Over her two-day visit, Miller led a writers’ workshop open to interested members of the community, delivered a keynote address, and visited classes to discuss her work and writing process. In her keynote address, Miller shared her experiences as a writer and scholar of classic literature, as well as the personal history of her interest in the Greek storytelling tradition. Miller described how her involvement in the theatre inspired her first novel and fielded questions from students ranging from practical advice on writing a novel to finding a personal voice through writing.
Miller is an award-winning novelist whose first novel, The Song of Achilles, won the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times Bestseller. Her most recent novel, Circe, was an instant number one bestseller in the New York Times and won the 2018 Elle Big Book Award. In addition to her work as a novelist, Miller’s essays have appeared in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post to Lapham’s Quarterly and NPR.org. In addition to her work as a writer, Miller has also spent the last twenty years teaching Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare to high school students.
Students and faculty appreciated Miller’s intimate and personal approach to her role as Writer-in-Residence. Dr. Mary Edmonds, English Department Chair, captured this sentiment, saying, “It was a treat to have Madeline Miller on campus because as a former high school Latin, Greek, and theater teacher, she knew how to connect with our students. What impressed me most, though, was Miller’s ability to convey her passion for reading, writing, and art in her talk to the community. When a student asked, ‘How do you become a good writer?’, Miller’s response was instantaneous: ‘Read good books!’. After her talk, a number of students wrote to me to convey their excitement at hearing an artist speak so openly and engagingly about her art to them.”
In recognition of her many contributions to the school, Chatham Hall seeks to endow the Writer-in-Residence Program to name it in honor of Claudia Emerson ’75 who twice served as the Writer In Residence. A native of Chatham, Claudia Emerson later served as Dean and English teacher at her alma mater. She was recognized as the Poet Laureate of Virginia and was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize. Claudia Emerson passed away December 4, 2014.
Chatham Hall invites gifts to the fund. To make a donation please contact the Advancement Office, Attn: Claudia Emerson Writer in Residence Fund, 800 Chatham Hall Circle, Chatham, VA 24531. You may also contact Christine Knight, Director of Advancement, at 434-432-5549.