“A war is on” and there was “no sale for poetry” were some excuses Alice Duer Miller was given when she tried to book published and was turned down by many publishers.
Miller’s book was a 70-page long form poem about an American woman falling in love with an Englishman right before World War I breaks out called “The White Cliffs.”
The poem follows Susan, who is “a traveler, the guest of a week” in England. The trip turns into a lifetime after she meets and falls in love with John. John is killed in World War I, but she continues to stay in England and raise their son in the traditional, upper class English life. As Susan sees another war on the horizon for England, she understands the inevitable future of her son; following in her husband’s footsteps.
While there was initial reluctance to publish, Miller’s later was made into a feature film and was performed on the radio several times by English actress, Lynn Fontanne.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill also believed that the book played a role in encouraging the United States’ entry into World War II.