Vassar opens Edna St. Vincent Millay exhibition this week, welcomes Zadie Smith Feb. 9

Edna St. Vincent Millay in her private library upstairs at Steepletop, c. 1935

The spring of 2017 marks the centennial of the graduation of one of Vassar College’s most illustrious alumnae: Edna St. Vincent Millay, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. Vassar is celebrating the milestone with the installation of “Edna St. Vincent Millay: Treasures from Steepletop” in the Thompson Memorial Library and the Art Library, opening this week and running through mid-June.

Curated by Millay Society vice president Mark O’Berski, the exhibition brings artifacts from Steepletop, the museum in Austerlitz in Columbia County that was Millay’s country retreat for the last 25 years of her life. Organized by season, the show features candid photos of the Jazz Age poet’s Bohemian life at Steepletop, excerpts from her letters, first-edition books and poems. Also featured are numerous personal items, including Millay’s traveling typewriter, her hunting rifle, china and crystal and jewelry.


Photo of Zadie Smith by Dominique Nabokov

The centennial exhibition opens on Wednesday, January 25 and runs through June 11. Admission is free; but if you need an additional incentive to pay a visit to the Vassar campus, you might also want to check out this year’s annual Krieger Lecture, coming up on February 9. “An Evening with Zadie Smith” will feature the highly influential, award-winning British author reading from recent works, which include the acclaimed novel Swing Time. Smith will also be interviewed by Vassar professor of English Amitava Kumar; a question-and-answer session and book-signing will follow.

“An Evening with Zadie Smith” begins at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 9 on the second floor of the Students’ Building. This event is also free and open to the public, but it’s a good idea to arrive early if you want to find parking that’s not a long walk away from the lecture site. That makes spending some time perusing the Millay exhibition beforehand all the more tempting. The Vassar campus is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie. For more information, visit