For locals invested in Bellingham’s culture, the name “Ella Higginson” is generally familiar. Literary enthusiasts may know her as Washington’s first Poet Laureate. Western Washington University visitors may know that the façade of Edens Hall quotes her (“Here is the Home of Color and of Light”). However, significantly fewer people recognize Ella Higginson’s untold influence on Bellingham and Pacific Northwest literature.
Higginson was born 1862 in Kansas and grew up in Oregon. In 1888, Higginson and her husband, Russell, moved to New Whatcom, where they remained and built a locally famous house. Higginson’s more than 800 works—poems, fiction, and essays—inspired nationwide fascination with our region.
“Ella Higginson put the Pacific Northwest on the literary map,” says Dr. Laura Laffrado, an English professor at Western Washington University. “She created the Pacific Northwest in the minds of people who would never be here.”