Born in Langland, Glamorgan, Wales on 7 March 1922, the son of Captain John Algernon de Courcy Lyons, M.C. and Doris Ada Campbell Young. In his lifetime, he was normally just called Islay (pronounced eye-la). (Source unspecified: Lyons was educated at Bradfield College, Berkshire and Grenoble University. He was at Grenoble when World War II broke out. He made a daring escape over the Pyrenees, was caught and imprisoned in Spain from where he manage to escape and work his way back to England where he joined up and served in the Royal Air Force for the rest of the war. He served first in North Africa and then he was sent to the Far East to learn Japanese in 3 months. He did this with amongst others, Richard Mason, who was a lifelong friend and cousin by marriage. Lyons is portrayed by the character 'Peter' in Mason's book 'The Wind Cannot Read'.)
The photographs of Lyons illustrate the works of several twentieth century literary figures, including Bryher and Graham Greene.
Lyons had been the last lover of the film-maker, Kenneth Macpherson, both of them living in the ‘Villa Tuoro’ on Capri. Norman Douglas was their constant companion, there, during the last years of Douglas’s life. Both Macpherson and Lyons were at Norman Douglas’s bedside when he died.
Lyons was a close friend of photographer, Canadian, Roloff Beny.
Kenneth Macpherson, photo by Islay Lyons
Islay Lyons was a notable Welsh photographer, novelist and linguist. During the WWII, he served in North Africa and then he was sent to the Far East to learn Japanese in 3 months. He did this with amongst others, Richard Mason, who was a lifelong friend and cousin by marriage. Lyons is portrayed by the character 'Peter' in Mason's book 'The Wind Cannot Read'. Lyons had been the last lover of the film-maker, Kenneth Macpherson, both of them living in the ‘Villa Tuoro’ on Capri.
Norman Douglas, the old roué, photo by Islay Lyons
George Norman Douglas was a British writer, now best known for his 1917 novel South Wind. Kenneth Macpherson bought a home on Capri, "Villa Tuoro", which he shared with his lover, the photographer, Algernon Islay de Courcy Lyons. Bryher, Macpherson’s wife, supported her husband and his friend on Capri, requesting that they take into their home the aging Douglas. Douglas had been friends of Bryher and Macpherson since 1931. Macpherson remained on Capri until Douglas's death in 1952.
Smiling man in bed
Boy with slingshot, Capri
Bryher (Winifred Ellerman), photo by Islay Lyons
Bryher And Kenneth Macpherson
Capri street scene with Kenneth Macpherson
Dottoressa Moor And Catherine Walston
Kenneth Macpherson in drag
Man and dog profiles (Sandy)
Man in Profile
Norman Douglas And Graham Greene
Norman Douglas, Roberto Rossellini And Ingrid Bergman
Norman Holmes Pearson
Portrait of a young man smoking a pipe
Seated man with cigarette
Swimming pool at the Foro Italico, Rome
Young man in tunic
Young man rowing
Lyons died on 17 November 1993, in Chiang-Mai, Thailand.
Part of Lyons’s inheritance to his adopted Thai son, Manop Charoensuk, was a large quantity of photos, books, and letters relating to the life of Baron Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen, the novelist and poet, on the island of Capri. It is believed that Fersen bequeathed the inheritance to Norman Douglas, the Scottish writer, who, in turn, had bequeathed it to Kenneth Macpherson. On Macpherson’s death, Lyons inherited the estate. Charoensuk sold it to an American millionaire. In 2002, the complete collection was offered by Sotheby’s in London to the American antiquarian David Deiss, but it was eventually bought by an unknown British dealer. It is probable, although unconfirmed, that most, if not all, of this inheritance, is what the Beinecke acquired in 2008 and now forms part of the 'Norman Douglas Collection (2008 Addition)'.
Some of De Courcy Lyons’s work is held in various collections in the United States, notably the Catherine Walston/Graham Greene Papers at Georgetown Library, the Nancy Cunard Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center and the Norman Douglas Collection (2008 Addition) at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algernon_Islay_de_Courcy_Lyons & http://padraigrooney.com/blog/?p=330
Kenneth Macpherson was born in Scotland, 27 March 1902, the son of Scottish painter, John 'Pop' Macpherson and Clara Macpherson. Descended from 6 generations of artists, Macpherson was a novelist, photographer, critic and film-maker. It is only in recent years that Macpherson's contribution to cinematography has come to be recognised with the re-discovery of his work, which, though limited in output, was far ahead of its time, both in subject matter and cinematic technique. His 1930 film, Borderline, is now vey much part of the curriculum in the study of modern cinematography today. In his work with the Pool Group (1927–1933), which he co-founded with Bryher and HD, Macpherson also established the influential film journal, Close Up.
