Kay Boyle was a renowned poet, teacher and author of poetry, short story collectives and numerous articles. For twenty years her short stories in the New Yorker helped to define literary form. As a woman in a man’s profession, she served as the New Yorker’s foreign correspondent in the 1940s.
She was encouraged by her mother to become a writer despite her formal education ending at the eighth grade. Ms. Boyle defined her writing as an expatriate in the “lost generation” colony of artist and writers in the Paris of the 1920s.
The accomplishments of which she was most proud were her teaching and humanitarian work. She was a professor of English at San Francisco State University for eighteen years, retiring at age seventy-seven. As a passionate woman with strong convictions, she sought to better the world by fighting Nazism and McCarthyism, focusing on the anti-war and civil rights movements, and by founding the San Francisco Chapter of Amnesty International.
Her awards and honors were legion, including O. Henry prizes for short stories, fellowships and a California Literature medal. She was one of the few women admitted to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and continued her writing after moving from San Francisco to Marin in 1989. In 1989, she was honored by the Women’s Foundation for her contributions to the causes of peace, freedom and human rights.