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Q: Background info on "The White Cliffs", a 1940 narrative poem ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Background info on "The White Cliffs", a 1940 narrative poem
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: brad23ny-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 23 Dec 2003 16:22 PST
Expires: 22 Jan 2004 16:22 PST
Question ID: 289860
I am looking for some background information and color on "The White Cliffs", a
narrative poem by Alice Duer Miller published in 1940.  I loved it
when I read it years ago, and have just bought a copy to give as a
gift.  I believe it had many many printings - it would be nice to know
how many over what period of time, or how many copies were sold, or
something similar.  What sort of reception did it get from the public?
assuming it was well received because there were so many printings,
and it was later made into a movie.  I would like to find reviews or
contemporary commentary, or possibly later references in reference
books to this book and to Alice Duer Miller.  Was she a public figure?
 What else did she write, etc.  I don't mean to specify any particular
thing as an "acceptable" answer; I'm just looking for a few
interesting facts or references or articles about the poem or the
author or the public reaction which would make this a more interesting

Thank you.
Subject: Re: Background info on "The White Cliffs", a 1940 narrative poem
Answered By: journalist-ga on 23 Dec 2003 17:42 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Greetings Brad23ny:

Here is some information about her that I hope will be pleasing to you.

"It was in the Second World War that the white cliffs reached their
highest emotional pitch, and again, distance flattered their effect.
In 1940 an anglophile American, Alice Duer Miller, wrote a long
sentimental poem called 'The White Cliffs' as part of a concerted
campaign to get America into the war. It ran to eleven editions,
formed the basis of a film, and encouraged other images: Churchill
standing on the cliffs looking over 'Hellfire Corner', a Lancaster
limping home, a cartoon showing Hitler furiously hurling his planes
against the implacable white walls. Ironically, the cliffs are made
into a rallying cry by Vera Lynn just at the moment air power renders
them militarily redundant. Blitzkrieg placed most English cities on
the front line."

I also located a "scenario" at but
could not confirm if any of it was true.


Her screenwriting credits:
Forever and a Day (1943)  
Irene (1940)  
On Borrowed Time (1939)  
Wife Vs. Secretary (1936)  
Rose Marie (1936)  


"Alice Duer Miller was a graduate of Barnard College. While a student
there she was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma women's fraternity and
Phi Beta Kappa. She later became an accomplished writer and trustee at

"Alice Duer Miller was a member of Heterodoxy, best known now for her
extended prose poem "The White Cliffs,"(1940), _Are Women People?
!Women Are People!_(exclamation marks at both ends of title on cover),
"Manslaughter," "Gowns by Roberta" (made into a 1930s wonderfully
silly Fred Astaire movie with Heterodoxy member-- and Theatre Guild
co- founder--Helen Westley as dress designer Roberta, with a great
death scene.)"

From various postings at


"Howe, a Unitarian minister, later founded Heterodoxy, a group of
women intellectuals and radicals in New York City?s Greenwich Village"


"Suffrage in Print: Alice Duer Miller?s Satiric Journalism"


"Are Women People?" [text from the book]
"A book of rhymes for suffrage times by Alice Duer Miller"

A partial index with links is located at


"If it's very painful to you to criticize your friends - you're safe
in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it - that's the
time to hold your tongue. -- Alice Duer Miller"


"We should have women teachers with fuller lives and richer
experience, not so many dried-up old maids," he opined. Gildersleeve
recorded this remark in her memoir without comment, her victory
evidently having trumped the implicit insult from her boss and old
friend. With the help of Barnard Trustees and staunch feminists Helen
Rogers Reid '03BAR '49HON and Alice Duer Miller '99BAR, Gildersleeve
persuaded the Barnard Board of Trustees to enact a maternity policy
that provided one term off at full pay or a year off at half pay for
all new faculty mothers."
From "Virginia Gildersleeve: Opening the Gates" by Rosalind Rosenberg


"The National College Equal Suffrage League held business sessions
Saturday forenoon and afternoon with its president, Dr. M. Carey
Thomas of Bryn Mawr presiding, and a luncheon was given for its
delegates. Miss Caroline Lexow made the annual report. At the evening
meeting of the convention Mrs. Alice Duer Miller (N. Y.), representing
the Equal Franchise Society, of which Mrs. Clarence Mackay was
president, spoke on The Sisterhood of Women, saying in part: "We have
plenty of work to do but it is not that, it is not the organization,
the growth of membership and the spread of theories that make me
confident of success. It is the extraordinary spirit that animates the
women who are working for suffrage, the sense of comradeship and
community among them, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, old and
young, mothers and daughters."
From "Chapter X: The National American Convention of 1910". In History
of Woman Suffrage, vol. 5: 1900-1920 (National American Woman Suffrage
Association, New York, NY, 1922)


I didn't find any book sales information regarding editions.  Should
you require any clarification of the links or information I have
provided, please request it and I will be happy to respond.

Best regards,


"Alice Duer Miller" "white cliffs" history
"Alice Duer Miller" "white cliffs" war
"Alice Duer Miller" "white cliffs" plea
"Alice Duer Miller" biography "white cliffs"
"Alice Duer Miller"
"Alice Duer Miller" propaganda
"Alice Duer Miller" quotes
"Alice Duer Miller" quotations
"Alice Duer Miller" suffragette
"Alice Duer Miller" "white cliffs" sales
"Alice Duer Miller" "white cliffs" editions
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