Tending a Legacy

MARY PAGE STEGNER ON LIFE AND WORK
By Diane Manuel

See also Prominent Authors on the Creative Writing Program



U p a long, narrow road, through a white gate, past a water tank that students built more than 50 years ago, the single-story home is settled on a hilltop with an expansive view. The walkway that leads past bordering pyracantha bushes is uneven, some might say lopsided.

It was here, on Sunday afternoons, that Wallace Stegner used to take a break from his writing to come out and putter, chipping away at the resistant ground and laying bricks, one by one.

“They’re pretty unprofessionally done,” says Mary Page Stegner, laughing. “I don’t know why Wally thought he could do it. And as he got older, he probably shouldn’t have.”

Three years after her husband’s death, Stegner continues to welcome visitors who come to talk about his literary legacy. For 59 years she intercepted his phone calls while he wrote, and edited his short stories while he waited nearby in his favorite Danish modern chair, and today she has assumed a new role with pride and good humor.

Mid-morning sun highlights Stegner’s delicate face as she leans into a comfortable semicircular sofa that has seen its share of upholsterers over the years. At her back, floor-to-ceiling windows provide a vista of distant hillsides dotted with madrone and dry grass. They are the hills where she and her husband rode horses with their son, Page, the hills Robert Frost loved to climb whenever he came West for a visit.

“Robert used to walk up and down over there,” Stegner says, pointing beyond the wooden deck that encircles a massive live oak. “He could never eat before his talks to students. He just walked, and then had a raw egg, beaten up.”

Stegner’s Legacy (Plain text)

Previous | Next


MARCH/APRIL 1996

 In This Issue

DEPARTMENTS
 Editor’s Note
 President’s Letter

NEWS
 Campus News
 21st Century Lab
 Campus News

 Sci & Med
 Total Access
 Sci & Med News

FEATURES
 Forum
 About the Sixties

 Essay
 Continents Apart

 Creative Writing
 The Big X
 Stegner's Legacy
 Short Story

HOME
GUEST SERVICES
SEARCHING
ST COLLECTION
NEWS SERVICE
ALUMNI
EMAIL THE EDITOR
COMING UP