Margaret (Peggy) Freydberg, novelist, poet, source of inspiration and great friend to so many, died at home on March 27th surrounded by people who loved her. She had celebrated her 107th birthday three weeks earlier.
Peggy was born and had her early schooling in Rochester, New York. As a young woman she attended the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York, where she discovered to her surprise and delight that she had a strong and original mind. Soon after her graduation from Dobbs, she married Samuel Sloan, moving first to Cambridge, MA and then in the late 1920’s into 1930, to Paris where Sam worked as a literary talent scout. Her first published writing was a series of dispatches to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle describing her life in the French capital.
After Sam’s death in 1945, Peggy worked as an editor at his publishing house, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, and later taught creative writing at New York University and at the Linden Hill School for youth in need. She met and married Nicholas Freydberg while she was living in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. and they moved to the Vineyard full time in 1968. Peggy and Nick shared a great love and respect for each other. Their rich relationship and the mysteries of love and fulfillment were inspiration for her books, and Nick’s death in 1994 was a tremendous loss that is reflected in many of her later poems.
Peggy wrote articles and short stories and then moved to novels. Her first novel, “The Bride” was published in 1952 by Harper and Brothers, and was followed by “The Lovely April,” “Winter Concert,” “Katherine’s House,” “The Consequences of Loving Syrah,” and “Growing up in Old Age.” When she was in her 90’s Peggy turned to poetry, publishing the collections “Evening on the Pond,” “Wanting,” and “In Other Words.” Her final piece was a short story, “’Cruachan’ The Battle Cry of the Scottish Cheiftains.” A book about her, including a collection of her poetry, writing, and photographs, is expected to be published in May.
Over the many years she lived here, a large, diverse and loving group of friends of all ages developed around Peggy. Her beautiful home and light-filled living room overlooking Stonewall Pond is fondly remembered by many who were engaged with her in a variety of groups involving music, literature, mindfulness, and gatherings of all sorts. As she grew older, Peggy received wonderful support and love from numerous people who gently and graciously cared for her until the end of her life. Peggy and her family are forever grateful to these individuals. Peggy was known for her great spirit, her appreciation of nature and beauty, her elegance, and her deep care and interest in the people around her. In her later years, she fondly recalled the Dobbs school motto from her childhood, “Do it with thy might!” She lived life with all the spirit, passion and enthusiasm this phrase embodies.
In her immediate family she leaves a daughter and a son, seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. A memorial gathering will be planned for early summer. The Chilmark Library and its staff was one of Peggy’s great loves. Should anyone wish to make an offering in her memory, please consider donating to the Margaret Howe Freydberg Fund at the Chilmark Library.
In her final instructions to her family in preparation for her death, she left us the following message taken from the book, “Oriental Tales” by Marguerite Yourcenar. “I’m going to die,” he said with difficulty. “I cannot complain of a destiny I share with the flowers, the insects, and the stars….”