Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay (mĬlā´), 1892–1950, American poet, b. Rockland, Maine, grad. Vassar College, 1917. One of the most popular poets of her era, Millay was admired as much for the bohemian freedom of her youthful lifestyle as for her verse. During the early 1920s she lived in Greenwich Village, New York City, and wrote satiric sketches for Vanity Fair under the pseudonym Nancy Boyd. Among her friends were Edmund Wilson and John Peale Bishop.

Renascence, her first volume of poetry, appeared in 1917 and was praised for its freshness and vitality. It was followed by A Few Figs from Thistles (1920), Second April (1921), and The Ballad of the Harp Weaver (1922; Pulitzer Prize). She also was a member of the Provincetown Players, a group that produced several of her verse dramas, including Aria da Capo (1920) and Two Slatterns and a King (1921).

In 1923 she married Eugen Jan Boissevain, a Dutch coffee importer, and moved to "Steepletop," a farm near Austerlitz, N.Y. Although her socially conscious later poetry is generally considered inferior to her early work, it exhibits her absolute mastery of the sonnet form. Among her later volumes are Fatal Interview (1931), a superb sonnet cycle; Conversation at Midnight (1937); and Make Bright the Arrows (1940). She also wrote the libretto for Deems Taylor's opera The King's Henchman (1927) and, with George Dillon, she translated Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil (1936). Eugen Boissevain died in the autumn of 1949, and Millay died less than a year later. In 1976, "Steepletop" opened as an arts colony.

See her collected poems, ed. by N. Millay (1956); her letters, ed. by A. R. Macdougal (1952); biographies by J. Gould (1969), D. M. Epstein (2001), and N. Milford (2001); study by N. A. Brittin (rev. ed. 1982).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Millay at 100: A Critical Reappraisal
Diane P. Freedman.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1995
Millay in Greenwich Village
Anne Cheney.
University of Alabama Press, 1975
Collected Sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Harper & Row, 1941
Collected Lyrics of Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Harper & Brothers, 1943
FREE! A Few Figs from Thistles: Poems and Sonnets
Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Harper & Brothers, 1922
Desiring Voices: Women Sonneteers and Petrarchism
Mary B. Moore.
Southern Illinois University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "A Fitting Form Edna St. Vincent Millay and Petrarchism"
Faith of a (Woman) Writer
Alice Kessler-Harris; William McBrien.
Greenwood Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 15 "Edna St. Vincent Millay--Saint of the Modern Sonnet"
Making Love Modern: The Intimate Public Worlds of New York's Literary Women
Nina Miller.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Lectures on Some Modern Poets
Margaret Foster Leclair; Beekman W. Cottrell; Erwin R. Steinberg; A. Fred Sochatoff; Dorothy W. Goodfellow.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1955
Librarian’s tip: "Edna St. Vincent Millay" p. 25
FREE! Renascence, and Other Poems
Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Harper & Brothers, 1917
The Princess Marries the Page: A Play in One Act
Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Harper & Brothers, 1932
The King's Henchman: A Play in Three Acts
Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1927
American Women Writers, 1900-1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook
Laurie Champion.
Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Edna St. Vincent Millay" p. 231
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