I had the pleasure of talking with Elizabeth Spencer in February. She is a cousin of mine, her mother a Teoc McCain. In her memoir Landscapes of the Heart she has a chapter devoted to the McCains. In the chapter she has a short history of our clan, which in my research over they years I discovered was remarkably accurate. It is a romantic tell of Highland Scots who supported Mary Queen of Scots and migrated to Ireland after her fall from power, which is pretty much what happened. My current book project is Finding the McCains which is the story of why and how I located our distant McCain cousin back in Ireland.
Elizabeth Spencer is the daughter of Senator McCain’s paternal grandfather’s sister. Elizabeth Spencer is a talented and accomplished writer of novels and short stories; she could walk into a room with William Faulkner and Eudora Welty and take her place among them. As Eudora Welty herself put it:
"It has never been doubted that Elizabeth Spencer knows the small, Southern, backwoods hilltown down to the bone. This she transforms by the accuracy of her eye and ear, talent and a certain prankish gaiety of spirit into a vital and absorbing novel."
Perhaps the best known work of Elizabeth Spencer would be her 1960 short novel, The Light of the Piazza. It is a very poignant story set in Italy that was made into a feature film in 1962 staring Olivia de Havilland, George Hamilton, and Yvette Mimieux. Elizabeth is still writing at age 93, her latest work is Starting Over, a collection of short stories and highly recommended.