Kay Boyle published more than forty books during her life including fifteen novels, and eight volumes of poetry. Yet her achievements can be even better appreciated through her letters to the literary and cultural titans of her time.
Sandra Spanier, who edited Kay Boyle: A Twentieth-Century Life in Letters, recently appeared at the Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris to discuss both Boyle’s correspondence and also that of her modernist colleague Ernest Hemingway.
“She had an extremely colorful personal life. . . three husbands, six children,” Spanier said of Boyle to the Shakespeare and Company audience. “Every decade of her life could be a book.”
Kay Boyle was published alongside literary stars such as Hemingway, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound in the Paris literary magazines of the 20s. She fled the rise of fascism in Europe. She won several O. Henry Awards. She was blacklisted in the McCarthy era.
Given the task of editing Boyle’s mammoth output of 30,000 letters, Spanier also somehow found time to serve as General Editor of the Hemingway Letters Project as well.
Take a look at Spanier’s Paris talk about the letters of both Hemingway and Kay Boyle via the podcast below.