In recent years (2015-2023), the James Merrill House Committee has conducted interviews with these fourteen people who knew and loved Merrill. Their memories are personal, quirky, fun, and reveal the many ways in which Merrill interacted with his friends and family members. The individual videos are below, and can be found on the Merrill House YouTube channel. This project has been made possible by generous funding from Charles T. Clark.
Tolly Boatwright is Professor Emerita of Classical Studies, and taught regularly at Duke University and sporadically in Rome for 41 years. She knew JM and David Jackson in Stonington through her parents, Billy and Boat Boatwright.
Kathleen Bonann Marshall was introduced to James Merrill and his work as a student at UCLA in the 1970’s; it took nearly forty years to finish a Merrill dissertation, but “Dear Premises” has had a modest readership. Kathe was blessed with 20 years of James Merrill’s intimate, attentive, generous friendship, which included his active engagement with her two children—JM is still their household god.
Rachel Hadas is a poet, essayist, and translator, and Professor of English Emerita at Rutgers University-Newark. Introduced to Merrill by John Hollander, she met James Merrill in Athens in 1969, and they remained friends, in Athens and then in New York City, until Merrill's death in 1995.
Marilyn Aronberg Lavin is an art historian, teacher, researcher, and writer. Jimmy and she met in Rome in when she was a Fulbright,1951-52. They saw each other almost every day for the next nine months--sightseeing, traveling, eating and drinking--and formed a friendship that lasted a life-time.
Sibby Lynch was president of the Stonington Village Improvement Association when Merrill died and bequeathed his home in Stonington to the SVIA. Her parents were part of the Stonington literary circles which Merrill occupied.
J. D. "Sandy" McClatchy (1945 – 2018) was an American poet, opera librettist and literary critic. He was editor of the Yale Review and president of The American Academy of Arts and Letters. McClatchy was a lifelong friend and Merrill's literary co-executor.
Catherine Merrill is JM's eldest niece. She is a ceramicist and lives in San Francisco
Paul Merrill, JM's nephew, is a writer and was one of the first writers in residence at the Merrill House in Stonington.
Willard Spiegelman is a retired college professor, literary critic, and sometime journalist. He knew JM between 1979 and his death. As a literary critic and editor he wrote about Merrill's work, and published it. As a neighbor in CT he shared many meals and fun times with him, along the Stonington-New London corridor.
A poet and literary critic, Stephen Yenser is a Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA; the author of The Consuming Myth: The Work of James Merrill; the editor and annotator of Merrill’s The Book of Ephraim; the co-editor with J.D. McClatchy of four posthumous, omnibus volumes of Merrill’s poems and prose; the co-editor with Langdon Hammer of A Whole World: Letters from James Merrill; Merrill’s sole literary executor since the death of McClatchy; and the dedicatee of Merrill’s final volume of poems, A Scattering of Salts. He met James when he was teaching a poetry workshop at the University of Wisconsin in 1968, and when he left they began a correspondence and friendship that lasted until his death in 1995, during which time they exchanged letters about their lives and work and visited each other often in the United States and abroad, especially in Greece.