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Mistress of the Blue Castle

The Writing Life of Phebe Florence Miller

By Vicki Hallett
Categories: Autobiography/biography/life Writing, Gender, Literary Studies, Newfoundland And Labrador Studies
Series: Social and Economic Studies
Series Number: 81
Paperback : 9781894725491, 212 pages, July 2018

Table of contents


Preface (vii)
Acknowledgements (xi)
Prologue: Graveside Visitation (xiii)

Phebe Florence Miller: A Writing Life (1)
Creating the Sea-Glass Window (13)
Place, Identity, and Life Writing (14)
Writing from the Blue Castle (19)

Poetry and Place (27)
Voices of the Island (30)
Private (Shadowed) Voices (44)
Patriotic Voices (49)
Miller’s Influence (66)

The Quotidian Matters: Journals and Diaries of Phebe Florence Miller (71)
The Journals (76)
The Diaries (85)

The intimate story of a forgotten poet and her influence on Newfoundland culture, told through the lens of her personal writings.


  • Short-listed, Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Non Fiction 2019


Phebe Florence Miller was a poet and postmistress who lived in Topsail, Newfoundland and Labrador from 1889–1979. Despite her success as a poetic voice in the 1920s and ’30s, Miller is an obscure figure for today’s readers. This book brings her life and her contributions to Newfoundland and Labrador culture back into focus through the lens of her most personal writing. Mistress of the Blue Castle: The Writing Life of Phebe Florence Miller is an evocative exploration of the ways that identity and place are created together through the diaries, journals, poems and letters that this mercurial artist left behind.


"A landmark book, Mistress of the Blue Castle seeks to illuminate the life and writing of a hitherto little-studied poet. The work is a significant contribution to the study of Newfoundland culture. "

- Mary Dalton, author of Edge and Merrybegot

"Hallett sieves through all the balladry, salutations, even Miller’s headstone, to sculpt an image of Miller, contextualized by the exchanges with those around her, as well as the momentous events – women’s suffrage, two world wars, Confederation – occurring in her time. "

- Joan Sullivan, The Telegram