Tag Archives: A World of Light

Author of the Week, May Sarton, May 17


May Sarton

(Novelist, Memoirist, Poet)

“I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room.”

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”

“I suppose I have written novels to find out what I thought about something and poems to find out what I felt about something.”

“I feel happy to be keeping a journal again. I’ve missed it, missed naming things as they appear, missed the half hour when I push all duties aside and savour the experience of being alive in this beautiful place.”


May Sarton (1912—1995)  is the pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton.  Her first volume of poetry, Encounters in April, was published in 1937 and her first novel, The Single Hound, in 1938.

Her memoir, best-selling Journal of a Solitude, 1973, was an account of her experiences as a female artist, and is still read today, praised as “rich in the love of nature and the love of solitude … a beautiful book, wise and warm within its solitude,” by Eugenia Thornton. Sarton became acquainted with many literary figures, including Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen. She taught at both Harvard and Wellesley; her books are a part of  college courses throughout the country. 

May Sarton died of breast cancer  in 1995, at the age of 83. She said of her work: “It is my hope that all the novels, the poems, and the autobiographical books may come to be seen as a whole, the communication of a vision of life.” She has an extensive and impressive legacy’ with over 50 published works.

[Note: I have a long-lasting love of May Sarton’s journals and fiction. I probably own 30+ of her 50 works, and often reread her journals, especially House by the Sea, my favorite. She falls deeply in love with nature, flowers, gardens, land, sea and sky, and her writing. She writes her best in this book, just luminous! A book to keep by your bed and savor before turning out the light, taking May’s wise thinking into your subconscious. If you read only one book by May, House by the Sea will capture your heart, imagination, and soul. Sarton is an inspiration.]


Interview (30-minute film) with May Sarton hosted by Karen Saum. Sarton speaks about poetry and her writing. This vimeo is followed by another of Sarton’s events “May Sarton: Writing in the Upward Years” (1988).

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/15202922″>May Sarton She knew a Phoenix</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user3645923″>Belfast Community Media</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Sarton’s Novels:


May Sarton’s Amazon page:














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