Little is known of Macpherson's early life, the pre-Pool Group period, although much is made of his post-Pool Group years, which appear to have been colourful. One commentator goes as far as to disingenuously identify, for interested parties, the source of 'a lurid description of his personal life during his New York years'. Macpherson's story began in 1927, when he married English writer, Annie Winifred Ellerman, (known as Bryher in the literary world), the daughter of a British shipping magnate. Bryher's inherited fortune would help to finance Macpherson's projects. Although Bryher's and Macpherson's marriage lasted for twenty years, for much of the marriage, both Macpherson and Bryher had extra-marital affairs. Bryher was lesbian but Macpherson was distinctly bi-sexual.
A sexual partner, common to both Bryher and Macpherson, was the American poet, Hilda Doolittle (known in literary circles as "HD"). Doolittle had been a close friend of Bryher's since 1921. They had a lesbian relationship, spending a lot of time together in Riant Chateau, Territet, Switzerland, where Bryher had a house. Not long after their marriage, Macpherson and Bryher moved to Territet, later joined by Doolittle, who brought along her 9 year old daughter, Perdita. (Perdita's father was Cecil Gray, the Scottish music critic and composer). In 1928, Doolittle had a sexual relationship with Macpherson, becoming pregnant by him. The pregnancy would be aborted later that year. In the same year, Macpherson and Bryher formally adopted Perdita, registering her name as Frances Perdita Macpherson.
Kenneth Macpherson and H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) nursing tiger cubs, Territet, Switzerland, 1928
Bryher was the pen name of the novelist, poet, memoirist, and magazine editor Annie Winifred Ellerman. In 1927 she married Kenneth Macpherson, a writer who shared her interest in film and who was at the same time H.D.'s lover (H.D. was Bryher’s lover as well). In Burier, Switzerland, overlooking Lake Geneva, the couple built a Bauhaus-style style structure that doubled as a home and film studio, which they named Kenwin. They formally adopted H.D.'s young daughter, Perdita.
Villa Kenwin on Lake Geneva
In September, 1931, Macpherson and Bryher moved to a new home at Burier-La-Tour, which they had commissioned Hans Henselmann to build. The home, which overlooked Lake Geneva, came to be known as Kenwin, derived from the names, Kenneth and Winifred, and would double as a film studio and home, not only for themselves, but also for an assortment of dogs, cats, and monkeys. Bryher gave her address, at the time, as Villa Kenwin, Chemin de Vallon, 1814 Burier-La-Tour, Vaud, Switzerland. (During the war years, Bryher would use Kenwin as a staging post for the evacuation of refugees from Nazi Germany.)
It was the late 1920s, and race, sex and mental illness were decidedly taboo subjects for cinema audiences; cinematography was just a tool for the use of Hollywood moguls in the production of lucrative films for mass entertainment. The stage was being set, though, for a challenge on this 'phoney' world with new thinking individuals springing up to present alternative ideas. Film-makers were being influenced by the philosophy of the Frankfurt School, the theories on human behaviour of Sigmund Freud in Vienna and the innovation of Soviet and German 'montage cinema'. Macpherson would identify with this new thinking and hope to contribute. In 1927, together with Bryher and Doolittle, Macpherson co-founded the Pool Group. Realising that their ambitions would be stifled by British censorship and the social prejudices of the time, the group re-located to Switzerland. There, they could fully consider sensitive taboo issues and investigate the means of successfully transferring these thoughts onto celluloid. It was during this period in Switzerland that Macpherson would produce his main work, the film, Borderline. At the time, however, the film received a lukewarm reception from the critics, and Macpherson would archive the film in a 'bottom drawer', where it would lie dormant for the next 53 years.
It was in 1927, from their base in Territet, that Macpherson, Bryher and Doolittle launched themselves as the Pool Group. Pool would veer away from the West's commercial model of film production, and produce material which would promote cinematography as an 'art form'. Their model would be based on the work coming out of Germany, particularly G W Pabst, and coming out of Russia, particularly Sergei Eisenstein. Their subject matter would be human behaviour, and its many facets, and their task would be representing this behaviour on screen, influenced by the work of Freud.
