The Poison Tree

A Memoir

Growing up in his father’s looming shadow, Henry I. Schvey wondered if he was doomed to repeat the past, doomed to make the same mistakes his father made. Would he succumb to the drive for domination and transform his own world into one colored by fear, domestic violence, infidelity, and spousal abuse? Schvey grew up in New York as his father rose to the pinnacle of success in the Reagan era of dog-eat-dog global finance, eventually becoming Vice-President and Chairman of the Bond Funds Division at Merrill Lynch. But his father’s success was paid for with the currency of intimidation and he wore it with the braggadocio of a man with an outsized ego who didn’t care who he stepped on to get to the top—including his son.

The Poison Tree is a study of Schvey’s relationship with his father, an illumination of the secret life of a man who was powerful, highly respected, and greatly feared, and a journey—both sad and tragicomic—that ultimately leads to forgiveness.

Henry Schvey of St. Louis, MO

Henry Schvey was born in New York City, and attended Hunter College Elementary School and the Horace Mann School for Boys. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he received an MA in Western European Studies and a PhD in Comparative Literature at Indiana University. He worked in the Netherlands for fourteen years, during which time he taught at Leiden University and founded the Leiden English Speaking Theatre (LEST). He, his wife, and three children returned to the U.S. in 1987, where he became chair of the Performing Arts Department at Washington University in St. Louis. He stepped down as chair in 2007, but has continued to teach, direct, and write as Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature.

Marketing & Publicity
  • Social media
  • Website
  • Prominent Reviewers
  • Experienced speaker