finances and the father she never knew. With permission to quote from the archive . . . Leavell is able to provide a deeper psychological study of this ‘wonderful, amazing and delightful creature’, as Elizabeth Bishop called her.” —Jane Rye, The Spectator (UK)

Holding On Upside Down goes a long way toward restoring Moore’s place as a cornerstone of modern American poetry.” —Bruce Jacobs, Shelf Awareness

Holding On Upside Down is an essential addition to the canon of literary biography.” —Patrick James Dunagan, Rain Taxi

“Finally, Marianne Moore has a biography that does justice to the richness, complexity, and significance of her writing career . . . Holding on Upside Down combines the grace, humor, and compelling story line one expects in good fiction with the detail of formidable scholarship, definitively deconstructing myths about Moore that have prevented too many readers and scholars from expending the effort required to deal seriously with her work . . . Whether you are interested in a good summer read or in taking notes on Leavell’s scholarly excavations, you will like this book. It is a magnificent biography.” —Cristanne Miller, MODERNISM / modernity

“In this well-researched biography, Moore emerges as a poet of freedom with a passionate inner life.” —Publishers Weekly