Alumni Spotlight on Madeline (Emmy) Miller ’96: Rewriting Homer's Iliad
It has to be said: it was a bold move to rewrite Homer’s Iliad—one of literature’s most famous ancient works—as a modern novel. But it has paid off for Shipley alumna and former teacher, Madeline (Emmy) Miller ’96. Published in the UK in September 2011 and released in the U.S. in March 2012, The Song of Achilles has garnered exceptional reviews from critics and authors alike. Praised for its imaginative depth and quality of writing, the novel is at once an original rendering of the Trojan War, a devastating love story, a tale of gods and kings.
“I’ve loved ancient Greece since I was five and my mother began reading me the Greek myths,” says Miller. Years later at Shipley’s Upper School, she encountered the Iliad for the first time in the original Greek with classics teacher, David Rich, reading deeply and blossoming into a potent scholar: “It was the most exciting thing!” says Miller. After earning a BA and MA in Latin and Ancient Greek from Brown University, Emmy returned to Shipley to a “dream job” teaching Latin and ancient history; she also founded the Shakespeare theater program: “It was the perfect fit for me.” After seven years, Miller went back to her studies and her writing, perfecting the manuscript—ten years in the making—that would become her first published novel.
So what is it like to suddenly have a published novel and be receiving praise from authors you admire and respect? “It has been thrilling … such an honor,” says Miller, “…(the book) was a labor of love.“ Having carved out a special niche in the historical fiction genre, Miller is looking at possibilities in Homer’s Odyssey for her next book. And after that? “Maybe Shakespeare.” Her other love.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.