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© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Edna St. Vincent Millay: Selected full-text books and articles

Millay at 100: A Critical Reappraisal By Diane P. Freedman Southern Illinois University Press, 1995
Millay in Greenwich Village By Anne Cheney University of Alabama Press, 1975
Collected Sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay By Edna St. Vincent Millay Harper & Row, 1941
Collected Lyrics of Edna St. Vincent Millay By Edna St. Vincent Millay Harper & Brothers, 1943
FREE! A Few Figs from Thistles: Poems and Sonnets By Edna St. Vincent Millay Harper & Brothers, 1922
Desiring Voices: Women Sonneteers and Petrarchism By 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 By Alice Kessler-Harris; William McBrien Greenwood Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 15 "Edna St. Vincent Millay--Saint of the Modern Sonnet"
Lectures on Some Modern Poets By 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 By Edna St. Vincent Millay Harper & Brothers, 1917
The Princess Marries the Page: A Play in One Act By Edna St. Vincent Millay Harper & Brothers, 1932
The King's Henchman: A Play in Three Acts By Edna St. Vincent Millay Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1927
American Women Writers, 1900-1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook By Laurie Champion Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Edna St. Vincent Millay" p. 231
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