About May Sarton

May Sarton May Sarton is the pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton (May 3, 1912 - July 16, 1995), an American poet, novelist, and memoirist. Her parents were science historian George Sarton and his wife, the English artist Mabel Eleanor Elwes. In 1915, her family moved to Boston, Massachusetts. She went to school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and started theatre lessons in her late teens. In 1945 she met her partner for the next thirteen years, Judy Matlack, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They separated in 1956, when Sarton's father died and Sarton moved to Nelson, New Hampshire. Sarton later moved to York, Maine. She died of breast cancer on July 16, 1995. She is buried in Nelson, New Hampshire.

While Sarton is widely acclaimed for her fiction and poetry, her best and most enduring work may lie in her journals. In these honest, probing accounts of her solitary life, she deals with such issues as aging, isolation, solitude, friendship, sexuality, self-doubt, success and failure, envy, love of nature, gratitude for life's simple pleasures, and the daily challenge of leading of a creative life.

May Sarton's Memoirs and Journals (Selected)

Plant Dreaming Deep (1968)

Sensitive, luminous... Love is the genius of this small, but tender and often poignant, book by a woman of many insights. —New York Times Book Review

Journal of a Solitude (1973)

This journal is not only rich in the love of nature and the love of solitude. It is an honorable confession of the writer's faults, fears, sadness, and disappointments... On the surface, Journal of a Solitude is a quiet book, but if you will read it carefully you will be aware of violent needs and a valiant warrior who has battled every inch of the way to a share of serenity. This is a beautiful book, wise and warm within its solitude. —Cleveland Plain Dealer

The House by the Sea (1977)

In 1973, May Sarton moved to a house on the seacoast of Maine. It was a place that was alone in all but a few months in the summer, with the sea and the woods, and a wide sky ever present. She discovered that what she has to give does not depend on others. This is her journal of that time.

Recovering: A Journal, 1979-1980 (1980)

The author's friendships, her love of the natural world, and her growing audience of devoted readers are the themes of this unstintingly honest memoir.

At Seventy: A Journal (1984)

Sarton has fashioned her journals, "sonatas" as she calls them, into a distinctive literary form: relaxed yet shapely, a silky weave of reflection... with the reader made companion to her inmost thoughts.

After the Stroke (1988)

A lyrical, candid, sensitive spirit pervades this chronicle, which ends with Sarton well again, rejoicing in the present and putting the past behind her. —Publishers Weekly

Endgame: A Journal of the Seventy-Ninth Year (1992)

The story of the "last laps of a long-distance runner" enduring "a plateau of constant discomfort and "the knowledge that she will never get well," Sarton learns to accept dependency, write with a tape recorder, and adjust to frailty. Her solace is "root friends," flowers (her "small gods"), her cat, and her memories. She finds the courage to achieve again, "looking forward to the day." In this book, which is pervaded by the imagery of rain, she works through grief at the loss of her powers and records how women's friendships sustain her. Sarton has been lighthouse light for millions of women. —Library Journal

Encore: A Journal of the Eightieth Year (1993)

Those who may picture old age as static, retrospective, or restrictive will find a wholesome corrective in poet Sarton's journal of her 80th year. Sarton demonstrates that old age can be a vibrant and liberating experience in which one possesses "the freedom to be absurd, the freedom to forget things... the freedom to be eccentric." The dominant note sounded is fearless and triumphant, and Sarton's superb accomplishment in these journals may be in convincing us that old age is an experience not to fear, but to look forward to: we believe her when she affirms, "So here I am, a lucky old woman, rejoicing in her life on this great earth." —Publishers Weekly

At Eighty-Two: A Journal (1995)

Poet, novelist, survivor and writer of journals, Sarton is back with a chronicle of 1993-1994, the year she turned 82. Newcomers to this series will be hypnotized by the progression of days as Sarton struggles to cope with life in a large Maine house. The winter is unusually harsh, the roof leaks, the garage door jams, the stairs are tiring. And if all that were not enough, she has a minor stroke. Lightening these burdens for a frail, ill woman are the friends, the frequently delivered flowers, the mail and not least Pierrot, the crotchety but so comforting cat. —Publishers Weekly