My grandmother is Evelyn Scott. She was born in Clarksville, Tennessee in 1893 and died in New York City in1964. She is now recognised as an important modernist novelist and wrote literally thousands of letters to the numerous literary and cultural figures she counted as her friends in the first half of the of the 20th century. These letters are a unique and fascinating chronicle of her life and her work. I am fortunate to have access to many of them and they deserve to be shared. My task is to edit them to tell her story in her own words.
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I left home for university as soon as I could, and gave little thought to my grandmother as I embraced the excitement and stimulus of my new life. I graduated in 1964 (almost exactly a year to the day after my grandmother died, although I did not know it at the time) and went to Turkey with the Peace Corps, where I taught English as a foreign language in Turkish state schools. After my two years in Turkey I travelled to Britain, where I earned an MA in experimental psychology at the University of Aberdeen, followed by two years as a researcher at the University of Sussex on the south coast of England. Marriage followed, and two little girls, while I continued working in the public and charity sectors. After 18 years, my husband and I decided to divorce, but not before David Callard’s biography of my grandmother (Pretty Good for a Woman) was published.
The next few years were devoted to surviving as a single parent. Then one day, about 10 years ago, it occurred to me that I had the freedom and the funds to explore my grandmother’s life, starting with a trip to her birthplace, Clarksville, Tennessee. One visit led to the next as I visited libraries which held collections of her letters, and I am now able to tell her story using extracts from her thousands of letters, with interjections from myself.
She had a disastrous effect on my father’s life, but she was an important literary figure and had an extraordinarily unconventional life. This is her story.