Smith College is know for attracting intelligent, passionate and talented individuals. As students, we are well aware of the influential women who have passed through the college's doors and walked its halls, and we look up to these women for inspiration. Some of the individuals I will mention below may have only traversed the paths of our campus for a short time, while others passed through the Grécourt Gate, leaving their alma mater to enter a new phase of their lives and make a difference in ours. Whether or not we graduate from Smith College, we will always be considered Smithies. Below are three talented Smithies whose writings have inspired me throughout my young life:
1. Margaret Mitchell - Class of 1922
"Gone With The Wind" is one of my all time favorite books (and the movie does it great justice). I first read Mitchell's book during my junior year of high school and, upon learning she attended the college to which I was applying, I could not help but become more excited at the prospect of attending Smith.
While Mitchell did not complete her undergraduate education at Smith due to familial obligations following her mother's death, her experience at the college played an important role throughout her life and writing career. It is rumored that the magnificent staircase of Scarlet O'Hara's beloved home in "Gone With The Wind" was inspired by the staircase in Chapin house, Michell's residence while at Smith.
2. Sylvia Plath - Class of 1955
"Mad Girl's Love Song" is not one of Plath's most well-known poems, yet it has become my favorite poem of all. As with any art form, this poem leaves room for interpretation. Depending on one's sentiments, "Mad Girl's Love Song" can have many meanings. In fact, each time I read this poem, I understand it differently.
What strikes me most, however, is the fact that Plath wrote this poem at the age of 20 while attending Smith. This neurotic poem is the antecedent of her career as a brilliant, complex and melancholic writer.
3. Madeleine L'Engle - Class of 1941
I read "A Wrinkle In Time" when I was in middle school, not knowing then I would attend the alma mater of its brilliant author whose determination to overcome rejection lead to the publication of this classic children's book. Having won a Newberry Award among many others, one might find it hard to believe that "A Wrinkle In Time" was refused by 26 different publishers.
L'Engle hypothesized a possible explanation for these rejections, saying that it was due to the uncommon phenomena of having a female protagonist in a science fiction book. In reflecting upon her time at Smith, L'Engle wrote, "I left Smith assuming all doors were open to me. That's a useful attitude for opening the occasional closed one." As I near the end of my college career, I plan to keep my beloved author's words close at heart.