May Merrill Miller

May Merrill Miller

May Merrill Miller (1894–1975) was an American woman writer best known for her novel First the Blade which offers a unique view of the domestic life of California pioneers as well as on the Mussel Slough Tragedy.

Life and work

Miller was born in 1894 in Hanford, California. Growing up the granddaughter of early California pioneers, Miller was privy to many stories of the earliest California settlers. Consequently Miller gained an intimate understanding of the early southern San Joaquin landscape and the domestic life of those pioneers who settled there. Miller attended the University of California and the University of Minnesota and participated in the prestigious Bread Loaf Writers' Conference hosted by Middlebury College. At this conference, Miller studied with western historian and novelist Bernard DeVoto and subsequently converted the various stories she heard growing up into a unified novel. Miller published the resulting novel, First the Blade, in 1938. The novel depicts the daily life of Californian pioneers through the perspective of a fictional woman settler. The novel also includes a fictionalized account of the Mussel Slough gunfight that resulted from a land dispute between local pioneer settlers and the Southern Pacific Railroad. The novel is praised for its unique female perspective on pioneer life as well as for its verisimilitude and detailed realism.[1] In 1949, Miller published a book of poetry entitled Mother Lode, 1849 to 1949.

Today UCLA annually awards the May Merrill Miller award to a female student for work in fiction or poetry.[2]


  1. ^ Beers, Terry, ed. Gunfight at Mussel Slough: Evolution of a Western Myth. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2004.
  2. ^ UCLA Department of English : Academics : Undergraduate Program

External links

2 short radio episodes Wildflowers and The Gates Shall be Opened from First the Blade at California Legacy Project.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Merrill Markoe — Born August 13, 1948 (1948 08 13) (age 63) Occupation Author, screenwriter Alma mater University of California, Berkeley (B.A. in Art 1970; M.A. in 1972)[1] …   Wikipedia

  • May 2005 — was the fifth month of that year. It began on a Sunday and ended after 31 days, on a Tuesday. May 2005: ← – January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September –… …   Wikipedia

  • Miller Huggins — Second Baseman/Manager Born: March 27, 1879 Cincinnati, Ohio …   Wikipedia

  • Miller Barber — Personal information Nickname Mr. X Born March 31, 1931 (1931 03 31) (age 80) Shreveport, Louisiana …   Wikipedia

  • May 17 — << May 2011 >> Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa 1 2 3 4 5 …   Wikipedia

  • Merrill Lynch — This article is about Merrill Lynch as an independent company prior to its January 2009 acquisition by Bank of America and its continuing existence as the wealth management division of Bank of America. For the corporate and investment banking… …   Wikipedia

  • Robert Merrill — The top talents of NBC radio, including Robert Merrill, were caricatured by Sam Berman for NBC s 1947 promotional book. Robert Merrill (June 4, 1917 – October 23, 2004) was an American operatic baritone. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Dennis Miller — Miller speaking at JavaOne, 2005. Born November 3, 1953 (1953 11 03) (age 58) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States …   Wikipedia

  • Romeo Miller — Miller in 2009. Background information Birth name Percy Miller …   Wikipedia

  • Nathaniel Merrill — (February 8, 1927 September 9, 2008[1]) was a celebrated American stage director and opera director. He was the resident stage director at the Metropolitan Opera from 1956 1985. During his 28 seasons at the Met he staged a total of 14 new… …   Wikipedia