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Interview with Virginia Hamilton Adair by Anna van Lenten [US]:
Virginia's husband, Douglass Adair, was a Professor of History and an Editor of the William & Mary Quarterly. Douglass was a revered scholar whose work on the American founding is considered fundamental to the field. In 1968 he inexplicably shot himself in their bedroom while Virginia was preparing dinner downstairs in the kitchen. She wrote many poems about this.


AVL: That's fine… my other question was, were you taught other languages?

VA: When I was four, I was at a Montessori School that took boys up to a certain level. And I remember the day that the boys had been taught to bow and the girls to spread their skirts, which was pretty silly. But—let's see, where was I?

[Joanne Gonzalez]: The languages, Virginia.

VA: Oh yes. They said 'Oh all right…'—this was our teacher. She said, 'Alright now, those of you that can write go down the corridor and start French. So we were four-year-olds and maybe a five-year-old or two, but mostly four. And when I went home that day at supper I told them that we had learned to speak French. And my father said, 'Let's hear it.' And I said 'Un, deux, trois, girer dans le bois. Quatre, cinq, six—.' And I stopped, that was as far as I could go. And my father said kindly, 'Un, deux, trois/ Quatre, cinq, six/ Send for the police.' My mother rebuked him for such….but anyway, that was the story. We had French teachers that spoke only French. Every now and then they would break down and speak English … I remember one day I saw a spider going across the floor. And I went [makes a stomping motion with her foot.] And the teacher said 'Stop, that animal is my guest.' And I had to withdraw my foot. But I remember she was such a strange mademoiselle. Well this one was—I was no longer in New York, but mademoiselle used to come out from — I don't know, the train, I guess—

JG: Well Virginia, I don't know how many languages you learned—Latin, French—but I've read tons of poetry to her and often I don't know how to pronounce the poet's name or some of the words. She always knows. She always corrects me. And I've learned a lot.

VA: I remember much better those things than I do the present. On the other hand, I'm quite eager to see the old written friends [poems] emerging back, coming back. And — what's the little….?

JG: The chapbook?

VA: Yes.

Virginia's chapbook Magical Highways was issued in 2002. It holds two poems, one of which, 'Dawn Blessing,' is about Shiloh, Virginia and Douglass' house in the desert.

AVL: Which I have, and I was very happy to have it, because it's the latest thing from you.

VA: Well that was another thing that didn't belong to me, or maybe just corners of it belonged to me.

JG: Virginia kept trying to give me credit for 'Sheltering Sands' and I said, 'No, I did not write that.'
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