elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
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Barbara Deming, Mary Meigs & Jane Verlaine

Barbara Deming (July 23, 1917 – August 2, 1984) was an American feminist and advocate of nonviolent social change.

Barbara Deming was born in New York City. She attended a Friends (Quaker) school up through her high school years.

Deming directed plays, taught dramatic literature and wrote and published fiction and non-fiction works. On a trip to India, she began reading Gandhi, and became committed to a non-violent struggle, with her main cause being Women's Rights. She later became a journalist, and was active in many demonstrations and marches over issues of peace and civil rights. She was a member of a group that went to Hanoi during the Vietnam War, and was jailed many times for non-violent protest.

At sixteen, she had fallen in love with a woman her mother's age, and thereafter she was openly lesbian. She was the romantic partner of writer and artist Mary Meigs from 1954 to 1972. Their relationship eventually floundered, partially due to Meigs's timid attitude, and Deming's unrelenting political activism.

During the time that they were together, Meigs and Deming moved to Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where she befriended the writer and critic Edmund Wilson and his circle of friends. Among them was the Québécois author Marie-Claire Blais, with whom Meigs became romantically involved. Meigs, Blais, and Deming lived together for six years.


Barbara Deming was an American feminist and advocate of nonviolent social change. She was the romantic partner of writer and artist Mary Meigs from 1954 to 1972. During the time that they were together, Meigs and Deming moved to Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where she befriended the writer and critic Edmund Wilson and his circle of friends. Among them was the Québécois author Marie-Claire Blais, with whom Meigs became romantically involved. Meigs, Blais, and Deming lived together for six years.


In 1976, Deming moved to Florida with her partner, artist Jane Verlaine. Verlaine painted, did figure drawings and illustrated several books written by Deming. Verlaine was a tireless advocate for abused women. Deming died in 1984. In 1975, Deming founded the The Money for Women Fund to support the work of feminist artists. Deming helped administer the Fund, with support from artist Mary Meigs. After Deming's death in 1984, the organization was renamed as The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.

In 1976, Deming moved to Florida with her partner, artist Jane Verlaine. Verlaine painted, did figure drawings and illustrated several books written by Deming. Verlaine was a tireless advocate for abused women. Deming died on August 2, 1984.

Deming openly believed that it was often those whom we loved that oppressed us, and that it was necessary to re-invent non-violent struggle every day.

It is often said that she created a body of non-violent theory, based on action and personal experience, that centered on the potential of non-violent struggle in its application to the women's movement.

In 1968, Deming signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.

In 1975, Deming founded the The Money for Women Fund to support the work of feminist artists. Deming helped administer the Fund, with support from artist Mary Meigs. After Deming's death in 1984, the organization was renamed as The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. Today, the foundation is "oldest ongoing feminist granting agency" which "gives encouragement and grants to individual feminists in the arts (writers, and visual artists)"

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Deming

Marie-Claire Blais, CC OQ (born 5 October 1939) is a Canadian author and playwright.

Born in Quebec City, Quebec, she was educated at a convent school and at Université Laval. It was at Laval that she met Jeanne Lapointe and Father Georges Lévesque, who encouraged her to write and, in 1959, to publish her first novel, La Belle Bête (trans. Mad Shadows) in 1959 when she turned 20. She has since written over 20 novels, several plays, collections of poetry and fiction, as well newspaper articles. Her works have been translated into numerous languages, including English and Chinese. With the support of the eminent American critic Edmund Wilson, Blais won two Guggenheim Fellowships.

In 1963, Blais moved to the United States, initially living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, in 1964, she met her partner, American artist Mary Meigs. Marie-Claire Blais was working on her second and third novels, Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel and Les manuscrits de Pauline Archange. (Her first, La belle bête, rocked Quebec in 1959; Ms. Blais figures prominently in Mr. Wilson's 1965 book On Canada: An American's Notes on Canadian Culture.) Ms. Meigs began a tempestuous affair with Ms. Blais, and moved to Montreal in the mid-1970s; she and Ms. Blais lived with each other on and off over the next 15 or so years. Fluent in French, a respected painter -- she illustrated several of Ms. Blais's works, including Emmanuel and Pauline Archange -- and as Ms. Blais's long-time companion, she moved easily in both French and English artistic communities.

Marie-Claire Blais later relocated to Wellfleet on Cape Cod. In 1975, after two years living in Brittany, she moved back to Quebec with her partner. For about twenty years she divided her time between Montreal, the Eastern Townships of Quebec and Key West, Florida.

Much of Blais' writing has been in the form of social commentary, with intermixed elements of good and evil in settings part real, and part fantasy. Her works lean toward the tragic, within a hostile society of vice and violence. The strength of Blais' writing ability is rewarding to the reader in spite of the darker aspects of her themes.

In 1972 she became a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Her works La Belle Bête (1959), Une Saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel (1965) and Le Sourd dans la ville (1979), have been adapted for the cinema.

Canadian film director Karim Hussain adapted La Belle Bête in 2006. He won the Director's Award at the Boston Underground Film Festival's for the film.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Claire_Blais

Mary Meigs (April 27, 1917-November 15, 2002) was an American-born painter and writer.

Meigs was born in Philadelphia and raised in Washington, DC. She studied at Bryn Mawr College, and subsequently taught English literature and creative writing at that school. She served in the United States Navy's WAVES corps during World War II.

She subsequently studied art in New York City, and had her first exhibition of paintings in 1950.

Openly lesbian, Meigs met author Barbara Deming in 1954. Deming and Meigs became a couple and moved to Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where they joined a Cape Cod artistic circle that included abstract painter Mark Rothko, critic Edmund Wilson, and writer Mary McCarthy.

