Friday, January 18, 2019

MacLeish's Early Home Education

Martha MacLeish

MacLeish's early schooling was conducted at home, and he and his brothers loved learning about the various creation stories. Of the Hebrew, Greek, and Norse stories, they thought the Hebrew version was best (page 25; Edward Arthur Morin, "An Interpretive Study of Archibald MacLeish's Plays" (1967). Dissertations. Paper 854).

The children had had Bible stories reserved for Sundays from the beginning of the reading program, when Archibald was three years old. At first Martha read isolated stories and then, when the children asked her to begin at the beginning and read the whole Bible, she began with Genesis (page 27).

"Occurring as it did between Archibald's fifth and ninth years and in an informal but supervised way on into his adolescence, with the Bible readings beginning when Archibald was three, the program reached a climax when the young mind was most impressionable for the formation of life long habits" (pages 30-31).

MacLeish entered the prestigious Hotchkiss School in 1907, when he was 15, and graduated in 1911, age 18. Scott Donaldson, writing in Archibald MacLeish: An American Life, informs us that in the Hotchkiss annual literary contest between the Forum and its rival society, the Agora, in December 1909, MacLeish read his essay "John Milton," which contributed to the Forum's victory by winning the best essay award.

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