renascence

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Edna St. Vincent Millay, a.k.a. Vincent, a.k.a. Nancy Boyd, February 22nd, 1892 - October 19th, 1950

Badassness: Edna, known to her family and friends as Vincent, was an American poet and playwright. She and her two sisters grew up in Maine with their mother, Cora, who divorced their father in 1904. Cora read extensively to her daughters and encouraged them to speak their minds. Vincent ran into trouble with her elementary school principal, who refused to call her Vincent, instead using any traditionally feminine names that started with V. Vincent had her first poetry published when she was 15, and 1912 her poem “Renascence” earned her renown in literary circles. She studied at Vassar, then moved to Greenwich Village after college and continued to write and publish, including prose under the pseudonym Nancy Boyd. Her poetry and plays were feminist and political, often exploring female sexuality. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her poetry collection, “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.” 

Bisexuality: In school, Vincent began dating women, including silent film actress Edith Wynne Matthison and sculptor Thelma Wood. The first man she considered her lover was author Floyd Dell, who felt it was his duty to ‘save’ her from homosexuality. He proposed, but she turned him down. Vincent married self-proclaimed feminist Eugen Jan Boissevain, and they had an open relationship, living happily together like “two bachelors.” Vincent was open about her sexuality and attraction to multiple genders; once she was discussing her headaches with a psychologist, who asked if she might have impulses toward her same sex (Freudian psychologists had weird ideas about sexual urges manifesting as illness). She responded, “Oh, you mean I’m homosexual! Of course I am, and heterosexual, too, but what’s that got to do with my headache?”


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