Blood Too Bright: Floyd Dell Remembers Edna St. Vincent Millay

by Jerri Dell

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten*

One hundred years ago, Bohemian author and editor of the radical Masses magazine, Floyd Dell, began a passionate affair with a newcomer to Greenwich Village – the yet to be discovered “girl poet,” Edna St. Vincent Millay. In the years that followed, both Dell and Millay became symbols of early twentieth century feminism, rebellion, and literary freedom.

A century later, while poring over her grandfather Floyd’s papers at Chicago’s Newberry Library, Jerri Dell discovered hundreds of handwritten letters and an unpublished memoir about his love affair with Millay. Finding him as outlandish, entertaining, and insightful as he was when she knew him fifty years before, she chose to bring him and his poet lover back to life within the pages of this book.

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night*

Admirers of Edna Millay, as well as Bohemian Village enthusiasts and readers interested in writers who famously influenced social norms, are sure to enjoy this eye-witness account of a fascinating woman and exceptional poet.

*Excerpts from Sonnet XLIII and First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay



“Artfully brought to vivid life are the lives and loves of two extravagantly romantic rebels who found themselves and each other at the heart of America’s truest bohemia, the Greenwich Village of the early 20th century.” -Douglas Clayton Floyd Dell: The Life and Times of an American Rebel

“Floyd Dell’s granddaughter has unearthed a trove of his private letters. The result, collected here, is the first in-depth entrée into Floyd Dell’s brilliant mind as it tries to grasp that of Edna Millay, his enigmatic and still-elusive lover.”
-Barbara Hurd Listening to the Savage: River Notes and Half-Heard Melodies

“In memoir, letters and prose, Millay and her Village world come alive. Floyd Dell deepens our understanding of her dedication to poetry, commitment to the radical causes of feminism and pacifism, and love affairs with women and men.” -Dana Greene Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life

“[Dell] . . . illuminates not only his astute powers of observation . . . but also Edna St. Vincent Millay’s self-defined conflict between romantic love vs. art, heart vs. mind, that she tackled in both her poetry and prose.” -Holly Peppe, Literary Executor, Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Jerri Dell’s compelling preface, interlaced with memories of her grandfather, the fiery radical and astute man of letters, entices readers into this absorbing exploration of love and literature.” -Krystyna Poray Goddu A Girl Called Vincent: The Life of Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay

” . . . provides fresh food for thought about the radical feminists of Greenwich Village during the early decades of the 20th century.” -Lois Rudnick, Mabel Dodge Luhan: New Woman, New Worlds

“Floyd Dell’s recollections of events are moments, sensations really, in which we feel as he might have done when walking down the crooked streets of Greenwich Village, skinny dipping with beautiful young women on a summer’s eve, making a final break with Edna Millay as candles flicker and burn out.” -Mary Jane Treacy, Simmons College, emerita

“Ms. Dell deserves our deepest thanks for restoring to us the powerful and eloquent voice of one of the central figures of Greenwich Village on the cusp of becoming the Bohemian center it is known for today, and for giving us a fresh perspective on the “girl poet” he had loved.” Bookreporter


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Posted on

April 18, 2023

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