Blanche McCrary Boyd

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Blanche McCrary Boyd (born August 31, 1945)[1] is an American author whose novels are known for their eccentric characters. She is currently the Roman and Tatiana Weller Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Connecticut College.

Early life and education[edit]

Blanche McCrary Boyd was born in Charleston, South Carolina to Charles Fant McCrary and Mildred McDaniel.[2] She says that growing up in South Carolina was the source of her "redneck roots."[3]

Boyd started college at Duke University but after getting a C+ in her first English class and being basically asked to leave because she was "drunk all the time", she left.[4] She married a man who "wouldn't put up with her drinking", and soon enough, she transferred to Pomona College where she graduated in 1967.

She earned her M.A. in 1971 at Stanford University. At Stanford, she relapsed into her alcoholism, started taking drugs, and eventually, realized she was a lesbian.[4][5]

Career[edit]

Boyd wrote her first novel in hopes of combatting her lesbianism, in a sense, or at least to make something sad out of it. Nerves was published in 1973. Its publication did not cure her internalized homophobia, she realized, so she soon left her husband.[4]

Her second novel was written under similar pretenses. Boyd thought publication might help her with her addictions. Mourning the Death of Magic was published in 1977.[4] Boyd has since disavowed these two novels as "“talented but not good, because I was still playing my violin about the sad songs of life.”[3]

After Mourning the Death of Magic, Boyd had a brief stint as a rock and roll critic.[4]

The Redneck Way of Knowledge was published in 1982, her first work after getting clean. In the same year, she began teaching at Connecticut College.

In 1991, she published The Revolution of Little Girls to great acclaim. It won the 1992 Ferro-Grumley award for women.[6]

Terminal Velocity, the follow-up to The Revolution of Little Girls, was published in 1997, and it was called “A rollicking, kaleidoscopic trip through the drug-tinged lesbian-feminist counter-culture of the 1970s”.[7]

Boyd won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993–1994, a National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Fellowship in 1988,[8] a Creative Writing Fellowship from the South Carolina Arts Commission in 1982–1983[9] and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing from Stanford University in 1967–1968.[8] She was also won the Lambda Literary Award[8] that same year.[10] She was nominated for the Lambda Award for Lesbian Fiction again in 1997.[11]

In 2018, she published the third installment in the Revolution of Little Girls trilogy, Tomb of the Unknown Racist. In 2019 she was named as a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for this novel.[12]

Boyd now acts as the Roman and Tatiana Weller Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Connecticut College.

Personal life[edit]

After leaving her husband, Boyd moved to Vermont to protest the Vietnam War and live on a commune. She continued drinking and doing drugs, until eventually she got arrested. She left Vermont a year and a half later, and then moved to New York.

After her stint as a rock and roll critic, Boyd moved back to South Carolina, where she continued to struggle with drug and alcohol addition until 1980, when she says she had a moment of clarity when she watched her friend shoot herself.[4] Boyd got clean in 1981 and has not touched alcohol since.

Boyd met a woman in the late 90s that she "didn't screw things up with".[4] They got married in Connecticut in 2009[13] and now have twins.[4]

Works[edit]

Novels:

  • Nerves (Daughters Pub. Co., 1973)
  • Mourning the Death of Magic (Macmillan, 1977)[14]
  • The Revolution of Little Girls (Vintage, 1991)[15]
  • Terminal Velocity (Vintage, 1997)[16]
  • Tomb of the Unknown Racist: A novel (Counterpoint, 2018)[17]

Essays:

  • The Redneck Way of Knowledge: Down-home Tales (Vintage, 1978; 2nd ed., 1994)[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Blanche M Boyd" in the U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1
  2. ^ White, Amy L. (21 July 2016). "Boyd, Blanche McCrary". South Carolina Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  3. ^ a b "Blanche McCrary Boyd". Blanche McCrary Boyd. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Emily, Silber (2012-04-10). "From Addiction to Fiction: A look into the life of Professor Blanche Boyd – The College Voice". The College Voice. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  5. ^ Pollack, Sandra and Denise D. Knight. “Blanche McCrary Boyd (1945-).” Contemporary Lesbian Writers of the United States. Greenwood Press, 1993, https://archive.org/details/contemporarylesb0000unse/page/n5/mode/2up
  6. ^ "The Ferro–Grumley Awards". The Publishing Triangle. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  7. ^ Knopf, Alfred A. "Terminal Velocity". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  8. ^ a b c White, Amy L. (July 21, 2016). "Boyd, Blanche McCrary". South Carolina Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  9. ^ Moore, Madeline R. (1993). "Blanche McCrary Boyd (1945–)". In Pollack, Sandra; Knight, Denise D. (eds.). Contemporary Lesbian Writers of the United States: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Greenwood Press. p. 75. ISBN 9780313282157.
  10. ^ "The Publishing Triangle Awards". The Publishing Triangle: the association for lesbians and gay men in publishing. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  11. ^ "1997 Lambda Literary Award". FictionDB. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  12. ^ Koster, Rick (March 7, 2019). "Conn College English professor is finalist for prestigious award". Associated Press.
  13. ^ “Blanche Boyd” in the Connecticut, Marriage Index, 1959-2012.
  14. ^ Reviews of Mourning the Death of Magic: *Broyard, Anatole (August 30, 1977). "Books of the Times". The New York Times. *"Review". Kirkus Reviews. September 1977.
  15. ^ Reviews of The Revolution of Little Girls: *Wilson, Leigh Allison (May 23, 1991). "The Tarzan in Jane". The Washington Post. *See, Carolyn (June 24, 1991). "Dysfunctional Family's True and Funny Story". Los Angeles Times. *Loewenstein, Andrea Freud (December 1991). "Pieces of a Puzzle". The Women's Review of Books. 9 (3): 14. doi:10.2307/4021094. JSTOR 4021094. *"Review". Kirkus Reviews. May 1991. *"Review". Publishers Weekly.
  16. ^ Reviews of Terminal Velocity: *Barnet, Andrea (August 24, 1997). "Lesbians in Wonderland". The New York Times. *"Review". Kirkus Reviews. June 1997. *"Review". Publishers Weekly.
  17. ^ Reviews of Tomb of the Unknown Racist: *"Review". Kirkus Reviews. May 2018. *"Review". Publishers Weekly. *Sarai, Sarah (October 29, 2018). "Catching Catfish Barehanded". Gay & Lesbian Review. *Westhale, July (May 6, 2018). "Review". Lambda Literary Foundation.
  18. ^ Reviews of The Redneck Way of Knowledge: *Wheaton, Liz (January–February 1983). "Overrated Accuracy". Southern Exposure. 11: 68–69. *Houston, James D. (Spring 1983). Western American Literature. 18 (1): 72–73. JSTOR 43018792.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link) *"Review". Kirkus Reviews. May 1982.

Further reading[edit]