Also at Territet, Macpherson founded the influential film journal, Close Up, dedicated to "independent cinema and cinema from around the world". The first issue of Close Up, describing itself on the front cover as an "international magazine devoted to film art", appeared in July, 1927. Macpherson was editor, with Bryher as assistant editor, and Doolittle making regular contributions. Macpherson, who was particularly influenced by the Russian film-maker Sergei Eisenstein and whom he first met in 1929, "dictated the tone and direction of the publication, contributing articles that defined the role of the director and defended the integrity of cinema and its right to be considered as art". Close Up published many of the first translations of Eisenstein's ideas. Macpherson continued as the main editor until the magazine's demise in 1933.
Macpherson's films can best be summarised as presenting contentious issues using avant-garde experimental film-making techniques to represent emotional and psychological states of the human mind. "Macpherson's brilliance lies in his ability to photograph small movements as nuanced, meaning-producing gestures". His work would go on to influence future film-makers such as Nathaniel Dorsky and Robert Beavers. In all, Macpherson made three short films, Wing Beat, Foothills and Monkeys' Moon, one main feature, Borderline and co-produced Hans Richter's Dreams That Money Can Buy.
His first short film, Wing Beat (1927) was an investigation into telepathy and featured himself and HD in acting roles. The film survives only in fragments. Macpherson described the film as 'A study in thought... a free verse poem'. His second short, Foothills (1928), footage of which was discovered in 1979, concerns a city-woman visiting the countryside, with 'added psychoanalytic ingredients'. Nine minutes and ten seconds of footage, in 16mm black and white, exist of his third short film, Monkeys' Moon (1929), which featured Macpherson's 2 pet douracouli monkeys. This film was thought to be lost until the Beinecke Library of Yale University acquired a copy in 2008, where it was fully restored and digitized.
Macpherson's sole feature, Borderline (1930), originally believed to have been lost, was re-discovered by chance in Switzerland in 1983. The silent film with English inter-titles, dissected race and gender relations and was centred on a love triangle, featuring Paul Robeson and HD. It attempted to delve into the mental states of its characters using the technique of 'montage', based on Eisenstein's film theories. The film confused and bewildered critics leading the London Evening Standard's Clive MacManus to advise Macpherson "to spend a year in a commercial studio" before attempting something as difficult again. Deeply upset by the film's hostile reception, Macpherson archived his film and withdrew from film directing. In 2006, the British Film Institute sponsored the restoration and eventual DVD release of Borderline, revitalizing interest in Macpherson's work.
After spending a few months in New York in 1935, Macpherson eventually based himself there to focus on writing, photography and his art collection. It was here that he met Peggy Guggenheim, a wealthy American art collector, who instantly fell in love with him. In 1944, in New York, he co-produced Hans Richter's avant-garde compendium, Dreams That Money Can Buy, the project being financed by Macpherson and Guggenheim.
In 1947, Macpherson returned from America, spending much of his time in Switzerland and Italy. He bought a home on Capri, "Villa Tuoro", which he shared with his lover, the photographer, Algernon Islay de Courcy Lyons (March 7, 1922 - November 17, 1993). Bryher supported her husband and his friend on Capri, requesting that they take into their home the aging Norman Douglas (December 8, 1868 – February 7, 1952), the Scottish novelist. Douglas had been friends of Bryher and Macpherson since 1931. Macpherson remained on Capri until Douglas's death in 1952, writing an epitaph for Douglas, from which the Latin inscription, on Douglas's gravestone, is derived (Omnes Eodem Cogimur). Macpherson then moved to Rome, where he published his third novel, 'Rome 12 Noon'. In 1965, he 'retired' to Tuscany to work on his new book about Douglas's Austrian doctor, the Viennese born, Dr. Elisabeth Moor. Moor was Capri's doctor from 1926 until the early 1970s and was one of the island's more colourful characters. The book would eventually be published in 1975 under the title, 'An Impossible Woman – Memories of Dottoressa Moor' with a preface, notes and epilogue by the English writer, Graham Greene.
