Artist's Collective #3 - Maeve Brennan

I first heard about Maeve after reading Kate Bolick's Spinster  at the beginning of 2016. (At first I hated this book, but then it grew on me as Kate's story continued, but I digress.) Brennan is one of Kate's Five Awakeners and consequently, one of the people in my Artist Collective. I think that Maeve lived the life that she wanted to live and I think because of that she is a strong female role model.

Suffice it to say, Maeve Brennan was thought-provoking at the least. I've included Maeve in my Artist Collective series because she inspires me to challenge myself artistically. She wrote in one way or another her entire life, even toward the end when she literally had nothing left. There are people who talk about doing something, being a creative and producing work, and then there are the people who actually DO it.  Maeve reminds me that life is short and you need to live your passion because it can all be taken away in the blink of an eye.

Being born in Dublin, when she was 17 Maeve and her family moved to Washington, DC. After earning her degree in English, Maeve found work as a fashion copywriter for Harper's Bazaar in the '40's.
I guess she had a thing for funky glasses?

Maeve wrote for several magazines including The New Yorker. Then WHAM, BAM, BOOM, she's off to the races and publishing several of her short stories with The New Yorker. Among other articles, her Long-Winded Lady sketches take off, snapshots of everyday life in New York. The 'most reckless, most ambitious, most confused, most comical, the saddest and coldest and most human of cities.' The next thing Maeve knew, she'd been with The New Yorker for more than 30 years.

Although she was a strikingly beautiful picture of style and refinement, I'd like to think that she was admired for her intellect, wit and sense of style more so than her physical beauty. Picture it: a tiny little waif of a woman, too big for her own stature to contain, dressed all in black. Her long, roasted-chestnut mane, wavy, pulled back and secured elegantly, revealing feminine, gentle poignant features. Maeve had a fearsome reputation, a wry sense of humor. She never stayed living in one place for very long, and had many friends.

She was generous with her money, worked and drank in excess, and had a love affair with one man but married another. Working continuously, Meave wrote columns, short stories and is best known for her social commentary in "Talk of the Town" under the pen name The Long-Winded Lady.

Fast forward to the '60's: Maeve is divorced from her husband and she continued writing, but her mental grip started to slip.  Her eccentricities became something else, something disturbing to her family of friends.  Take paranoia, throw that in a blender with a whole lotta alcoholic, a handful of obsessiveness and a dash of homelessness, and we have a tale of tragedy.  

Hospitalization lead to Maeve's housing issue and left her penniless.  Maeve would sleep in the ladies room at The New Yorker.  Her pristine, clean and professional look became, well, things fell apart. Her deterioration continued into the 80's. Maeve was last seen sitting in the lobby of The New Yorker in 1981.

She was admitted to a nursing home and died from heart attack at the age of 76.  Maeve is buried in Queens, NY.


  1. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing. Take care. Hugs Jackie


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