Edna St Vincent Millay purchased Steepletop, her home in Austerlitz, New York in 1925 and lived there until her death in 1950. The house exists as if Millay had just stepped out for a walk. Books are piled beneath and on top of the two pianos in her living room. Newspapers sit on the table in her study. Monogrammed towels sit primly on their towel racks and a suitcase sits next to her chaise lounge in her bedroom awaiting the next trip.
It is the details of her home that describe Millay. Each book, photograph, and knickknack tells a story. All are clues to what inspired Millay, what interested her and how she led her life. Her home, the beauty of the land around her and the people she knew, were intrinsically woven into her poetry.
Millay is important not only because she was a prolific poet and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, but also because she was the “herald of the New Woman”, as Nancy Milford states in her prologue to Savage Beauty. It is Millay’s life as well as her poetry that intrigues us and delights us and gives us pause for thought.
© 2024 Julie W. McCarthy