Born in Belgium, May Sarton was the daughter of the well-known scientist, George Sarton, and an English artist, Mabel Elwes Sarton. At the age of four, she moved with her parents to Cambridge, Massachusetts where her father joined the faculty of Harvard University. There she attended Shady Hill School, with some time at Institute Belge de Culture Francaise in Brussels, and graduated from Cambridge High and Latin in 1929. She turned down her acceptance to Vassar College to join the Civic Repertory Theater, headed by Eva LaGallienne. Several years later, after her own theater failed due to the ongoing Depression, she decided to devote her life to writing, rather than acting. By the age of seventeen, she had already published her first poems. She went on to produce fifty-three more volumes including poetry, novels, journals, essays, and children’s books before she died in 1995, at York, Maine.
Although she lived in New England for most of her life she always felt a close attachment to her European and British roots and she returned for frequent and prolonged visits in England, Belgium and France. She wrote about many of those visits and about her feelings for Europe in her memoirs and journals. Three of her novels are set in Europe, one in Ireland. She is perhaps best known for the writing that grew out of her life in a small village, Nelson, New Hampshire, and then by the sea, in York, Maine.
Links to more information about May Sarton:
- Here is a fine article called Permanence and May Sarton, by Deborah Straw: http://www.literarytraveler.com/special/Sarton.htm
- There is a photograph and short biography of May Sarton on the website of The Academy of American Poets: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/653
- Another short biography, with a photo, is available on: http://www.biography.com/people/may-sarton-9472207
- An article in the Unitarian Universalist Society’s World magazine celebrates Sarton and her 100th birth-anniversary: http://www.uuworld.org/ideas/index.shtml
- Lenora P. Blouin has published two volumes of her Bibliography on May Sarton’s work. Link here to find more about it or to order it from Amazon.com. May Sarton: A Bibliography, by Leonora P. Blouin, ©2000, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0810836874. Ms. Blouin has written several insightful pieces about her friend, May Sarton. We recommend the following:
- When a mutual friend asked May Sarton what her religion was she responded, “If anything I am a Unitarian”. A biographical article about her, also by Lenora P. Blouin is on the Unitarian Universalist Society website:http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/maysarton.html
- To read a very good detailed biographical sketch of the poet, we suggest you go to May Sarton: A Poet’s Life” by Lenora P. Blouin in the Celebration of Women Writers website at: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/sarton/blouin-biography.html