Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle

Overview
Kay Boyle was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 writer, educator, and political activist.

The granddaughter of a publisher, Kay Boyle was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in several cities but principally in Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio. Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located to north of the Ohio River at the Ohio-Kentucky border, near Indiana. The population within city limits is 296,943 according to the 2010 census, making it Ohio's...

. Her father, Howard Peterson Boyle, was a lawyer, but her greatest influence came from her mother, Katherine Evans, a literary and social activist who believed that the wealthy had an obligation to help the less well off.
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Kay Boyle was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 writer, educator, and political activist.

Early years


The granddaughter of a publisher, Kay Boyle was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in several cities but principally in Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio. Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located to north of the Ohio River at the Ohio-Kentucky border, near Indiana. The population within city limits is 296,943 according to the 2010 census, making it Ohio's...

. Her father, Howard Peterson Boyle, was a lawyer, but her greatest influence came from her mother, Katherine Evans, a literary and social activist who believed that the wealthy had an obligation to help the less well off. In later years Kay Boyle championed integration and civil rights. She also advocated banning nuclear weapons, and American withdrawal from the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

.

Boyle was educated at the exclusive Shipley School
The Shipley School
The Shipley School is a coeducational, independent, college-preparatory day school with approximately 835 students in pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade...

 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Bryn Mawr from Welsh for "big hill") is a census-designated place in Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia along Lancaster Avenue and the border with Delaware County...

, then studied architecture at the Ohio Mechanics Institute
University of Cincinnati College of Applied Science
The University of Cincinnati College of Applied Science is an applied science college at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio. Organized as the Ohio Mechanics Institute in 1828, it merged with UC in 1969 and was renamed the OMI College of Applied Science in 1978...

 in Cincinnati. Interested in the arts, she studied violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
The Cincinnati Conservatory of Music was a conservatory, part of a girls' finishing school, founded in 1867 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It merged with the College of Music of Cincinnati in 1955, forming the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, which is now part of the University of Cincinnati.The...

 before settling in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in 1922 where she found work as a writer/editor with a small magazine.

Marriages and family life


That same year, she met and married a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 exchange student, Richard Brault, and moved to France in 1923. This resulted in her staying in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 for the better part of the next twenty years. Separated from her husband, she formed a relationship with magazine editor Ernest Walsh, with whom she had a daughter (born after Walsh had died of consumption).

In 1928 she met Laurence Vail, who was then married to Peggy Guggenheim
Peggy Guggenheim
Marguerite "Peggy" Guggenheim was an American art collector. Born to a wealthy New York City family, she was the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim, who went down with the Titanic in 1912 and the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who would establish the Solomon R...

. Boyle and Vail lived together between 1929 until 1932 when, following their divorces, they married. With Vail, she had three more children.

During her years in France, Boyle was associated with several innovative literary magazines and made friends with many of the writers and artists living in Paris around Montparnasse
Montparnasse
Montparnasse is an area of Paris, France, on the left bank of the river Seine, centred at the crossroads of the Boulevard du Montparnasse and the Rue de Rennes, between the Rue de Rennes and boulevard Raspail...

. Among her friends were Harry
Harry Crosby
Harry Crosby was an American heir, a bon vivant, poet, publisher, and for some, epitomized the Lost Generation in American literature. He was the son of one of the richest banking families in New England, a member of the Boston Brahmin, and the nephew of Jane Norton Grew, the wife of financier J....

 and Caresse Crosby who owned the Black Sun Press
Black Sun Press
The Black Sun Press was an English language book publisher founded in 1927 as Éditions Narcisse by poet Harry Crosby and his wife Caresse Crosby , American expatriates living in Paris...

 and published her first work of fiction, a collection title Short Stories. They became such good friends that in 1928 Harry Crosby cashed in some stock dividends to help Boyle pay for an abortion. Other friends included Eugene
Eugene Jolas
John George Eugene Jolas was a writer, translator and literary critic.-Biography:Eugene Jolas was born in Union City, New Jersey, but grew up in Forbach in Elsass-Lothringen , to which his family returned when he was two years old. He spent periods of his adult life living in both the U.S...

 and Maria Jolas
Maria Jolas
Maria Jolas , born Maria McDonald, was one of the founding members of transition in Paris with her husband Eugene Jolas....

