This Goodly Land

Sara Henderson Hay (November 13, 1906–July 7, 1987)

Other Names Used

Alabama Connections

Selected Works

Literary Awards

Biographical Information

Sara Henderson Hay was born and spent her early years in Pittsburgh, Pa. Her mother was from Anniston, Ala., and the family made frequent visits there. Eventually, Hay and her mother and sister moved to Anniston, where Hay attended high school and published her poems in The Anniston Star. Hay enrolled at Brenau College (now Brenau University) in Gainesville, Ga., and was the editor of the college magazine during her freshman year. After several years, she transferred to Columbia University in New York City. Following her graduation, Hay worked for the publishing firm Charles Scribner’s Sons, initially as a secretary and eventually in the Rare Book Department. During this period, she did freelance proofreading and editing. She also began publishing her poems in poetry journals and in magazines such as The New Yorker. In 1933, a collection of Hay’s poetry, Field of Honor, won a contest held by Kaleidograph Press and was published.

In 1935, Hay took a job as secretary-companion to the journalist Gladys Baker and accompanied her on a trip to Europe to interview political leaders. After the trip, Hay returned to Scribner’s as a reviewer for The Saturday Review of Literature. She continued to publish her poetry as well. In 1951, Hay moved to Pittsburgh to be with her second husband whom she had met at the MacDowell Colony the previous summer. That same year, The Delicate Balance received the Edna St. Vincent Millay Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. Hay’s most popular work, Story Hour, was published in 1963. That year, the Governor of Pennsylvania named her a “Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.” Her last book published in her lifetime, A Footing on This Earth, appeared in 1966. During the 1960s and 1970s, Hay made personal appearances to do poetry readings, but she gave up the practice as her health declined. She died in her sleep at her home in Pittsburgh.

Interests and Themes

Many of Sara Henderson Hay’s poems are on topics related to family and domestic life. Her book, Story Hour, is an ironic reinterpretation of traditional fairy tales.

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Reference Book Prefaces

Location of Papers

Last updated on May 30, 2008.

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