Eva Palmer Sikelianos: A Life in Ruins

The first biography of a visionary twentieth-century American performer who devoted her life to the revival of ancient Greek culture


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Published (US):
Nov 17, 2020
Published (UK):
Dec 8, 2020
6.13 x 9.25 in.
57 b/w illus.
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This book tells the fascinating story of Eva Palmer Sikelianos (1874–1952), an American actor, director, composer, and weaver best known for reviving the Delphic Festivals. Yet, as Artemis Leontis reveals, Palmer’s most spectacular performance was her daily revival of ancient Greek life. For almost half a century, dressed in handmade Greek tunics and sandals, she sought to make modern life freer and more beautiful through a creative engagement with the ancients. A brilliant and gorgeous New York debutante who studied Greek at Bryn Mawr College, Palmer rejected conventional society to live a lesbian life in Paris before moving to Greece, where she married the poet Angelos Sikelianos and began recreating ancient art forms. Drawing on newly discovered letters and featuring previously unpublished photographs, this is a vivid biography of a remarkable nonconformist whom one contemporary described as “the only ancient Greek I ever knew.”

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Awards and Recognition

  • One of the Times Literary Supplement's Books of the Year 2019