At a time, Macpherson was also lover of nightclub singer Jimmie Daniels, and Macpherson's wife Bryher commissioned to Richmond Barthe Daniels's bust. Bryher heavily supported her husband, who in turn heavily supported Jimmie, thus affording him a high-class life in a Greenwich Village apartment for several years. In an impressive effort, they all conspired to help the black, gay and handsome Barthe, who was quite down on his luck at the time and needed the work and cash. (Picture: Jimmie Daniels)
Macpherson died in Cetona on 14 June 1971, leaving everything, including his inheritance from Douglas, to De Courcy Lyons.
H.D. (born Hilda Doolittle) (September 10, 1886 – September 27, 1961) was an American poet, novelist and memoirist known for her association with the early 20th century avant-garde Imagist group of poets such as Ezra Pound and Richard Aldington. The Imagist model was based on the idioms, rhythms and clarity of common speech, and freedom to choose subject matter as the writer saw fit. H.D.'s later writing developed on this aesthetic to incorporate a more female-centric version of modernism.
H.D. was born in Pennsylvania in 1886, and moved to London in 1911 where her publications earned her a central role within the then emerging Imagism movement. A charismatic figure, she was championed by the modernist poet Ezra Pound, who was instrumental in building and furthering her career. From 1916–17, she acted as the literary editor of the Egoist journal, while her poetry appeared in the English Review and the Transatlantic Review. During the First World War, H.D. suffered the death of her brother and the breakup of her marriage to the poet Richard Aldington, and these events weighed heavily on her later poetry. She had a deep interest in Ancient Greek literature, and her poetry often borrowed from Greek mythology and classical poets. Her work is noted for its incorporation of natural scenes and objects, which are often used to emote a particular feeling or mood. (Picture: H.D. (sitting) and Bryher in her later years, courtesy of Catherine Aldington Guillaume)
She befriended Sigmund Freud during the 1930s, and became his patient in order to understand and express her bisexuality. H.D. married once, and undertook a number of heterosexual and lesbian relationships. She was unapologetic about her sexuality, and thus became an icon for both the gay rights and feminist movements when her poems, plays, letters and essays were rediscovered during the 1970s and 1980s. This period saw a wave of feminist literature on the gendering of Modernism and psychoanalytical misogyny, by a generation of writers who saw her as an early icon of the feminist movement.
Bryher and H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) during the filming of Borderline (1930)
Close to the end of the war, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle 1886-1961) met the wealthy English novelist Bryher (Annie Winifred Ellerman 1894-1983). They lived together until 1946, and although both took numerous other partners, Bryher remained her lover for the rest of H.D.'s life. From 1920, her relationship with Bryher became closer and the pair travelled in Egypt, Greece and the United States before eventually settling in Switzerland. Bryher married H.D.'s new male lover, bisexual Kenneth Macpherson.
Hilda Doolittle was born into the Moravian community in Bethlehem in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. Her father, Charles Doolittle, was professor of astronomy at Lehigh University and her mother, Helen (Wolle), was a Moravian with a strong interest in music. In 1896, Charles Doolittle was appointed Flower Professor of Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, and the family moved to a house in Upper Darby, an affluent Philadelphia suburb. She attended Philadelphia's Friends Central High School, at Fifteenth and Race streets, graduating in 1905. In 1901, she met and befriended Ezra Pound, who was to play a major role both in her private life and her emergence as a writer. In 1905, Pound presented her with a sheaf of love poems under the collective title Hilda's Book. (Picture: Ezra Pound)
That year, Doolittle attended Bryn Mawr College to study Greek literature, but left after only three terms due to poor grades and the excuse of poor health. While at the college, she met the poets Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams. Her first published writings, some stories for children, were published in The Comrade. Philadelphia, Pa. : Presbyterian Church paper between 1909 and 1913, mostly under the name Edith Gray. In 1907, she became engaged to Pound. Her father disapproved of Pound, and by the time her father left for Europe in 1908, the engagement had been called off. Around this time, H.D. started a relationship with a young female art student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Frances Josepha Gregg. After spending part of 1910 living in Greenwich Village, she sailed to Europe with Gregg and Gregg's mother in 1911. In Europe, H.D. began a more serious career as a writer. Her relationship with Gregg cooled, and she met a writing enthusiast named Brigit Patmore with whom she became involved in an affair. Patmore introduced H.D. to another poet, Richard Aldington. (Picture: Frances Gregg)
Soon after arriving in England, H.D. showed Pound some poems she had written. Pound had already begun to meet with other poets at the Eiffel Tower restaurant in Soho. He was impressed by the closeness of H.D. poems's to the ideas and principles he had been discussing with Aldington, with whom he had shared plans to reform contemporary poetry through free verse, the tanka and the tightness and conciseness of the haiku, and the removal of all unnecessary verbiage.
