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.
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.
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
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
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
Published in Y2K, PSAPPHA sold out and is
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, resided for a quarter of a century on
the Mississippi Gulf Coast. "But,
I live in cyberspace," she explains in sultry southern tones.
Women at Gettysburg
Click cover to buy
Seventeen-year-old Megan Loren
feels unloved, unwelcome and unwanted except by
the one person who should not want her. She plans
to one day leave the farm that does not feel
like home and the elder sister who seems to see her
only as a responsibility. Then,
the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the
American Civil War, comes to Loren
and Megan learns that home is portable, and that responsibility and love are interchangeable. [more]
"Psappha, as she called herself in her soft Aeolian dialect, was born at
Eresus, on Lesbos, ...Pittacus, fearing her maturing pen, banished her...
"After five years of exile she returned to Lesbos and became a leader of the island's society and
intellect ... Eager for an active life, she opened a school for young women, to whom she taught
poetry, music, and dancing; it was the first 'finishing school' in history....
"Her verse was collected into nine books, of some twelve-hundred lines, six-hundred survive,
From these fragmented lines, Ms. Bell has created a novel rich in the textures of ancient Greece, yet modern as tomorrow's fashions.
Bell has incorporated the fragmentary words and phrases still available into the novel in a way that makes them vanish into the fabric of the story like golden threads woven into an intricate tapestry so delicately that it becomes impossible to distinguish the imported threads from the weaver's own.
Readers familiar with the myriad of translations may recognize a word
here or a phrase there but, as one expert in antiquities discovered, the author has herself become the voice of The Poetess to the extent that invented passages seem like newly discovered wonders from the past.