Elinor Wylie

A poet and novelist whose life was surrounded in scandal, Elinor Wylie's poem "Velvet Shoes," written and published in 1920, has been widely anthologized and set by several American composers, from John Duke to Randall Thompson.

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About

Born in Somerville, New Jersey, Wylie’s family was socially prominent, though her childhood was surrounded by tumult. Her mother was unstable, her father had a mistress, and one of her brother’s committed suicide (two other siblings attempted). Wylie suffered from high blood pressure throughout her life, which precipitated her early death by a stroke at the age of 43. Wylie was raised to be a debutant and society woman.

Wylie’s personal life throughout her adulthood was surrounded in scandal. She had three husbands, the second of which was the lawyer Horace Wylie, who encouraged her literary career.

Wylie’s literary life was jump-started in 1916, when she and Horace moved to New York City. Wylie began to move in literary circles and achieved literary success with her poem “Velvet Shoes,” which was published in Poetry magazine in 1920 and has been reprinted in poetry anthologies ever since.

Her 1921 volume Nets to Catch the Wind is considered by some to be her best collection of poetry, though she published several novels and volumes of poetry afterward and continued to stay in the public eye. She said that she used a “small clean technique” in writing her poetry, and her poems are often miniaturist, meaning that they are short and well-polished.

–Christie Finn

Related Information

Books

Selected Works of Elinor Wylie

By Elinor Wylie

Private Madness: The Genius of Elinor Wylie

By Evelyn Hively

The Life and Art of Elinor Wylie

By Judith Farr

Videos

Songs

Sheet Music

Richard Cory & Selected Songs

Composer(s): John Duke

Song(s): Richard Cory
Calvary
Luke Havergal
Miniver Cheevy
Bells in the Rain
Velvet Shoes
Viennese Waltz
Evening
Just-Spring
When I Set Out for Lyonnesse
Yellow Hair
Morning in Paris
In the Fields
The Mountains Are Dancing
Spring Thunder
Be Still As You Are Beautiful
One Red Rose
O World
The Song of Wandering Aengus
Brown Penny

Voice Type: Mixed

Buy via Carl Fischer Music

Songs By John Duke, Vol. 1

Composer(s): John Duke

Song(s): 1. When the Rose Is Brightest (Nathaniel Parker Willis)
2. Stopping by Woods on а Snowy Evening (Robert Frost)
3. The Puritan's Ballad (Elinor Wylie)
4. Midcentury Love Letter (Phyllis McGinley)
5. All Beauty Calls You to Me (Sara Teasdale)
6. Listen, I Love You (Sara Teasdale)
7. I am so weak а Thing (Sara Teasdale)
8. All Things in the World Can Rest, But I (Sara Teasdale)
9. Oh, My Love (Sara Teasdale)
10. Renouncement (Alice Meynell)
11. Noonday (Traditional Chinese)
12. Through Your Window (Traditional Chinese)
13. The Shoreless Sea (Traditional Chinese)
14. New Feet within My Garden Go (Emily Dickinson)
15. The Rose did Caper on Her Cheek (Emily Dickinson)
16. Have You Got а Brook in Your Little Heart? (Emily Dickinson)
17. I Taste а Liquor Never Brewed (Emily Dickinson)
18. The Better Part (George Santayana)

Voice Type: High

Buy via Keiser / Southern Music

The Songs of John Duke

Composer(s): John Duke

Song(s): The Babe
The Bird
Little Elegy
Loveliest of Trees
February Twilight
A Piper
I Watched The Lady Caroline
Peggy Mitchell
When I Was One-And-Twenty
April Elegy
Elaine
Fragment
The Grunchin' Witch
Here In This Spot With You
I Can't Be Talkin' Of Love
I Carry Your Heart
I Ride The Great Black Horses
The Last Word Of A Bluebird
Shelling Peas
The White Dress

Voice Type: High

Buy via Hal Leonard

The Songs of John Duke

Composer(s): John Duke

Song(s): The Babe
The Bird
Little Elegy
Loveliest of Trees
February Twilight
A Piper
I Watched The Lady Caroline
Peggy Mitchell
When I Was One-And-Twenty
April Elegy
Elaine
Fragment
The Grunchin' Witch
Here In This Spot With You
I Can't Be Talkin' Of Love
I Carry Your Heart
I Ride The Great Black Horses
The Last Word Of A Bluebird
Shelling Peas
The White Dress

Voice Type: Low

Buy via Hal Leonard

Women's Voices

Composer(s): Ned Rorem

Voice Type: High

Buy via Boosey & Hawkes

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