During a meeting with H.D. in a tea room near the British Museum that year, Pound appended the signature H.D. Imagiste to her poetry, creating a label that was to stick to the poet for most of her writing life. However H.D. told different versions of this story at various times, and during her career published under a variety of pseudonyms. That same year, Harriet Monroe started her Poetry magazine and asked Pound to act as foreign editor. In October, he submitted three poems each by H.D. and Aldington under the rubric Imagiste. Aldington's poems were in the November issue of Poetry and her poems "Hermes of the Ways," "Orchard," and "Epigram", in the January 1913 issue. Imagism as a movement was launched with H.D. as its prime exponent. (Picture: Richard Aldington)
The early models for the Imagist group were from Japan, and H.D. often visited the exclusive Print Room at the British Museum in the company of Richard Aldington and the curator and poet Laurence Binyon in order to examine Nishiki-e prints that incorporated traditional Japanese verse. However, she also derived her way of making poems from her reading of Classical Greek literature and especially of Sappho, an interest she shared with Aldington and Pound, each of whom produced versions of the Greek poet's work. In 1915, H.D. and Aldington launched the Poets' Translation Series, pamphlets of translations from Greek and Latin classics. H.D. worked on the plays by Euripides, publishing in 1916 a translation of choruses from Iphigeneia at Aulis, in 1919 a translation of choruses from Iphigeneia at Aulis and Hippolytus, an adaptation of Hippolytus called Hippolytus Temporizes (1927), a translation of choruses from The Bacchae and Hecuba (1931), and Euripides' Ion (1937) a loose translation of Ion.
She continued her association with the group until the final issue of the Some Imagist Poets anthology in 1917. She and Aldington did most of the editorial work on the 1915 anthology. Her work also appeared in Aldington's Imagist Anthology 1930. All of her poetry up to the end of the 1930s was written in an Imagist mode, utilising spare use of language, and a classical, austere purity. This style of writing was not without its critics. In a special Imagist issue of The Egoist magazine in May 1915, the poet and critic Harold Monro called H.D.'s early work "petty poetry", denoting "either poverty of imagination or needlessly excessive restraint".
Before World War I, H.D. married Aldington in 1913; however, their first and only child, a daughter, was stillborn in 1915. Aldington enlisted in the army. The couple became estranged and Aldington reportedly took a mistress in 1917. H.D. became involved in a close but platonic relationship with D. H. Lawrence. In 1916, her first book, Sea Garden, was published and she was appointed assistant editor of The Egoist, replacing her husband. In 1918, her brother Gilbert was killed in action, and that March she moved into a cottage in Cornwall with the composer Cecil Gray, a friend of Lawrence's. She became pregnant with Gray's child, however, by the time she realised she was expecting, the relationship had cooled and Gray had returned to live in London. When Aldington returned from active service he was noticeably traumatised, and he and H.D. later separated. (Picture: D.H. Lawrence)
Close to the end of the war, H.D. met the wealthy English novelist Bryher (Annie Winifred Ellerman). They lived together until 1946, and although both took numerous other partners, Bryher remained her lover for the rest of H.D.'s life. In 1919, H.D. came close to death when she gave birth to her daughter Frances Perdita Aldington—although the father was not Aldington, but Gray—while suffering from war influenza. During this time, her father, who had never recovered from Gilbert's death, died. In 1919, H.D. wrote one of her few known statements on poetics, Notes on Thought and Vision, which was unpublished until City Lights printed it in 1982. In this, she speaks of poets (herself included) as belonging to a kind of elite group of visionaries with the power to 'turn the whole tide of human thought'.
