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Livestream: Rose Styron, Beyond This Harbor: Adventurous Tales of the Heart, with Jenny Allen

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 - 6:00 PM | Online | open to the public | $10 per person | registration required


A memoir of an extraordinary life—from a 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 half of America’s literary golden couple at home and abroad.

Beyond This Harbor is 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 in search of those hiding from dictators and autocrats and bearing witness to atrocities and human rights violations. Styron writes of her childhood; born into a German Jewish, assimilated Baltimore family, she was a rebel from the start, studying poetry at Wellesley, Harvard, and 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; and 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.

“[Rose Styron] has lived a life in interesting times, among legendary characters, a life well worth telling—and reading about.” —The Washington Post

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 she 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.

Jenny Allen is a writer and performer. She is the author of Would Everybody Please Stop?: Reflections on Life and Other Bad Ideas, and her essays and articles have appeared for years in many magazines, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, New York, Vogue, Esquire, Huffington Post, and Good Housekeeping. Recent essays appear in “Disquiet, Please!”a new anthology of humor pieces from the New Yorker, and in In The Fullness of Time: 32 Women on Life After 50 (Simon & Schuster). jennyallenwrites.com Photo by Jayne Wexler

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