In 1963, Wilson introduced Meigs to Marie-Claire Blais, a writer from Quebec who became romantically involved with Meigs and Deming, and moved to Brittany with Meigs in 1972. The couple subsequently returned to Montreal, where Meigs spent the remainder of her life, in 1976.

Also in the 1970s, Meigs returned to writing, publishing books such as Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait (1981), The Medusa Head (1983) and The Box Closet (1987). In addition to her writing, she became a prominent spokesperson in Canada for lesbian, feminist and seniors' issues. She died in Montreal in 2002, following a series of strokes.


Mary Meigs, 1992, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123973)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)






 McCarthy's 1955 novel A Charmed Life depicts Meigs as "Dolly Lamb", a tiresome artist whose paintings were "cramped with preciosity and mannerism".

In 1990, Meigs appeared in the Canadian docudrama film The Company of Strangers. She published a book about her experiences making the film, In the Company of Strangers, in 1991.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Meigs

Further Readings:

A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds by Martin Duberman
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: New Press, The (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595583238
ISBN-13: 978-1595583239
Amazon: A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds
Amazon Kindle: A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds

By the time their paths first crossed in the 1960s, Barbara Deming and David
McReynolds had each charted a unique course through the political and social worlds of the American left. Deming, a feminist, journalist, and political activist with an abiding belief in nonviolence, had been an out lesbian since the age of sixteen. The first openly gay man to run for president of the United States, on the Socialist Party ticket, McReynolds was also a longtime opponent of the Vietnam War—he was among the first activists to publicly burn a draft card after this became a felony—and friend to leading activists and artists from Bayard Rustin to Quentin Crisp.

In this remarkable dual biography, the prize-winning historian Martin Duberman
reveals a vital historical milieu of activism, radical ideas, and coming to terms with homosexuality when the gay rights movement was still in its nascent stages. With a cast of characters that includes intellectuals, artists, and activists from the critic Edmund White and the writer Mary McCarthy to the young Alvin Ailey and Allen Ginsberg, A Saving Remnant is a brilliant achievement from one of our most important historians

Mad Shadows (New Canadian Library) by Marie-Claire Blais
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: New Canadian Library (August 12, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0771093527
ISBN-13: 978-0771093524
Amazon: Mad Shadows

A harrowing pathology of the soul, Mad Shadows centres on a family group: Patrice, the beautiful and narcissistic son; his ugly and malicious sister, Isabelle-Marie; and Louise, their vain and uncomprehending mother. These characters inhabit an amoral universe where beauty reflects no truth and love is an empty delusion. Each character is ultimately annihilated by their own obsessions.

Acclaimed and reviled when it exploded on the Quebec literary scene in 1959, Mad Shadows initiated a new era in Quebec fiction.

Mai at the Predators' Ball by Marie-Claire Blais
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: House of Anansi Press (June 26, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 177089005X
ISBN-13: 978-1770890053
Amazon: Mai at the Predators' Ball

In Mai at the Predators' Ball, Marie-Claire Blais, literary legend and four-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, offers a mesmerizing and unforgettable portrait of imaginary beings who seem to embrace the whole of humanity.

Every night in the Saloon, after darkness falls, a group of boys are transformed into creatures we see only in dreams. They adorn themselves in colourful dresses and wigs and they take to the stage to sing and dance. They open their arms to those who are excluded — both men and women, triumphant and threatened, both free and bound — and every evening is a carnival of freedom and transgression.

With this masterful novel, Blais invites us to share the drama of perfect joy, the tragedy of happiness, and she gives us her best work yet.

A Season in the Life of Emmanuel (Exile Classics series) by Marie-Claire Blais
Paperback: 164 pages
Publisher: Exile Editions (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1550961187
ISBN-13: 978-1550961188
Amazon: A Season in the Life of Emmanuel

Following the life of newborn infant, Emmanuel, this great contemporary novel of Quebec exposes a painful history central to the new consciousness that emerged in the 1960s known as “the quiet revolution.” The story of Emmanuel and his 15 brothers and sisters spotlights the grinding poverty under the mental regime of the Catholic Church at its least enlightened and most inescapable. This insightful narrative documents the hardships and cruelties of their social condition with dark humor and passionate imagination as they endeavor to survive harsh schools, dreary convents, and hunger.

Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait by Mary Meigs
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Talonbooks (February 15, 1981)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0889221952
ISBN-13: 978-0889221956
Amazon: Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait

Taking as her alter-ego Lily Briscoe—the painter in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse—Mary Meigs paints a portrait of herself, her family and her friends in Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait, a book that is both autobiography and memoir. In it, she describes the three major decisions of her life: “not to marry, to be an artist” and to listen to her “own voices.” She speaks of her parents who belonged to “a generation before their own” and how they instilled in her a sense of guilt, locking her in the prison of her self, a prison constructed “with the material of doubt and failure; of shattered dreams and unhappy loves, jealousy, hate, envy and the deadly sins of lovelessness and indifference,” but she also tells how she escapes from this prison with the knowledge that her inner sun takes its energy “from love, from creativity.”
Lily Briscoe: A Self-Portrait is a book about the exercise of the will, the art of dreaming and the transcendent power of friendship. It is a very wise book written by a woman who waited—and lived—some sixty years before beginning to write.

A Charmed Life by Mary McCarthy
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (May 15, 1992)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0156167743
ISBN-13: 978-0156167741
Amazon: A Charmed Life

Martha Sinnott returns with her second husband to the New England artists' colony she left behind seven years earlier when she divorced her first husband. The townfolk have remained much the same, including Martha's former husband, who has relocated nearby. Martha is in touch with her former friends, who are in touch with her former husband, so Martha should be able to see him as well, shouldn't she?.

More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance


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Tags: activist: barbara deming, art, author: marie-claire blais, days of love tb, particular voices
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