H.D. and Aldington attempted to salvage their relationship during this time, but he was suffering from the effects of his participation in the war, possibly post-traumatic stress disorder, and they became estranged, living completely separate lives, but not divorcing until 1938. They remained friends, however, for the rest of their lives. From 1920, her relationship with Bryher became closer and the pair travelled in Egypt, Greece and the United States before eventually settling in Switzerland. Bryher entered a marriage of convenience in 1921 with Robert McAlmon, which allowed him to fund his publishing ventures in Paris by utilising some of her personal wealth for his Contact Press. Both Bryher and H.D. slept with McAlmon during this time. Bryher and McAlmon divorced in 1927. (Picture: Robert McAlmon)
In the early 1920s, H.D. started to write three projected cycles of novels. The first of these, Magna Graeca, consists of Palimpsest (1921) and Hedylus (1928). The Magna Graeca novels use their classical settings to explore the poetic vocation, particularly as it applies to women in a patriarchal literary culture. The Madrigal cycle consists of HERmione, Bid Me to Live, Paint It Today and Asphodel, and is largely autobiographical, dealing with the development of the female artist and the conflict between heterosexual and lesbian desire. Kora and Ka and The Usual Star, two novellas from the Borderline cycle, were published in 1933. In this period, she also wrote Pilate's Wife, Mira-Mare, and Nights.
During this period her mother had died and Bryher had divorced her husband, only to marry H.D.'s new male lover, Kenneth Macpherson. H.D., Bryher, and Macpherson lived together and traveled through Europe as what the poet and critic Barbara Guest termed in her biography of H.D. as a 'menagerie of three'. Bryher and Macpherson adopted H.D.'s daughter, Perdita. In 1928, H.D. became pregnant but chose to abort the pregnancy in November. Bryher and Macpherson set up the magazine Close Up (to which H.D. regularly contributed) as a medium for intellectual discussion of cinema. In 1927, the small independent film cinema group POOL or Pool Group was established (largely funded with Bryher's inheritance) and was managed by all three. Only one POOL film survives in its entirety, Borderline (1930), which featured H.D. and Paul Robeson in the lead roles. In common with the Borderline novellas, the film explores extreme psychic states and their relationship to surface reality. As well as acting in this film, H.D. wrote an explanatory pamphlet to accompany it, a piece later published in Close Up.
In 1933, H.D. traveled to Vienna to undergo analysis with Sigmund Freud. She had an interest in Freud's theories as far back as 1909, when she read some of his works in the original German. H.D. was referred by Bryher's psychoanalyst due to her increasing paranoia about the rise of Adolf Hitler which indicated another world war, an idea that H.D. found intolerable. The Great War (World War I) had left her feeling shattered. She had lost her brother in action, while her husband suffered effects of combat experiences, and she believed that the onslaught of the war indirectly caused the death of her child with Aldington: she believed it was her shock at hearing the news about the RMS Lusitania that directly caused her miscarriage. Writing on the Wall, her memoir about this psychoanalysis, was written concurrently with Trilogy and published in 1944; in 1956 it was republished with Advent, a journal of the analysis, under the title Tribute to Freud.
H.D. and Bryher spent the duration of World War II in London. During this time, H.D. wrote The Gift, a memoir of her childhood and family life in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which reflects on people and events in her background that helped shape her as a writer. The Gift was eventually published in 1960 and 1982. She also wrote Trilogy, published as The Walls do not Fall (1944), Tribute to the Angels (1945) and The Flowering of the Rod (1946).
After the war, H.D. and Bryher no longer lived together, but remained in contact. H.D. moved to Switzerland where, in the spring of 1946, she suffered a severe mental breakdown which resulted in her staying in a clinic until the autumn of that year. Apart from a number of trips to the States, H.D. spent the rest of her life in Switzerland. In the late 1950s, she underwent more treatment, this time with the psychoanalyst Erich Heydt. At Heydt's prompting, she wrote End to Torment, a memoir of her relationship with Pound, who allowed the poems of Hilda's Book to be included when the book was published. Doolittle was one of the leading figures in the bohemian culture of London in the early decades of the century. Her later poetry explores traditional epic themes, such as violence and war, from a feminist perspective. H.D. was the first woman to be granted the American Academy of Arts and Letters medal.
