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Kelley, Edith Summers. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Kelley, Edith Summers.

Historical Note: Edith Summers was born in 1884 in Ontario, Canada.  She graduated from the University of Toronto in 1903, and she went to New York becoming Upton Sinclair's secretary for two years.  Part of this time was spent at the experimental Helicon Hall in Englewood, N.J., a "commune" of young writers, artists, and assorted idealists.  It was here that she met and became lifelong friends with Sinclair Lewis and many other young literary aspirants.  After Helicon Hall burned in 1907, she lived for a time in Greenwich Village, and in 1908 married Allan Updegraff, friend and roommate of Sinclair Lewis.  The marriage ended after six years and two children.  She then married C.F. Kelley, a sculptor whom she had met at Greenwich Village, and by whom she had another child.  They tried farming for a living in Kentucky, New Jersey, and eventually in California, where she wrote Weeds, a novel based on her experiences in Kentucky living among the poor.  Weeds was published in 1923, and met with literary acclaim, but few sales.  She continued writing, producing another novel, short stories and poems, none of which were published during her lifetime.  Her second novel, The Devil's Hand, was published by the SIU Press in 1974, subsequent to their reprinting of Weeds.  Mrs. Kelley died in California in 1956.

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