Marion Kingston Stocking


Marion Kingston Stocking of Lamoine died of cancer May 12, 2009, after a short illness and brief hospital stay. Although 86, she continued her work as an author and editor to the end of life. Born in Bethlehem, Pa., on June 4, 1922, the oldest daughter of William and Louisa (Schucholtz) Kingston, Marion grew up in Melrose, Mass.

Through a career of academic success, she never tired of emphasizing that she flunked math and Latin several times in high school. Marion attended Mount Holyoke College, graduating magna cum laude in 1943. She entered the graduate program in English literature at Duke University, where she shared the wartime campus with German prisoners of war, and developed anemia and a lifelong loathing of cockroaches. She received her Ph.D. in 1952. While at Duke she worked with the eminent Romantic period scholar Newman Ivey White, focusing on Claire Clairmont, a half-sister of Mary Shelley and lover of Lord Byron. Claire Clairmont lived into her 90s as a persistent journal-keeper and letter-writer. Marion spent 52 editing The Journals of Claire Clairmont (Harvard University Press, 1968) and The Clairmont Correspondence (2 vols., Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), and writing a number of scholarly papers. In 1946, Marion began her teaching career at the University of Maine in Orono where she met her lifelong friends, Burt Libby and Marnie Balch (later Marnie Libby) and began the adventures in the Maine Woods chronicled in her soon-to-be-published memoir To the Wilderness (University of Delaware Press, 2009 or 2010). Marion also taught at the University of Colorado (1950-1954) and Beloit College (1954-1984), where she shared an office with David Stocking before marrying him in 1955. At Beloit College she was the first director of the Underclass Common Course, an interdisciplinary program taught by faculty in all departments (1967-1970). Marion joined her husband on the editorial board of the Beloit Poetry Journal, a quarterly magazine of contemporary poetry now produced in Farmington and remained active until her death. She handled most of the business of the magazine for many years and until her final illness wrote reviews of contemporary poetry which were widely admired. In 1984, Dave and Marion retired to the Lamoine home where they had lived part time since 1970, bringing the Beloit Poetry Journal with them. After Dave’s death in the fall of that year, Marion learned to drive a car and began a new career, serving on the Maine Arts Commission as member (1984-1988) and then chair (1986-1988) of its Literature Panel and then as a Commissioner and chair of the Community Arts Committee (1993-1999). She was a champion of state and federal support for community arts, now an important feature of what has become known as Maine’s Creative Economy. She edited the Hancock County Cultural Directory for the Arts Commission (1997). As she put aside Arts Commission work and the day-to-day business of the Beloit Poetry Journal, Marion began to write a series of memoirs: “The Gathering” (on E.B. White), Down East (October, 2003);  “Claire, Kairos, and Great Companions,” Keats-Shelley Journal (2005); “A Boomer’s Journal,” The Passenger Pigeon (2005); I Got the Idear: My Love Affair with Maine Language, (the Northeast Folklore book for 2007); “From Bunker Hill to Baghdad: One Woman’s Wars,” (Projected publication, 2009, North Dakota Quarterly); and To the Wilderness. Her death interrupted work on another memoir, on her experiences with the American expatriate community in Europe after World War II. Marion was a licensed bird bander (1960-1992) for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in both Wisconsin and Maine, and was a staunch supporter of land conservation, particularly in the remote parts of Maine. She was part of the group that founded Quoddy Regional Land Trust in coastal Washington County. Her honors include: membership in Phi Beta Kappa (1943); a D.Litt from the University of Maine at Fort Kent; Keats-Shelley Society Distinguished Scholar (1996); International Byron Society Dangerfield Award (1997); Distinguished Achievement Award, University of Maine at Machias (1998); and Doctor of Humane Letters, Beloit College (2000).

Marion is survived by her sister, Barbara Foust and family of Pittston, on whom she relies to pass on her DNA; her stepson, Fred Stocking and wife, Anne, of Lamoine and their son, Andy, of Beloit, Wisconsin; the Beloit Poetry Journal; and many dear friends who relied on her strength, common sense, willingness to really listen, and knowledgeable appreciation of the work of others.  She was, as noted on a button she wore with a grin for many years, “subject to bouts of enthusiasm.”

Donations in her memory may be made to the Beloit Poetry Journal Foundation, P.O. Box 151, Farmington, ME 04938 or Quoddy Regional Land Trust, P.O. Box 49, Whiting, ME 04691.

Know when to pay your respects.