During the 1950s, H.D. wrote a considerable amount of poetry, most notably Helen in Egypt (written between 1952–54), an examination from a feminist point of view of a male-centred epic poetry. H.D. used Euripides's play Helen as a starting point for a reinterpretation of the basis of the Trojan War and, by extension, of war itself. This work has been seen by some critics, including Jeffrey Twitchell-Waas, as H.D.'s response to Pound's Cantos, a work she greatly admired. Other poems from this period include Sagesse, Winter Love and Hermetic Definition. These three were published posthumously with the collective title Hermetic Definition (1972). The poem Hermetic Definition takes as its starting points her love for a man 30 years her junior and the line 'so slow is the rose to open' from Pound's Canto 106. Sagesse, written in bed after H.D. had broken her hip in a fall, serves as a kind of coda to Trilogy, being partly written in the voice of a young female Blitz survivor who finds herself living in fear of the atom bomb. Winter Love was written together with End to Torment and uses as narrator the Homeric figure of Penelope to restate the material of the memoir in poetic form. At one time, H.D. considered appending this poem as a coda to Helen in Egypt.
H.D. visited the United States in 1960 to collect an American Academy of Arts and Letters medal. Returning to Switzerland, she suffered a stroke in July 1961 and died a couple of months later in the Klinik Hirslanden in Zürich. Her ashes were returned to Bethlehem, and were buried in the family plot in the Nisky Hill Cemetery on October 28, 1961.
The rediscovery of H.D. began in the 1970s, and coincided with the emergence of a feminist criticism that found much to admire in the questioning of gender roles typical of her writings. Specifically, those critics who were challenging the standard view of English-language literary modernism based on the work of such male writers as Pound, Eliot and James Joyce, were able to restore H.D. to a more significant position in the history of that movement. Her writings have served as a model for a number of more recent women poets working in the modernist tradition; including the New York School poet Barbara Guest, the Anglo-American poet Denise Levertov, the Black Mountain poet Hilda Morley and the Language poet Susan Howe. Her influence is not limited to female poets, and many male writers, including Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley, have acknowledged their debt.
Burial: Nisky Hill Cemetery, Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, USA
Bryher (September 2, 1894 – January 28, 1983) was the pen name of the novelist, poet, memoirist, and magazine editor Annie Winifred Ellerman. She was born in September 1894 in Margate. Her father was the shipowner and financier John Ellerman, who at the time of his death in 1933, was the richest Englishman who had ever lived. He lived with her mother Hannah Glover, but did not marry her until 1908. (Picture: Bryher by Carl Van Vechten)
She traveled in Europe as a child, to France, Italy and Egypt. At the age of fourteen she was enrolled in a traditional English boarding school and at around this time her mother and father married. On one of her travels, Ellerman journeyed to the Isles of Scilly off the southwestern coast of Great Britain and acquired her future pseudonym from her favourite island, Bryher.
During the 1920s, Bryher was an unconventional figure in Paris. Among her circle of friends were Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach and Berenice Abbott. Her wealth enabled her to give financial support to struggling writers, including Joyce and Edith Sitwell. She also helped with finance for Sylvia Beach's bookshop Shakespeare and Company and certain publishing ventures, and started a film company Pool Group. She also helped provide funds to purchase a flat in Paris for the destitute Dada artist and writer Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.
Bryher knew from an early age that she was lesbian. In 1918 she met and became involved in a lesbian relationship with poet Hilda Doolittle (better known by her initials, H.D.). The relationship was an open one, with both taking other partners. In 1921 she entered into a marriage of convenience with the American author Robert McAlmon, whom she divorced in 1927.
H.D. and Bryher
That same year she married Kenneth Macpherson, a writer who shared her interest in film and who was at the same time H.D.'s lover. In Burier, Switzerland, overlooking Lake Geneva, the couple built a Bauhaus-style style structure that doubled as a home and film studio, which they named Kenwin. They formally adopted H.D.'s young daughter, Perdita. In 1928, H.D. became pregnant with Macpherson's child, but chose to abort the pregnancy. Bryher divorced MacPherson in 1947, she and Doolittle no longer lived together after 1946, but continued their relationship until Doolittle's death in 1961.
Bryher, H.D., and Macpherson formed the film magazine Close Up, and the Pool Group. Only one POOL film, Borderline (1930), starring H.D. and Paul Robeson, survives in its entirety. In common with the Borderline novellas, it explores extreme psychic states and their relationship to surface reality. Bryher herself plays an innkeeper.
Bryher's most notable non-fiction work was Film Problems of Soviet Russia (1929). In Close Up she compared Hollywood unfavorably with Soviet filmmaking, arguing that the studio system had "lowered the standards" of cinema. Her writings also helped to bring Sergei Eisenstein to the attention of the British public.
