A memoir of an extraordinary life—poet, international human rights activist, founding member of Amnesty International USA, journalist, hostess, famous beauty, foreign policy advisor; friend to politicians, movie stars, the legendary; discoverer of Philip Roth, longtime wife of Bill Styron and together, America’s literary golden couple at home and abroad
“[Rose Styron] has lived a life in interesting times, among legendary characters, a life well worth telling—and reading about.” —The Washington Post An intimate portrait of a celebrated magic life and the famous and infamous who dropped in, summered, traveled with, played with, and the decades of friendship with everyone from Truman Capote and Robert Penn Warren to the Kennedys, the Bernsteins, Alexander Calder, John Hersey, and Lillian Hellman.
Here as well are the years of dedication and risk, traveling the world, from Pinochet’s Chile to El Salvador, Belfast, and Sarajevo, as Rose Styron, in search of those hiding from dictators and autocrats, bore witness to atrocities and human rights violations . . .
Styron writes of her childhood, born into a German Jewish, assimilated Baltimore family; a rebel from the start, studying poetry at Wellesley, Harvard, Johns Hopkins; traveling to Rome and her (second) meeting with Bill (the first time, “I can’t remember even shaking hands. I wasn’t thinking about him at all.”); their eventual marriage, and their more than fifty years together—in bucolic Roxbury, Connecticut, and on Martha's Vineyard.
She writes of Bill's writing and of retyping his manuscripts, discussing his writing progress, having babies, with visits from neighbors Arthur Miller; Mike Nichols and various wives; Dustin Hoffman buying the house over the hill; James Baldwin moving in to Styron’s writing studio and writing The Fire Next Time, with Baldwin encouraging Styron to write Nat Turner in first person; Frank Sinatra, sailing into Vineyard Haven Harbor and soon dropping by for dinners chez Styrons; the Kennedys having rowdy sleepovers . . .
And she writes in detail about Bill Styron's full-on breakdowns, his recovery from the first depression; writing Darkness Visible. And fifteen years later, the second much worse crash; Bill Styron’s death; her year of grief, teaching at Harvard; living full time on the Vineyard and making a new full life there . . .
About the Author
ROSE STYRON was born in Baltimore. She is the author of three volumes of poetry and numerous articles on human rights and foreign policy and edited The Selected Letters of William Styron. She has chaired PEN’s Freedom-to-Write Committee and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Awards, and has served on the boards of the Academy of American Poets, the Association to Benefit Children, and The Brain and Creativity Institute at USC.
“A memoir of an extraordinary life—poet, international human rights activist, founding member of Amnesty International USA, journalist, hostess, famous beauty, foreign policy advisor; friend to politicians, movie stars, the legendary; discoverer of Philip Roth, longtime wife of Bill Styron and together, America’s literary golden couple at home and abroad. [Rose Styron’s is a] life well worth telling—and reading about.” —Marion Winik, The Washington Post
“A riveting chronicle . . . Ms. Styron brings herself out of her husband’s shadow and into the light.” —Malcolm Forbes, The Wall Street Journal
“A journey through of a life well-lived.” —Abby Remer, MV Times
“[A]n intriguing, at times high-flying, well-lived life. . . Styron has a long history of making others feel special, and it’s invigorating to watch someone so seemingly comfortable in her own skin. You want to hang out with her for real.” —Gary Goldstein, LA Times
“A remarkable woman’s life well lived.” —Kirkus Review “A captivating read by a woman of incomparable grace and purpose.” —Daphne Merkin, Airmail