Phyllis McGinley

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Phyllis McGinley has had her verse set to music by John Duke, Libby Larsen, Gladys Rich, and several other composers. She also contributed lyrics to Leonard Bernstein's operetta Candide. Her children's book The Year Without a Santa Claus remains popular.

Photo: Phyllis McGinley, 1961, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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Born in Ontario, Oregon, Phyllis McGinley grew up in Colorado and Utah. After studying at the University of Southern California and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, she moved to New Rochelle, New York, working as a teacher and starting a career as a writer. She moved to New York City soon thereafter, and then, after marrying Charles Hayden, moved to the suburb of Larchmont, New York. The positive aspects of suburban life often provide the subject matter for her writing.

In addition to several books of poetry, McGinley wrote essays, children’s books, and lyrics. She also wrote the script for an animated film “The Emperor’s Nightingale” (1951). In 1961, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

McGinley’s life in the suburbs had an impact on her work.

–Christie Finn
Source: from the Academy of American Poets

Related Information


Times Three: Selected Verse from Three Decades (Pulitzer Prize Winner)

By Phyllis McGinley

The Province of the Heart (Essays)

By Phyllis McGinley

The Year Without a Santa Claus

By Phyllis McGinley


Sheet Music

Songs, Vol. 1 (WorldCat)

Composer(s): John Duke

View via WorldCat

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