August 26, 1908|
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
|Died||17 November 1995
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
|Occupation||Poet, novelist, biographer, professor|
|Notable work(s)||Miss MacIntosh, My Darling|
Marguerite Vivian Young (August 26, 1908 – November 17, 1995) was an American author of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and criticism. Her work evinced an interest in social issues and environmentalism. She is best known for her mammoth 1198-page novel, Miss MacIntosh, My Darling. In her later years, she was known as a "cherished Greenwich Village eccentric."
Her parents separated when she was very young, and she was raised by her maternal grandmother, who nurtured her love of literature. Young studied at Butler University in Indianapolis, receiving a BA in English and French. She then attended the University of Chicago, visiting Thornton Wilder's writing class and earning her MA in Epic and Elizabethan and Jacobean Literature.
While attending the University of Chicago, Young supported herself part-time by reading Shakespeare to Minna K. Weissenbach, a rich patron of Edna St. Vincent Millay, also known as the opium lady of Hyde Park. Weissenbach was to be the inspiration for the Opium Lady in Miss MacIntosh, My Darling, and her drug-based flights of fantasy were to make their way into the novel.
Her first book of poetry was published in 1937, while she was teaching high-school English in Indianapolis. In that same year, she visited the utopian commune of New Harmony, Indiana, where her mother and stepfather resided. She relocated to New Harmony and spent seven years there, beginning work on Angel in the Forest, a study of utopian concepts and communities.
That book appeared in 1945 and was well-received: It won the Guggenheim and Newberry Library awards. Over the next fifty years, while maintaining an address in New York's Greenwich Village, she traveled extensively and collaborated with other authors, including Anaïs Nin, writing articles, poetry, and book reviews for numerous magazines and newspapers. She also taught writing at a number of venues, including the New School for Social Research and Fordham University.
In 1947, she began working on a new project, the novel Miss MacIntosh, My Darling. Intending to take just two years, she did not finish until 1963. Young described it as "an exploration of the illusions, hallucinations, errors of judgment in individual lives, the central scene of the novel being an opium addict's paradise." The novel attracted mixed, rather polarized reviews at the time. Between the extreme length of the novel, and her lack of further publications, Young and the novel faded from attention, until rediscovered in the late 1980s by Dalkey Archive Press.
Young's next project was a biography of legendary Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. When that work was almost finished, she began what was meant as a side project, based on the relationship between Riley and Eugene V. Debs, but that digression was to occupy the rest of her life, turning into a large (2400 pages in manuscript) treatise on the life and times of Debs, Harp Song for a Radical. Unfinished at the time of her death, an abbreviated and heavily edited version of the work-in-progress was published in 1999 by Knopf.
List of works
- Prismatic Ground (1937)
- Moderate Fable (1944)
- Angel in the Forest: A Fairy Tale of Two Utopias (1945)
- Miss MacIntosh, My Darling (1965)
- Inviting the Muses: Stories, Essays, Reviews (1994)
- Harp Song for a Radical: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs (1999)
- Photograph of Young with Truman Capote: "LIFE visits Yaddo". Life 21 (3): 110. 1946-07-15.
- Wakeman, John (ed.) World Authors 1950-1970, H. W. Wilson, New York (1975).
- Ruas, Charles E. (Fall 1977). "Marguerite Young, The Art of Fiction No. 66". The Paris Review.
- Connie Eichenlaub's comprehensive Marguerite Young website
- Love Song for an Author
- Harp Song for a Radical
- NYT obituary reprinted in 52 McGs.: The Best Obituaries from Legendary New York Times Reporter Robert McG. Thomas ISBN 978-0-7432-1562-6
- Miriam Fuchs, ed. (1994). Marguerite Young, Our Darling. Dalkey Archive Press. p. xi.
- NYT obituary
- World Authors 1950-1970
- Famous Writers' School
- Ruas in Fuchs, p82
- interview in Fuchs