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Edna St Vincent Millay entry: Overview screen.
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Overview
Writing
Life
Writing and Life
Timeline
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Edna St Vincent Millay was a charismatic American poet of the earlier twentieth century, who through her lifestyle came to stand for the sexually and economically liberated woman of the 1920s. She wrote particularly sonnets, love lyrics, and plays, as well as short stories, a libretto, and life-writing in the form of diaries and letters. From the beginning her work included passionate anti-war writing, which paved the way during the early years of the second world war for polemic against America's isolationist stance. Her later poems reach a deeper and more serious register, but by then her reputation was already in sharp decline. In 1937 John Crowe Ransom accused her of "deficiency in masculinity." Though later commentators have generally been more tactful and less crass, a more recent poet, J. D. McClatchy, observes that this kind of "venomous condescension has echoed down the years." Bibliographic Citation link.
Milestones
22 February 1892 ESVM was born on George Washington's birthday in Rockland, a small town in Maine, the eldest of three sisters. Bibliographic Citation link.
October 1906 The fourteen-year-old ESVM published the poem "Forest Trees" in St Nicholas Magazine. Bibliographic Citation link.
June 1918 Harriet Monroe published in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse five poems by ESVM, including the one that has remained her best-known work, the single quatrain whose title, "First Fig", is less familiar than its entire text. Bibliographic Citation link.
September 1920 A Few Figs from Thistles: Poems and Four Sonnets (ESVM's second volume of verse, "made up in pretty, brightly coloured paper"), Bibliographic Citation link. came out while her Second April was still stalled at the proof stage. Bibliographic Citation link.
19 October 1942 Four months after Nazis massacred the inhabitants of the Czech village of Lidice, ESVM's long, dramatic verse narrative The Murder of Lidice was broadcast by NBC throughout both the USA and war-torn Europe. Bibliographic Citation link.
19 October 1950 ESVM died alone in the early hours of the morning at Steepletop, her home near Austerlitz, New York, in the Berkshire Hills, by falling downstairs. Bibliographic Citation link.
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