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Edna St. Vincent Millay

Artist
Berenice Abbott, 17 Jul 1898 - 9 Dec 1991
Sitter
Edna St. Vincent Millay, 22 Feb 1892 - 19 Oct 1950
Date
c. 1929
Type
Photograph
Medium
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions
Image: 24.2 x 19 cm (9 1/2 x 7 1/2")
Mat: 45.7 x 35.6 cm (18 x 14")
Sheet: 25.2 × 20.3 cm (9 15/16 × 8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© Berenice Abbott / Commerce Graphics Ltd., Inc.
Object number
NPG.76.83
Exhibition Label
Literarily and temperamentally precocious, Edna St. Vincent Millay exemplified the spirit of the roaring twenties and the emancipation of American women. After a rebellious college career at Vassar, she moved to Greenwich Village, the center of avant-garde culture. Poetically, Millay was a Romantic, inspired by the ecstatic visions of Keats and Wordsworth; her first notable poem, “Renascence” (1912), spoke of a nature that “breathed my soul back into me.” Her famous quatrain “First Fig” (1920) celebrates sexual abandonment: “My candle burns at both ends; / It will not last the night; / But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— / It gives a lovely light.” Millay’s romanticism was at odds with literary modernism, and her reputation has declined. For a while, however, she perfectly represented the age that she did so much to define. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection