The University of Wisconsin Press

Diaries & Journals / Gay & Lesbian Interest

A Heaven of Words
Last Journals, 1956–1984
Glenway Wescott
Edited and with an introduction by Jerry Rosco

Winner, Gay Memoir/Biography, Lambda Literary Awards

“When a writer like Wescott is famous in youth, it is the later years that are often more fascinating.”
—Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, author of Sex the Measure of All Things: A Life of Alfred C. Kinsey

Charm, wit, compassion, wisdom, literature, nature, sex, humor, politics, sorrow, love: these themes fill the late journal pages of enigmatic American writer Glenway Wescott. From humble beginnings on a poor Wisconsin farm, Wescott went on to study at the University of Chicago, narrowly survive the Spanish flu pandemic, and eventually emerge as an influential poet and novelist. A major figure in the American literary expatriate community in Paris during the1920s and a prominent American novelist in the years leading up to World War II, he spent a decade living abroad before relocating permanently to New York and New Jersey with his partner, Museum of Modern Art publications director and curator Monroe Wheeler.

Together they mixed with such intellectual and creative greats as Jean Cocteau, Colette, George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Somerset Maugham, Christopher Isherwood, Marianne Moore, W. H. Auden, Truman Capote, Joseph Campbell, and scores of other luminaries. During the second half of his life, Wescott wrote nonfiction essays and worked for the Academy Institute of Arts and Letters, all the while keeping journals in which he recorded the experiences that fostered his love of life, literature, the arts, and humanity. A Heaven of Words looks back on Wescott’s entire fascinating life and reveals the riveting narrative of his last decades.

“The strength of this collection is found in Wescott’s ability to portray, with nuanced awareness, his society and position in it. Elements and people come together as if in a dream. In brilliant moonlight or half-light they float before us in a hushed landscape. Fleetingly. Transiently. Tentatively.”
—Steven Haas, director of the George Platt Lynes Foundation

Glenway Wescott (1901–1987) began his writing career as a poet but is best known for his short stories and novels, notably The Grandmothers (1927), The Pilgrim Hawk: A Love Story (1940), and Apartment in Athens (1945).

Jerry Rosco is author of Glenway Wescott Personally: A Biography, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, and coeditor of Continual Lessons: The Journals of Glenway Wescott, 1937–1955. He lives in New York City.


“Frank, honest, and fascinating, A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956‒1984 is highly recommended.”
Midwest Book Review

“These entries are the work of a master of the craft of self-examination and reflection, written from the perspective of mature experience. Brilliantly edited and loaded with photographs, this volume goes on the shelf with the best of those writers we call The Lost Generation.”
OutSmart Magazine

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Of Related Interest:
Rosco's book is illustrated with a black and white photo of Wescott relaxing in a chair.Glenway Wescott Personally
A Biography
Jerry Rosco
"[Rosco] sets forth clearly the public triumphs and private sufferings experienced during this long and interesting life. A biography of a 'minor' writer such as Wescott is always a labor of love and readers can only be grateful to Rosco for his curiosity and eloquence."—Edmund White, The New York Review of Books


June 2013
LC: 2012037076 PS
314 pp.   5 1/2 x 8 1/4  
24 b/w photos

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ISBN 978-0-299-29424-3
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“A frank and insightful collection of later journals from a brilliant gay writer and Lost Generation survivor. Full of literary and sexual anecdotes, wise ruminations on the writer’s craft, and poignant reflections on growing older as a writer and a lover of men, A Heaven of Words shows Wescott’s Haymeadows home to be a microcosmic, literary Downton Abbey.”
—Kevin Bentley, author of Wild Animals I Have Known: Polk Street Diaries and After


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Updated 11/17/2014

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