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Edna St. Vincent Millay collection

Identifier: 0232

Collection Scope and Content

The collection consists of photocopies of the poet's early work, copies of biographic sketches, including one by Ramona Barth, and correspondence with her mother and sisters. Also included are a few photographs of a school-aged Millay, an example of her signature, and two volumes of Tamarack, a journal edited by her sister, Norma Millay, in the 1980s. Samples of commemorative ephemera in celebration of her Maine birthright and longtime ownership and residency of Ragged Island in Maine's Casco Bay are also present in addition to a silk nightgown owned by Millay.


  • Creation: 1900-1992



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Curator of the Maine Women Writers Collection.

Biographical/Historical Note

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland, Maine, on February 22, 1892, the daughter of Henry T. and Cora (Buzzelle) Millay. The first publication of her writing, in 1906 at age 14, was a piece in St. Nicholas magazine, which earned her a Gold Badge. Edna graduated from Camden Hills High School in 1909. “Renascence,” a verse, was published in Lyric Year in 1912. She graduated from Vassar College in 1917, and having written many lyric pieces during her time there, upon graduation she published her first poetry collection, Renascence and Other Poems. She then moved to Greenwich Village, sharing an apartment with her sisters and acting with the Provincetown Players on MacDougal Street. In 1919, Millay’s anti-war play Aria da Capo was published, followed in 1920 by A Few Figs from Thistles, which was controversial due to its overtly sexual and feminist themes. Second April was published in 1921, as well as the plays Two Slatterns and a King and The Lamp and the Bell, a poem written for Vassar College about love between women. Millay was known for having many love affairs with both men and women. The following year Millay won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver,” the third woman to ever do so. On July 18, 1923, she married Eugen J. Boissevain, and after traveling around the world together in 1925, they settled at Steepletop in Austerlitz, New York. They later bought Ragged Island in Maine as a summer retreat. In 1927, Millay joined the demonstrations against the conviction and death sentencing of Ferdinando Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in that high-profile trial of two anarchist Italian immigrants accused of murder and armed robbery in Massachusetts. After pleading with the governor in person, she wrote in an appeal to him: "I cry to you with a million voices: answer our doubt...There is need in Massachusetts of a great man tonight." She wrote The King's Henchman, a lyric opera, in 1927 and Fatal Interview and Wine from These Grapes along with many other poems in the 1930s. Due to reverses in her husband’s foreign import business, the Millays experienced serious financial losses during World War II. As a longtime pacifist and activist, Edna St. Vincent Millay used her poetry to protest the Allied actions during the war, for which she received criticism by her readers. Millay suffered a nervous breakdown in 1944, as well as a recurrence after the loss her husband in 1949. Millay died on October 19, 1950, the result of a fall at Steepletop. She was 58.


1 linear foot (42 folders)

Language of Materials


Guide to the Edna St. Vincent Millay collection, 1900-1992
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Maine Women Writers Collection Repository

Abplanalp Library
University of New England
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland Maine 04103 United States