George Rolfe Humphries, noted poet, translator, teacher, critic and editor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 20, 1894. He attended Towanda High School and entered Amherst College in 1911. He taught Latin in secondary schools in San Francisco, New York City and Long Island through 1957. In 1925 he married Helen Ward Spencer. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in creative writing, 1938-1939. In 1957 Humphries joined the faculty of Amherst College as a Lecturer in the English Department. He retired in 1965.
Humphries' lasting achievement was as a poet and translator. His works of original verse include Europa and Other Poems and Sonnets, 1929; Out of the Jewel, 1942; The Summer Landscape, 1945; Forbid Thy Ravens, 1947; The Wind of Time, 1949; Poems Collected and New, 1954; His translations include The Poet in New York, a translation of Garcia Lorca, 1940; Virgil's Aeneid, 1951; Ovid's Metamorphoses: Art of Love, 1953, 1955; Juvenal's Satires, 1959; Selected Epigrams of Martial, ca. 1963. W.H. Auden called Humphries' translation of Virgil's Aeneid "a service for which no public reward could be too great."
Humphries is also notable as a mentor to many young poets, including Theodore Roethke. Among his literary friendships were those with Louise Bogan, Edmund Wilson, and Roethke. He taught at many poetry and creative writing workshops, including the University of New Hampshire Writers' Conference and the Writers' Conference in the Rocky Mountains at the University of Colorado.
Rolfe Humphries died on April 22, 1969 in Redwood City, California.