May Sarton’s childhood was rich and intellectually stimulating with a father who was an international scholar and a mother who was an artist. Both parents were avid readers and exposed their daughter to an abundant cultural life. Although Sarton was supposed to go to Vassar, the theater became her passion. But the depression soon ended that and with a $100 a month allowance from her father she sold poems and later short stories to popular magazines. Her editor at Houghton Mifflin told her he felt she was a novelist rather than a short story writer. Thus began her career as a novelist. But poetry was at the core of Sarton’s creativity.
Sarton believes “… the first scene in a novel establishes the rhythm of the book. It should also suggest the theme, tell what the book is going to be about, introduce major characters and place them in their particular way of life.” She also believes that the first scene “…is a spell that pulls the reader into the book.”
Sarton wrote about the world she lived in and the characters she knew who were well-educated men and women. She also wrote about friendship between strong women and also women who stood up for their individuality.
For those writers who want to keep journals, she suggested you “… keep alive to everything, not just to what you are feeling, but to your pets, to flowers, to what you are reading. “ Write about what you see everyday and learn to see in a completely original way. “Keeping a journal is exciting because it gives a certain edge to the ordinary things in life.”
Although it wasn’t until Sarton was 65 years old when she could live from her writing, she received so many letters from people who told her that her books changed their lives. “I feel loved by so many people. Let’s face it, that’s better than money.”
May Sarton was 83 years old when she died on July 16, 1995.