. Kay Boyle also wrote for transition
Transition (literary journal)
transition was an experimental literary journal that featured surrealist, expressionist, and Dada art and artists. It was founded in 1927 by poet Eugene Jolas and his wife Maria McDonald and published in Paris...

, one of the preeminent literary publications of the day. A poet as well as a novelist, her early writings often reflected her lifelong search for true love as well as her interest in the power relationships between men and women. Kay Boyle's short stories won two O. Henry Awards.

In 1936, she wrote a novel titled Death of a Man, an attack on the growing threat of Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

, but at that time, no one in America was listening. In 1943, following her divorce from Laurence Vail, she married Baron Joseph von Franckenstein with whom she had two children. After having lived in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, and in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Boyle returned to the United States.

McCarthyism, later life


In the States, Boyle and her husband were victims of early 1950s McCarthyism
McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

. Her husband was dismissed by Roy Cohn
Roy Cohn
Roy Marcus Cohn was an American attorney who became famous during Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations into Communist activity in the United States during the Second Red Scare. Cohn gained special prominence during the Army–McCarthy hearings. He was also an important member of the U.S...

 from his post in the Public Affairs Division of the U.S. State Department, and Boyle lost her position as foreign correspondent for The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

, a post she had held for six years. She was blacklist
Blacklist
A blacklist is a list or register of entities who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize a person from a certain social circle...

ed by most of the major magazines. During this period, her life and writing became increasingly political.

In the early 1960s, Boyle and her husband lived in Rowayton, Connecticut
Rowayton, Connecticut
Rowayton is a section of Norwalk, Connecticut. Located on the Long Island Sound just 45 miles from New York City, Rowayton is a coastal New England village...

, where he taught at a private girls' school. He was then rehired by the State Department and posted to Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, but died shortly thereafter in 1963.

Boyle was a writer in residence at the New York City Writer's Conference at Wagner College
Wagner College
Wagner College is a private, co-educational, national liberal arts college with an enrollment of approximately 2,400 total students located atop Grymes Hill in New York City's borough of Staten Island...

 in 1962. In 1963, she accepted a creative writing position on the faculty of San Francisco State College
San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University is a public university located in San Francisco, California. As part of the 23-campus California State University system, the university offers over 100 areas of study from nine academic colleges...

 where she remained until 1979. During this period she became heavily involved in political activism. She traveled to Cambodia in 1966 as part of the "Americans Want to Know" fact-seeking mission. She participated in numerous protests, and in 1967 was arrested twice and imprisoned. In 1968, she signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. In her later years, she became an active supporter of Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 and worked for the NAACP. After retiring from San Francisco State College, Boyle held several writer-in-residence positions for brief periods of time.

Boyle died at a California seniors home in Mill Valley, California
Mill Valley, California
Mill Valley is a city in Marin County, California, United States located about north of San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge. The population was 13,903 at the 2010 census.Mill Valley is located on the western and northern shores of Richardson Bay...

, in 1992. In her lifetime Kay Boyle published more than 40 books, including 14 novels, eight volumes of poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, 11 collections of short fiction, three children's books, and French to English translations and essays. Most of her papers and manuscripts are in the Morris Library at Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University is a state university system based in Carbondale, Illinois, in the Southern Illinois region of the state, with multiple campuses...

 in Carbondale, Illinois
Carbondale, Illinois
Carbondale is a city in Jackson County, in the state of Illinois, within the Southern Illinois region. It is located at the junction of Illinois Route 13 and U.S. Route 51, southeast of St. Louis, Missouri, on the northern edge of the Shawnee National Forest...

. Morris Library has the Ruby Cohn
Ruby Cohn
Ruby Cohn was a theater scholar and a leading authority on playwright Samuel Beckett...

 Collection of Kay Boyle Letters and the Alice L. Kahler
Erich Kahler
Erich von Kahler was a renowned mid-twentieth-century European-American literary scholar and essayist best known for scholarly works like The Tower and the Abyss: An Inquiry into the Transformation of Man ....

