Anya Seton: A Writing Life

Anya Seton: A Writing Life

by Lucinda H. MacKethan
Anya Seton: A Writing Life

Anya Seton: A Writing Life

by Lucinda H. MacKethan


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Anya Seton was the bestselling author of ten historical novels, including the masterpieces Katherine and The Winthrop Woman, which are still widely beloved over sixty years after their original publication. Yet there has never before been a book-length biography of this great American writer. Author Lucinda MacKethan, with the support of Seton’s daughters and unprecedented access to the novelist’s decades’ worth of journals detailing her writing throughout her career, has crafted an intimate look at the writer in her own words.

Ann Seton was born in 1904 the daughter of two celebrity writers: Ernest Thompson  Seton, a renowned naturalist and illustrator, and Grace Gallatin Seton, a women’s suffrage leader who received medals for her volunteer work in France during World War I. The pair’s literary output gave them enduring fame, but as a teenager Ann explicitly rejected her parents’ careers—because, she said, they showed her the drudgery of a writer’s life. Still, she was always confident that she had inherited her parents’ talent. At age thirty-six and self-renamed Anya, she placed her first novel with a major publisher. Anya the author was protective of her private life yet also mused, “I suppose I write myself over and over again in the heroines” of her books. She reinvented herself within carefully researched historical settings and biographical frameworks that provided both escape and wish fulfillment. 

Through Seton’s own journal entries, letters, and self-analyses, MacKethan provides an intimate study of what it meant to her to be a writer. She details Seton’s creative process, as well as the difficulties she faced balancing writing with the duties of homemaking and raising three children, and the gratitude or more often frustration she felt toward editors and reviewers. A compelling portrait emerges of a deeply dedicated writer whose life was full of inner turmoil, most of it self-inflicted. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781641600866
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/04/2020
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,107,306
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Lucinda H. MacKethan is alumni distinguished professor of English emerita at North Carolina State University,  where she taught courses primarily in southern and African American literature. She is the author or editor of six books, including Daughters of Time: Creating Woman’s Voice in Southern Story and the coedited Companion to Southern Literature. MacKethan was a fellow at the National Humanities Center, where her curricula and lectures appear in the center’s online program for teacher enrichment. She lectures nationally on the culture of the Old South.

Table of Contents

Author's Note v

Preface: I Was Born xi

1 The Starving Artist, the Heiress, and the Princess 1

2 Houses Divided 22

3 Dearest Ambitions 36

4 From Ann to Anya 56

5 Passionate Daughter 70

6 Money Maker 86

7 Hearth and Husband 104

8 Where to Go from Here? 117

9 Midway 130

10 Herstories 150

11 Dichotomies 164

12 The Glass Crutch 181

13 There Is No Avalon 196

14 Into Green Darkness 214

15 The Source and She Were One 231

Afterword: Other Anyas 245

Acknowledgments 250

Notes 252

Selected Bibliography 276

Index 280

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