Carolyn Chute collection, 1984-2009
Collection Scope and Content
This collection consists almost entirely of newspaper and magazine interviews with the author and reviews of her publications. The material reveals a great deal about her personal life and how it influences her writing. There is also information about her involvement in the 2nd Maine Militia, which she founded in 1995, premised on the negative aspects of the influences of corporations on the working class. Also in the collection is an audiotape of Chute’s speech at the University of Hartford in 1986 in addition to video material of her presentation at Maine Women Writers Collection in 2002, and ephemera relating to a 1989 Stonecoast’s Writers’ Conference.
Carolyn Chute was born Carolyn Penny in Portland, Maine in 1947. At the age of sixteen, Chute dropped out of high school and married almost immediately. She had a daughter named Johanna, and then divorced, leaving Chute to support her daughter by working several odd jobs, which included driving a school bus, waitress, and potato farm worker. After marrying her current husband, Michael Chute, in 1978, Chute completed her high school education and took classes at the University of Maine.
She started to write stories while attending a writing workshop at the university, and her work was published in magazines such as Grand Street and Ploughshares. She was also a part-time suburban correspondent for The Portland Evening Express. During this time she started work on her most well known novel, The Beans of Egypt, Maine (1985). The novel was well received, becoming a bestselling and critically acclaimed book. Her novel gave Maine its most prominent position in the literary world at the time. Chute’s graphic, bold, and unflinchingly honest portrayal of rural life has not had many counterparts in recent decades, especially not among women writers. Her other novels include Letourneau’s Used Auto Parts (1988), Merry Men (1994), Snow Man (1999), The School on Heart’s Content Road (2008), and Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves (2014). She currently resides in Parsonsfield, Maine.