Alice McDermott

mcdremott284Alice McDermott

born June 27, 1953

The Richard A. Macksey Professor for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University, Alice McDermott  is also the author of seven novels, the latest of which, Someone, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. In 1998, Alice McDermott’s novel Charming Billy won both the American Book Award and the US National Book Award for Fiction. Her list of awards and honors is impressive and shows the talent that McDermott brings to each piece of her writing.


McDermott’s list of novels, as well as their awards and honors includes:

  • A Bigamist’s Daughter (1982)
  • That Night (1987) — finalist for the National Book Award, the Pen/Faulkner Award, and the Pulitzer Prize
  • At Weddings and Wakes (1992) — finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
  • Charming Billy (1998) — winner of an American Book Award (1999) and the National Book Award
  • Child of My Heart : A Novel (2002) — nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
  • After This (2006) — finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
  • Someone (2013) – longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award Fiction


McDermott attended St. Boniface School in Elmont, New York, on Long Island (1967), Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead (1971), and the State University of New York at Oswego, receiving her BA in 1975, and received her MA from the University of New Hampshire in 1978.

She has taught at UCSD and American University, has been a writer-in-residence at Lynchburg College and Hollins College in Virginia, and was lecturer in English at the University of New Hampshire. Her articles, reviews, and stories have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post, USA Today, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Redbook, Ms., Commonweal, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award and the Corrington Award for Literature.





Joan Miro

Joan Miró (Joan Miró i Ferrà), artist

Born: April 20, 1893, Barcelona, Spain

Died: December 25, 1983, Palma de Mallorca, Spain


Born to a watchmaker and consigned to Barcelona’s School of Commerce as a teen, Joan Miró could not shake the paintbrush in his hand or the images that stirred his mind. For most of his 90 years, Miró created stark, colorful, abstract images that established his unique artistic style and caught the eye of Hemingway, Picasso, and Surrealist Manifesto author André Breton. Miró, Breton concluded, was “the most surrealist of us all.”

Born in Barcelona, Miró suffered depression and typhoid fever at an early age. From his recovery bed, he decided to become an artist, casting a journey that would take him to Paris in 1920. There, taking advantage of a family connection, he met Pablo Picasso, who became mentor and guide, buying some of Miró’s work and introducing him to the radical society bubbling in Paris. Soon Miró’s tiny studio was filled with the hum of poets, playwrights and artists and, in this environment, he constructed one of his most lasting works, The Farm (1921). From his Paris perch, Miró was able to see his Catalonian roots with new clarity. “I wanted to put everything I loved about the country in the canvas, from a huge tree to a tiny little snail,” he later said. Ernest Hemingway glimpsed the painting and had to have it – agreeing to pay 5,000 francs, “four thousand two hundred and fifty francs more than I had ever paid for a picture,” he once said. Hemingway had to scrape the money together, stopping in Paris bars to lean on friends. “I would not trade it for any picture in the world,” Hemingway wrote. “It has in it all that you feel about Spain when you are there and all that you feel when you are away and cannot go there.”

Miró later returned to Spain and spent his last years in Palma de Mallorca, the birthplace of his wife, etching a larger body of work that revealed his uniqueness and freedom of spirit as painter, sculptor, and ceramicist. When Spanish dictator General Franco died in 1975, someone asked Miró what he had done to oppose the regime. “Free and violent things,” the artist replied.

“Down with weeping sunsets in canary yellow … Down with all that, made by crybabies!” – Joan Miró, mocking impressionism.


Wife: Pilar Juncosa (married Oct. 12, 1929)
Daughter: Dolores (born July 17, 1931)



The Farm, 1921-22

The Tilled Field, 1923-24

Harlequin’s Carnival, 1924-25



In 1974, Miró created a tapestry of wool and hemp for the World Trade Center in New York City. His World Trade Center Tapestry proved to be among the most expensive works of art lost during the terrorist attacks.



Beyond their friendship and love of art, Miró and Hemingway were occasional sparring partners.



Guggenheim International Award, 1958

Gold Medal of Fine Arts from the King of Spain, 1980






Expatriate Biographies | Starting a Bookstore with Sylvia Beach

Sylvia Beach, neé Nancy Woodbridge Beach

Born: March 14, 1887, Baltimore, Maryland

Died: October 5, 1962, Paris, France

Sylvia Beach was a businesswoman, writer, publisher, literary matchmaker, daughter of a Presbyterian minister, and friend to many. She was perhaps best known as the founder of Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookstore and lending library, which opened in 1919 in Paris at 8 rue Dupuytren. This, only a few years after Beach’s stint with the Serbian Red Cross during the latter part of World War I. Three years after its opening, the store moved to larger quarters, this time at 12 rue de l’Odeon. Beach went on to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses, no small feat. He repaid her by signing with another publisher a few years hence. No matter, Shakespeare and Company had become the the Lost Generation’s headquarters. All sorts of characters frequented the place including, but not limited to, the likes of T. S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, and Beach’s companion Adrienne Monnier. While studying French literature in Paris, Beach came across the name of Monnier’s rue de L’Odeon bookstore and decided to pay a visit. She did, and the two stayed together for nearly four decades until Monnier’s suicide in 1955.

“My loves were Adrienne Monnier and James Joyce and Shakespeare and Company.” — Sylvia Beach


Under the Nazi occupation in 1941 and before her arrest, Beach had shuttered her store and hid its stock in an upstairs apartment. Good thinking. Not long after, German soldiers arrested Beach after which she spent six months in an internment camp in Vittel, France. Two years later, a uniformed Ernest Miller “Papa” Hemingway came by and symbolically liberated Shakespeare and Company, although Beach never reopened her shop.


Shakespeare and Company
In 1951, New Jersey born George Whitman opened a bookshop, Le Mistral, on rue de la Bûcherie. In 1964, after Beach’s death, he renamed it Shakespeare and Company.

Sylvia Beach Hotel
Located at 267 NW Cliff Street, Newport, Oregon, just down the street from Nanana’s Irish Kitchen and Pub. Its guest rooms are named after various and sundry authors, such as Gertrude Stein.


Shakespeare and Company (1959)


Fitch, Noel Riley, Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1985.

Garner, Dwight, “Ex-Pat Paris as It Sizzled for One Literary Lioness”, “The New York Times,” April 18, 2010

Walsh, Keri. Editor. The Letters of Sylvia Beach, 2011