Where some of her notable contemporaries like Robert Lowell and John Berryman made the intimate details of their personal lives an important part of their poetry, Bishop avoided this practice altogether.  In contrast to this confessional style involving large amounts of self-exposure, Bishop's style of writing, though it sometimes involved sparse details from her personal life, was known for its highly detailed, objective, and distant point of view and for its reticence on the kinds of personal subject matter that the work of her contemporaries involved. She used discretion when writing about details and people from her own life. "In the Village", a piece about her childhood and mentally unstable mother, is written as a third person narrative, and so the reader would only know of the story's autobiographical origins by knowing about Bishop's childhood. 
Born in 1911, Elizabeth Bishop experienced a chaotic early life following the death of her father when she was not yet one, and her mother’s subsequent mental problems meant she was committed when the poet was five. She never saw her mother again. As a result, she was moved around considerably during her childhood before being sent to an elite school by her paternal grandparents. After graduating from Vassar College she spent many years travelling, scenes of which are reflected in her poetry, and later spent some time in Brazil. Here she led a life under scrutiny from the locals in Petrópolis, the town where she lived with her female lover: the architect Lota de Macedo Soares. Soares took her own life in 1967 and after this Bishop returned to the United States where she became a teacher at Harvard. She received the Pulitzer Prize and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.