Middlebrook, who taught at Stanford for 35 years, was perhaps best known for Anne Sexton: A Biography. Its intense scrutiny of the poet's life made it "one of the turning points of late 20th-century biography," according to the newspaper. Middlebrook published several other well-received biographies and works of criticism, and was known for funding various arts organizations and literary salons for women. Born in Pocatello, Idaho, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Washington in 1961 and earned her Ph.D. from Yale in 1968. She married Carl Djerassi, inventor of the birth-control pill in 1985.