Elsie Dunn Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Evelyn Scott was born Elsie Dunn, in Clarksville, Tennessee, but her family moved frequently before settling in New Orleans, where she studied at Sophie Newcomb College. There she fell in love with Frederick Wellman, a dean at Tulane University, married and twenty years her senior. In 1914, the two eloped, adopted assumed names (the Scotts), and fled to Brazil, where they later had a son, Creighton. Because of some health problems, they returned to the United States in 1919 and settled in the bohemian Greenwich Village.{$S[A]Dunn, Elsie;Scott, Evelyn}{$S[A]Souza, Ernest;Scott, Evelyn}

Drawing on her Brazilian experiences, Scott published thirteen poems in Poetry, an influential journal. She became familiar with the work of William Carlos Williams and Waldo Frank, writers who also became her lovers. She wrote literary reviews for The Dial and contributed poems to The Nation and in 1920 published Precipitations, a modernist collection of her poems. An admirer of James Joyce, she published a positive review of his play Exiles (1918), which perhaps was responsible for getting her own play, Love, produced at the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village. Her poetry and drama, however, were overshadowed by her fiction: The Narrow House, with its psychological insights and innovative prose style, was a success, despite the criticism of some conservative reviewers.

Because of financial problems, the Scotts moved to Cape Cod, then to Bermuda, where she wrote Narcissus and The Golden Door, the second and third novels in her first trilogy. While in Bermuda, she also completed...

(The entire section is 684 words.)