Edna St Vincent Millay

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ESVM 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.
Millay, Edna St Vincent. “Introduction”. Selected Poems, edited by J. D. McClatchy, The Library of America, 2003, p. xvii - xxxiii.
xix
Black and white, shoulder-length photograph of Edna St Vincent Millay by Carl Van Vechten, 1933. She is wearing a black jacket with white collar, and a shirt and necklace. Her hair is cut to jaw-length and her head turned to look down.
"Edna St Vincent Millay" Retrieved from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Edna_St._Vincent_Millay_1933_van_Vechten.jpg. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

Milestones

22 February 1892
ESVM was born on George Washington 's birthday in Rockland, a small town in Maine, the eldest of three sisters.
American National Biography.
Milford, Nancy. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Random House, 2001.
18
October 1906
The fourteen-year-old ESVM published the poem Forest Trees in St Nicholas Magazine.
Brittin, Norman A., editor. Edna St. Vincent Millay. Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1967.
2
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.
Milford, Nancy. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Random House, 2001.
xiii, 160
September 1920
A Few Figs from Thistles: Poems and Four Sonnets (ESVM 's second volume of verse, made up in pretty, brightly coloured paper),
Milford, Nancy. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Random House, 2001.
198
came out while her Second April was still stalled at the proof stage.
Yost, Karl, and Harold Lewis Cook. A Bibliography of the Works of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Harper, 1965.
82-83
Milford, Nancy. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Random House, 2001.
198
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.
Milford, Nancy. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Random House, 2001.
470
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.
Milford, Nancy. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Random House, 2001.
508

Biography

Her unusual second name came from the fact that her mother's brother Charlie was brought back to life at St Vincent's Hospital , New York, after a bizarre shipping accident, and that ESVM 's mother received the news (both of the accident and recovery) almost as she went into labour.
Milford, Nancy. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Random House, 2001.
17
Though her regular nickname was Vincent, ESVM and her husband were constantly adding to their collection of nicknames for each other, often deliberately absurd.