 Collection of Kay Boyle Letters. A comprehensive assessment of Boyle's life and work was published in 1986 titled Kay Boyle, Artist and Activist by Sandra Whipple Spanier. In 1994 Joan Mellen published a voluminous biography of Kay Boyle, Kay Boyle. Author of herself.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in addition to her two O. Henry Awards, she received two Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Each year, the foundation makes...

s and was given a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. It was created by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. Its current...

.

Novels

  • Process (written in 1925, unpublished until 2001 )
  • Plagued by the Nightingale (1931)
  • Year Before Last (1932)
  • Gentlemen, I Address You Privately (1933)
  • My Next Bride (1934)
  • Death of a Man (1936)
  • Monday Night (1938)
  • The Crazy Hunter: Three Short Novels (The Crazy Hunter, The Bridegroom's Body, and Big Fiddle) (1940)
  • Primer for Combat (1942)
  • Avalanche (1944)
  • A Frenchman Must Die (1946)
  • 1939 (1948)
  • His Human Majesty (1949),
  • The Seagull on the Step (1955)
  • Three Short Novels (The Crazy Hunter,The Bridegroom's Body, Decision) (1958)
  • Generation Without Farewell (1960)
  • The Underground Woman (1975)
  • Winter Night (1993)

Story collections

  • Short Stories (1929)
  • Wedding Day and Other Stories (1930)
  • The First Lover and Other Stories (1933)
  • The White Horses of Vienna (1935) winner of the O. Henry Award
  • The Astronomer's Wife (1936)
  • Defeat (1941), winner of the O. Henry Award
  • Thirty Stories (1946)
  • The Smoking Mountain: Stories of Postwar Germany (1951)
  • Nothing Ever Breaks Except the Heart (1966)
  • Fifty Stories (1980)
  • Life Being the Best and Other Stories (1988)

Juvenile

  • The Youngest Camel (1939), revised edition published as The Youngest Camel: Reconsidered and Rewritten (1959)
  • Pinky, the Cat Who Liked to Sleep (1966)
  • Pinky in Persia (1968)

Poetry collections

  • A Statement (1932)
  • A Glad Day (1938)
  • American Citizen: Naturalized in Leadville (1944)
  • Collected Poems (1962)
  • The Lost Dogs of Phnom Pehn (1968)
  • Testament for My Students and Other Poems (1970)
  • A Poem for February First (1975)
  • This Is Not a Letter and Other Poems (1985)
  • Collected Poems of Kay Boyle (Copper Canyon Press
    Copper Canyon Press
    Copper Canyon Press is an independent, non-profit small press, specializing in the publication of poetry and located in the picturesque town of Port Townsend, Washington. Since 1972, the Press has published poetry exclusively and has established an international reputation for its commitment to...

    , 1991)

Non-fiction

  • Relations & Complications. Being the Recollections of H.H. The Dayang Muda of Sarawak. (1929), Forew. by T.P. O'Connor. (Ghost-written)
  • Breaking the Silence: Why a Mother Tells Her Son about the Nazi Era (1962)
  • "The Last Rim of The World," in "Why Work Series" editor Gordon Lish
    Gordon Lish
    Gordon Jay Lish is an American writer. As a literary editor, he championed many American authors, particularly Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, and Richard Ford.-Early life and family:...

     (1966)
  • Being Geniuses Together, 1920-1930 (1968) (with Robert McAlmon
    Robert McAlmon
    Robert Menzies McAlmon was an American author, poet and publisher.-Life:McAlmon was born in Clifton, Kansas, the youngest of ten children of an itinerant Presbyterian minister....

    )
  • "Winter Night" and a conversation with the author in "New sounds in American fiction" editor Gordon Lish
    Gordon Lish
    Gordon Jay Lish is an American writer. As a literary editor, he championed many American authors, particularly Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, and Richard Ford.-Early life and family:...

     (1969)
  • The Long Walk at San Francisco State and Other Essays (1970)
  • Four Visions of America (1977) (with others)
  • Words That Must Somehow Be Said, Edited by Elizabeth Bell (1985)

External links