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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Lily Briscoe

A Self Portrait

by (author) Mary Meigs

Initial publish date
Jan 1981
Personal Memoirs
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1981
    List Price

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Taking as her alter-ego Lily Briscoe–the painter in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse–Mary Meigs paints a portrait of herself, her family and her friends in Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait, a book that is both autobiography and memoir. In it, she describes the three major decisions of her life: "not to marry, to be an artist" and to listen to her "own voices." She speaks of her parents who belonged to "a generation before their own" and how they instilled in her a sense of guilt, locking her in the prison of her self, a prison constructed "with the material of doubt and failure; of shattered dreams and unhappy loves, jealousy, hate, envy and the deadly sins of lovelessness and indifference," but she also tells how she escapes from this prison with the knowledge that her inner sun takes its energy "from love, from creativity."

Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait is a book about the exercise of the will, the art of dreaming and the transcendent power of friendship. It is a very wise book written by a woman who waited–and lived–some sixty years before beginning to write.

About the author

Mary Meigs
Born in Philadelphia, writer and painter Mary Meigs wrote her first novel, Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait, at the age of 60. For the next two decades, Meigs chronicled her extraordinary life as a writer, a painter, an actress, a social activist and a lesbian feminist. In 1988, Meigs played herself in the critically acclaimed film The Company of Strangers (U.S. release title: Strangers in Good Company; French title: Le Fabuleux gang des sept [1990]), about eight women on a bus tour who are stranded in isolated countryside when the bus breaks down. In the Company of Strangers (1991) followed, a fascinating work documenting her experience during the production of the film. Mary Meigs died in 2002 at the age of 85, shortly before the completion of Beyond Recall.

Mary Meigs' profile page

Editorial Reviews

“A series of landscapes and life drawings, skillfully created.”
Humanities and Applied Arts

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