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Mary Lee Settle Edit Profile

novelist , writer

Mary Lee Settle, American author. Founder Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists association/Faulkner award, 1980. Recipient Merrill Foundation award, 1975, Academy award in literature American Academy Arts and Letters, 1994; John Simon Guggenheim fellow, 1958, 60. Served with Womens Auxiliary, Royal Air Force, 1942-1943.


Settle, Mary Lee was born on July 29, 1918 in Charleston, West Virginia, United States. Daughter of Joseph Edward and Rachel (Tompkins) Settle.


She attended Sweet Briar College for two years, then moved to New York City in pursuit of a career as an actress and model, and tested for the part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.


During World War II, she joined the British Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and then the Office of War Information. She taught at Bard College, the Iowa Writers' hop, and University of Virginia. She lived for many years in Canada, in England, and in Turkey.

Settle is most famous for a series of novels called The Beulah Quintet (Prisons, O Beulah Land, Know Nothing, The Scapegoat, The Killing Ground), which cover the history of West Virginia. She wrote several works of non-fiction. She died of lung cancer in Ivy, Virginia on September 27, 2005, aged 87, while writing her last book.


  • She won the 1978 National Book Award for her novel Blood Tie and was a founder of the annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.



Served with Womens Auxiliary, Royal Air Force, 1942-1943.


Married Rodney Weathersbee, 1939 (divorced 1946). 1 child, Christopher Weathersbee. Married Douglas Newton, 1946 (divorced 1956).

Married William Littleton Tazewell, September 2, 1978.

Joseph Edward Settle

Rachel (Tompkins) Settle

Rodney Weathersbee

Douglas Newton

William Littleton Tazewell

Christopher Weathersbee Settle