A native of Maine, Millay earned her first award for poetry in 1912 with her poem "Renaescence," a lyric poem which continues to be one of her most popular poems to this day. Millay is also well-known as a innovator of the sonnet form, and many of her sonnets express modern concerns of life and love within the five-century old poetic form.
Millay graduated from Vassar and then lived many years in Greenwich Village; her plays were performed often in New York City. She was as famous for her relationships, with both men and women, as for her writing, and her work often expresses a woman's struggle between disinterest and passion. In 1923, Millay married the lawyer Eugen Jan Boissevain, and the two bought a farm in Maine. However, their relationship was an open one, with both taking lovers throughout their lives. Millay was found dead at the bottom of a flight of steps in 1950, a year after her husband's death.
--Christie Finn and Miriam Lewin
Photo Credit: Carl Van Vechten, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division