Born in the heart of the Great Depression, Peggy Ullman Bell grew up in books, dozens of books, as many as 12 a week the summer she was 15.
Reared in historic Gettysburg and York, Pennsylvania, Ms. Bell yearned to learn what women were doing while men were fighting battles and making revolutions. The history books did not tell her, and thus her search began.
Women at Gettysburg FIXIN’ THINGS, a coming of age novel set during and after the Battle of Gettysburg was Ms. Bell’s gift to her mother, Eva May Lightner, deceased.
An accomplished poet in her own right, Ms. Bell became interested in Sappho, The Poetess of Lesbos in the flamboyant Hollywood of the 1960s when everyone around her seemed to know The Lesbian’s name, but no one could answer any of Ms. Bell’s questions about her. Long hours in the library, and an endless supply of books obtained through Interlibrary Loan showed Sappho to have been a woman of genius, so well respected that men quoted from her work three hundred years after her death, and yet what few of her words escaped the destruction of the Library of Alexandria were lost through the philosophical purges of an 11th century Pope.
To Peggy Ullman Bell, the challenge was inescapable. Psappha, as Sappho called herself, was an enigma calling to her across the centuries, begging for resolution. How could a curious Aquarian resist?
With her innate appetite for answers aroused, Ms. Bell spent so much time reading ancient tomes that an editor wrote “Forget your college education and write in English,” on an early rejection slip. Quite a compliment considering that she was a High School drop out with a night school diploma at the time. She changed that when, in 1973 she matriculated as a Freshman at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she became active in Pi Gamma Mu, National Social Science Honor Society. The youngest of her considerable contribution to the Baby Boom was 9 years old.
Peggy Ullman Bell wrote the first polished draft of PSAPPHA, a novel of Sappho during her senior year at the University of Tulsa, Class of ’77, where she was founding president of the Oklahoma Delta Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu. When asked why it took so long to get from first draft to publication, Ms. Bell smiled and said, “It takes a long time for an ancient culture to become a worthy tourist attraction.”
Published in Y2K, PSAPPHA sold out and is now out of print. Because of her love for the story, Ms. Bell revised, expanded and augmented the manuscript for re-release under a new title. Although Ms. Bell’s concept of Sappho was subjected to over 40 years worth of re-writes and a myriad of editors and critics, she remained true to her original vision. SAPPHO SINGS is the “author preferred” edition.
Though originally from scant miles north of the Mason/Dixon Line and educated as a child in Gettysburg, Bell spent a quarter century on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, mere blocks from Beauvoir – The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library. Currently, she resides in Central Ohio. “But, I live in cyberspace,” she explains in sultry southern tones.