Julia Older
Julia Older

Peterborough, NH — Writer Julia Older died at age 79 on April 17, 2021, in Peterborough, NH. Born May 25, 1941, in Chicago, IL., she and writer Steve Sherman settled in Hancock, NH, in 1972, where she lived until the end of her life. She is survived by Steve Sherman, sisters Priscilla Older and Deborah Hall, nieces and nephews, and many dear friends.

You can get some sense of Julia's life from lists of books she published, and fellowships, awards, and honors she received for her writing over many years. Julia was pleased by formal recognition and grateful for assistance (she loved her residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell for the peace and freedom they offered), but she always went her own way, pursued only subjects that engaged her imagination, and developed talents in many areas besides writing. From childhood she adored dance, and in her 70s she seriously took up ballet again. A fine flutist, for years she soloed and played in various ensembles, for pleasure and for income. As a young single woman she roamed other countries—hitchhiking through France, writing in a seaside town in Italy, studying and teaching in Mexico, playing the flute in Brazil. After moving to New Hampshire, she came to know and love her own region — Grand Monadnock; the Isles of Shoals; the woods, lakes, coast, and byways of New Hampshire. She made friends with the birds outside her window and knew native plants. Many of her writings reflect her devotion to the place where she lived. Still, by nature and education she was a cosmopolitan, and in her imagination she continued to roam widely, producing a poem and radio drama about a mysterious ancient artifact, a sequence of poems about an early Persian feminist, two well-regarded translations of avant-garde French writer Boris Vian's stories, and translations of Italian Salvatore Quasimodo's poems. The last she was working on when she died. You can find Julia's publications in local libraries and at Toadstool Bookshops.

From the time they met at MacDowell Colony and through-hiked the Appalachian Trail for their honeymoon, Steve Sherman was at Julia's side, collaborating with her, cheering her on, caring for her when she was ill, and responding to her work. Friends and family will always remember what fun it was to be with them—enjoying their fabulous meals, laughing and talking, lifted by Julia's gaiety, capacity for life, generosity, and perhaps by seeing her launch into a pirouette or two just for the joy of it.
Published by Monadnock Ledger-Transcript on May 27, 2021.
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4 Entries
I met Julia (and Steve) briefly in a coin laundry in Connecticut in 1973 as we were both thru-hiking the Appalachian Trial (she headed north, me walking south). I was in her presence for no more than thirty minutes or so. It says the world that fifty years later I still remember her smile and her grace and the obvious joy that she and Steve were sharing in their walk. A couple surrounded by light.
David Hiscoe
July 7, 2021
I am filled with sorrow at learning of Julia's passing. Julia and I were old friends. We met about 1975 when we both played in the Nashua Symphony, she on the flute, then viola, I think, and I on the violin. When I found out she lived in Hancock, we had another connection, because my family owned a cabin there. We got together from time to time over the years and shared holiday greetings and life updates. I have read several of her books. She was passionate about writing, researched her subjects deeply and always inspired me with her creative mind and intellectual curiosity. She was truly a beautiful soul. I was looking forward to seeing her again this summer, and I will miss her dearly.
Joan Hamblet
June 10, 2021
I'm sorry we heard about this so late (blame it on the covid!). Julia was such a beautiful person. My heart goes out to Steve.
Linda Tiernan Kepner
May 31, 2021
I use to work at Phelps Photo in Hillsborough NH. Julia and Steve were regular customers. Back before the digital age of photography. Always very kind people. Enjoyed talking with them about there unique way of life. Many years have passed since I have seen either one of them. Sorry to here of her passing. A beautiful soul indeed.
Jody Feather
May 29, 2021
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