Anya Seton: A Writing Life

Anya Seton: A Writing Life

by Lucinda H. MacKethan

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Anya Seton was the bestselling author of 10 historical novels, including the masterpieces Katherine and The Winthrop Woman, which are still widely beloved over 60 years after their original publication. Yet there has never before been a book-length biography of this great American writer. Ann Seton was born in 1904 the daughter of two celebrity writers: Ernest Thompson Seton, a renowned naturalist and illustrator, and Grace Gallatin Seton, a women's suffrage leader who received medals for her service in France during World War I. The pair's literary output gave them enduring fame. As a teenager, Ann explicitly rejected her parents' careers because, she said, they showed her the drudgery of a writer's life. Still, she was always confident that she had inherited her parents' talent. At age 36 and self-renamed Anya, she placed her first novel with a major publisher. Anya the author was protective of her private life yet also mused, “I suppose I write myself over and over again in my heroines.” She reinvented herself within carefully researched historical settings and biographical materials that provided both escape and wish-fulfillment. In journal entries, letters, and “self-analyses,” she provides an intimate study of what it meant to her to be a writer. She describes her creative process along with the difficulties of balancing writing with th duties of homemaking and raising three children, and she expresses her gratitude or more often frustration toward editors and reviewers. A compelling portrait emerges of a deeply dedicated writer whose life was full of inner turmoil, most of it self-inflicted. She wrote probably her own best epitaph while working on her masterpiece, Katherine, published in 1954: “My forte is story, and a peculiarly meticulous (fearful, yes) desire to weave historical fact into story. Make history come alive and as exciting as the past is to me.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781641600897
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/04/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Lucinda H. MacKethan is Alumni Distinguished Professor of English Emerita at North Carolina State University and the author or editor of six books, including Daughters of Time: Creating Women's Voice in Southern Story and the coedited Companion to Southern Literature.

Table of Contents

Author's Note v

Preface: I Was Born xi

1 The Starving Artist, the Heiress, and the Princess 1

2 Houses Divided 22

3 Dearest Ambitions 36

4 From Ann to Anya 56

5 Passionate Daughter 70

6 Money Maker 86

7 Hearth and Husband 104

8 Where to Go from Here? 117

9 Midway 130

10 Herstories 150

11 Dichotomies 164

12 The Glass Crutch 181

13 There Is No Avalon 196

14 Into Green Darkness 214

15 The Source and She Were One 231

Afterword: Other Anyas 245

Acknowledgments 250

Notes 252

Selected Bibliography 276

Index 280

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