Phyllis McGinley Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

In addition to light verse, Phyllis McGinley wrote several books for children using a variety of different styles. These include Christmas stories, variations on traditional tales, fantasies, verse tales, and alphabet books. Some of her most popular works for children are The Most Wonderful Doll in the World (1950) and The Year Without a Santa Claus (1957).

McGinley also wrote several collections of essays. In both The Province of the Heart (1959) and Sixpence in Her Shoe (1964), she dealt primarily with the role of the housewife and with life in the suburbs. In Saint-Watching (1969), she portrayed the lives of several saints, emphasizing their warmth and humanity rather than their sanctity.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

One of Phyllis McGinley’s greatest achievements was to make poetry accessible to a wide audience. This was one of the main reasons she chose to write about everyday people and occurrences. As she commented in an interview that appeared in Time magazine in 1965: “At a time when poetry has become the property of the universities and not the common people, I have a vast number of people who have become my readers. I have kept the door open and perhaps led them to greater poetry.”

In addition to her popular success, McGinley received many academic honors and awards. The Love Letters of Phyllis McGinley received the Edna St. Vincent Millay Memorial Award, and Times Three won the Pulitzer Prize. She was elected a member of the National Institute for Arts and Letters and was selected to read her work at the White House. Wonderful Time was honored as one of the best books for children of 1966 by The New York Times. She received honorary doctorates from many institutions.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Allen, Everett S. Famous American Humorous Poets. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1968. The chapter on McGinley provides a good introduction to her work, including a biography, an evaluation of McGinley’s stature as a poet, and a discussion of her themes and style.

Bellafante, Ginia. “Suburban Rapture.” The New York Times Book Review, December 24, 2008, 23. This discussion of McGinley looks at her satisfaction with being a suburban housewife, although it notes that it was her salary that allowed her children to go to private school.

Hasley, Louis. “The Poetry of Phyllis McGinley.” Catholic World, August, 1970, 211-215. Hasley analyzes the different verse patterns that McGinley used throughout her career. He demonstrates the range of McGinley’s technical artistry by comparing her work to a set of standards for judging the various categories of light verse. He concludes that her work contains many characteristics of the Cavalier poets of the seventeenth century.

McGinley, Phyllis. “The Telltale Hearth.” Interview. Time, June 18, 1965, 74-78. In this interview, McGinley provides many anecdotes about her life, as well as describing her views on poetry, feminism, and her role in modern literature.

Richart, Bette. “The Light Touch.” Commonweal 9 (December, 1960):...

(The entire section is 420 words.)