A Life Interrupted by Ruth Levy Guyer


The story is hard to believe: a young woman contracts a mysterious illness, lapses into a coma, stays “asleep” for seventeen years, then suddenly regains full consciousness and goes on to live almost 100 years as a charismatic academic with a rich personal life.

Hard to believe, yes, but true.

Marjorie Cornelia Day, known as Daysey, dazzled everyone who met her, beginning when she was just a little girl in rural Pennsylvania, then at Wellesley College, and later at Oxford University, where she inexplicably fell ill. She even intrigued staff members at the hospitals where she was, for so many years, an unresponsive patient.

After Daysey emerged from her zombie-like state, a serendipitous encounter brought about her return to her chosen profession––teaching. From then on, she spent her winters as a brilliant academic, teaching the daughters of the wealthy and powerful in New England and Washington, D.C., and her summers cooking bacon and eggs on the rocks, leading hikes into the woods and along cliffs, and teaching tennis and poetry at a seaside retreat for Massachusetts industrial mill and sweatshop workers.

Daysey’s life was unique, and her illness was long an enigma, but not any more.

This is her story. And every word of it is true.