The Dorothy West Martha’s Vineyard

Stories, Essays and Reminiscences by Dorothy West Writing in the Vineyard Gazette


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About the Book

This book is a compilation of selected stories, essays, and reminiscences that Dorothy West wrote for the Vineyard Gazette from the 1960s to the early 1990s. In these entries, West retraces life on the island as she experienced it from 1908, when she was an infant, to 1993 when she wrote her final column. Born in 1907 in Boston, Dorothy West went on to develop into a prize-winning author by the time she was in her teens. The 1926 award she received in New York, and the lure of the city itself, inspired West to leave Boston and join what was then a fledgling literary movement that would evolve into the Harlem Renaissance. She circulated among what in essence was the black literary “royalty” of her times, of which she was a signal member.
By the mid–1940s West had returned to Massachusetts, to Martha’s Vineyard. She began to write a column for the local paper about the comings and goings of island residents and visitors. It was her column in the Gazette that drew the attention of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who, on one of her island visits, met the author and expressed her admiration. Onassis, at the time, just happened to be an editor at Doubleday. When Onassis learned of a decades-old manuscript that had been laid aside, she urged West to pick up the work again. West later dedicated this book “To the memory of my editor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Though there was never such a mismatched pair in appearance, we were perfect partners.”
The authors selected from the Gazette columns that West wrote over the three decades, those on people, events, and nature seemed to have the greatest historic, artistic, or philosophical import.

About the Author(s)

James Robert Saunders is a professor of English at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
A native of Charlottesville, Renae Nadine Shackelford is a lecturer in the Department of English at Purdue University.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by James Robert Saunders and Renae Nadine Shackelford
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 168
Bibliographic Info: photos, index
Copyright Date: 2001
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0892-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5075-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
List of Illustrations      xi
Introduction      1

1. The Late 1960s and Early 1970s      13
2. Representing the Whole: The Middle to Later 1970s      31
3. Winding Down: The 1980s      63
4. Final Years: The Early 1990s      129

Conclusion      149
Index      151

Book Reviews & Awards

“a cleverly sharp collection…I couldn’t put [this book] down!”—Public Library Quarterly; “a sizable, representative sampling of numerous columns that West wrote…thorough…praise must be extended to the editors for the expert compilation of the columns…this text is long over due and is greatly welcomed”—Abafazi; “an essential contribution”—Cercles.