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About the Author: Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle was a writer of the Lost Generation.

Early years
The granddaughter of a publisher, Kay Boyle was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in several cities but principally in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father, Howard Peterson Boyle, was a lawyer, but her greatest influence came from her mother, Katherine Evans, a literary and social activist who believed that the wealthy had an obligation to help the less well off. In later years Kay Boyle championed integration and civil rights. She also advocated banning nuclear weapons, and American withdrawal from the Vietnam War.

Boyle was educated at the exclusive Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, then studied architecture at the Ohio Mechanics Institute in Cincinnati. Interested in the arts, she studied violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music before settling in New York City in 1922 where she found work as a writer/editor with a small magazine.

Marriages and family life

That same year, she met and married a French exchange student, Richard Brault, and they moved to France in 1923. This resulted in her staying in Europe for the better part of the next twenty years. Separated from her husband, she formed a relationship with magazine editor Ernest Walsh, with whom she had a daughter (born after Walsh had died of tuberculosis).

In 1928 she met Laurence Vail, who was then married to Peggy Guggenheim. Boyle and Vail lived together between 1929 until 1932 when, following their divorces, they married. With Vail, she had three more children.

During her years in France, Boyle was associated with several innovative literary magazines and made friends with many of the writers and artists living in Paris around Montparnasse. Among her friends were Harry and Caresse Crosby who owned the Black Sun Press and published her first work of fiction, a collection titled Short Stories. They became such good friends that in 1928 Harry Crosby cashed in some stock dividends to help Boyle pay for an abortion. Other friends included Eugene and Maria Jolas. Kay Boyle also wrote for transition, one of the preeminent literary publications of the day. A poet as well as a novelist, her early writings often reflected her lifelong search for true love as well as her interest in the power relationships between men and women. Kay Boyle's short stories won two O. Henry Awards.

In 1936, she wrote a novel titled Death of a Man, an attack on the growing threat of Nazism, but at that time, no one in America was listening. In 1943, following her divorce from Laurence Vail, she married Baron Joseph von Franckenstein with whom she had two children. After having lived in France, Austria, England, and in Germany after World War II, Boyle returned to the United States.

McCarthyism, later life
In the States, Boyle and her husband were victims of early 1950s McCarthyism. Her husband was dismissed by Roy Cohn from his post in the Public Affairs Division of the U.S. State Department, and Boyle lost her position as foreign correspondent for The New Yorker, a post she had held for six years. She was blacklisted by most of the major magazines. During this period, her life and writing became increasingly political.

In the early 1960s, Boyle and her husband lived in Rowayton, Connecticut, where he taught at a private girls' school. He was then rehired by the State Department and posted to Iran, but died shortly thereafter in 1963.

Boyle was a writer in residence at the New York City Writer's Conference at Wagner College in 1962. In 1963, she accepted a creative writing position on the faculty of San Francisco State College, where she remained until 1979. During this period she became heavily involved in political activism. She traveled to Cambodia in 1966 as part of the "Americans Want to Know" fact-seeking mission. She participated in numerous protests, and in 1967 was arrested twice and imprisoned. In 1968, she signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge,


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Find the best price forDeath of a Man

A Novel by

Goodreads rating: 3.52

Paperback, Published in May 1989 by New Directions Publishing Corporation

ISBN10: 0811210898 | ISBN13: 9780811210898

Page count: 338

From Publishers Weekly Boyle's memorable novel, first published in 1936 and long out of print, and set in the Austrian town of Feldbruck from February to July of 1934, is at once a love story and a chilling political drama. Romance blooms between Prochaska, the resident doctor at the town hospital's ward for infectious diseases, and Pendennis, a young, married American tourist. The attraction between the two is immediate and potent, but as their involvement deepens, Pendennis becomes aware of Prochaska's work for the Nazi party, which many Feldbruck citizens cling to in the hope that it will rescue Austria from economic depression. The lovers' clash is as emphatic as their affinity; as spring wears on, Pendennis's antipathy grows, until she declares to Prochaska that "you take your orders, you swallow it all down along with your pride and your sense or whathaveyou! One day they're going to put a pretty little uniform on you . . . and say, 'Now you run along to war, dear,' and won't that be a lot of fun?" The collapse of the affair seems as inevitable as the tragic, impending war. The novel is reprinted here with an introduction in which Burton Hatlen of the University of Maine elucidates why Boyle's sympathetic view of Prochaska does not signify support of fascism, and with a brief, illuminating afterword by Boyle.

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