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Letter Box


A letter from an alumnus about Nancy Milford

October 29, 2001

Having just finished Nancy Milford's "Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay," I would like to commend Princeton for getting her to be part of the American Studies Program this fall (according to the dust jacket). It is an enthralling work, especially moving when it describes Millay's early family upbringing and the challenges she overcame to develop such a magnificent talent. Milford illuminates and inspires when she shows how this free spirit resisted so many attempts to corral her into someone else's showplace, despite the financial and other rewards offered by compliance.

There is just one minor correction which I hope might be made in future editions. My mother, Hilda van Stockum Marlin, contributes, for over a page, her experiences as the niece of Eugen Boissevain, Millay's devoted husband. Unfortunately, her name is incorrectly spelled "von" instead of "van," thus wrongly signaling a Germanic rather than Dutch or Flemish origin.

The book describes many occasions in which Millay generously went out of her way to help other authors. One can add to these her writing of the Forword to my mother's first book, "A Day on Skates" (Harper's, 1934), which went on to become the Newbury Medal runner-up in 1935. This book, and numerous other children's books by my mother, have recently been reissued by Bethlehem Books.

Randal Marlin '59
Ottawa, Canada

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