Claudia Emerson was born on January 13, 1957 in Chatham, Virginia. She received a bachelor's of arts degree in English at the University of Virginia in 1979 and a master's degree in fine arts in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1991. Her collections of poetry included Pharaoh, Pharaoh; Pinion: An Elegy; Figure Studies: Poems; Secure the Shadow; The Opposite House; and Impossible Bottle. She received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2006 for Late Wife. She served as Virginia's poet laureate from 2008 to 2010. She taught at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg and at Virginia Commonwealth University. She died on December 4, 2014 from complications associated with colon cancer at the age of 57.