In a 1933 article in Close up entitled "What Shall You Do in the War?", Bryher wrote about the situation of Jews in Germany, urging readers to take action. Starting that year, her home in Switzerland became a "receiving station" for refugees; she helped more than 100 people escape Nazi persecution before she was forced to flee herself in 1940. This experience influenced her 1965 "Science Fantasy" novel Visa for Avalon, about a group of people trying to escape an unnamed country for a place called Avalon on the eve of revolution.
From 1940 to 1946 she lived in London with H.D. and supervised the literary magazine Life and Letters To-day. She later wrote a memoir of these years entitled The Days of Mars, as well as a novel, Beowulf (1948), set during the Blitz. (Picture: Kenneth Macpherson)
Starting in 1952, she wrote a series of historical novels. Most are set in Britain during various eras; Roman Wall (1954) and The Coin of Carthage (1963) are set in the Roman Empire; Ruan (1960) is set in a post-Arthurian Britain. They are well researched and vivid, typically set in times of turmoil and often seen from the perspective of a young man. Ruan portrays the adventures of a Druid Novice who yearns to escape the confines of his surroundings and upbringing to become a sea captain.
Acclaimed in her own time, her historical novels have now fallen out of print. Since 2000, Visa for Avalon, her early semi-autobiographical novels Development and Two Selves, her memoir The Heart to Artemis, and her historical novel The Player's Boy have all been republished.
Once and future coeditors Kenneth Macpherson, Robert Herring, and Bryher at Advent Bay, Norway, July 1929
Jimmie Daniels, a nightclub singer who participated in the Kool Jazz Festival's ''Evening of the Music of Harold Arlen'' at Carnegie Hall, died on June 29, 1984 in St. Clare's Hospital after suffering a stroke. He was 76 years old and lived in Manhattan.
Mr. Daniels's repertory focused on the songs of the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart and Cole Porter as well as Harold Arlen. He worked in New York, Paris, London and Monaco.
James Lesley Daniels was born in Laredo, Tex. From 1939 to 1942, before going into military service, he owned and operated the Harlem supper club that bore his name. Later, he was on the bill at such clubs as the Bon Soir and Little Casino. Most recently he performed at Jan Wallman's Restaurant in Greenwich Village. (Picture: Kenneth Macpherson)
"A fresh-faced teenager, Jimmie Daniels arrived in Harlem sometime during the mid-1920's. He was lithe, delicate, and had an engaging, infectious smile that he would soon learn to use to his advantage. Singer Alberta Hunter, a lifelong friend, remembered the time well. "This one was just a little one" she said. "Handsome? Oh, was he handsome! He had hair as red as fire, and his folks had money." Dare anyone have said that they thought the young, refined singer with the impeccable style, grace and proper enunciation was just a little snobbish and affectatious, too?
Kenneth Macpherson & Jimmie Daniels posing with Richmond Barthe's unfinished carving of Daniels, 1938
Richmond Barthe said he chose Jimmie Daniels as his subject because of his dazzling smile, but it was actually Kenneth Macpherson's wife, Winifred Ellerman aka Bryher, who commissioned the bust. Kenneth Macpherson was Jimmie Daniels' lover and his was a marriage of convenience. Bryher supported her husband, who in turn supported Jimmie, thus affording him a high-class life in a Greenwich Village apartment for several years.
by Carl Van Vechten
Jimmie's establishment on 125th St in Harlem
by George Platt Lynes
Daniels and Macpherson out on the town in Harlem with their friend, Lloyd Thomas (actress Edna Thomas' husband)
Macpherson, Daniels and the much admired Blanche Dunn, whom Bruce Nugent called a "harmless" gold digger, early 40's
An early shot of Jimmie with his downtown friends, including illustrator Prentiss Taylor (standing, center) and actor Tonio Selwart and Donald Angus, March 1932
It wouldn't have mattered! It certainly would not have stopped the young, attractive Daniels from enjoying the ride of his youth, and becoming one of the most popular cafe singers and masters of ceremonies of the Harlem Renaissance. In demand from New York to Paris, these accomplishments were but stepping stones toward bigger and better things. Fortunately, the journey was documented by some of the leading photographers and artists of the time like George Platt Lynes, Carl Van Vechten and Richmond Barthe. And having several high profile, rich white boyfriends didn't hurt him not one bit!
By the end of the 1930's, the ambitious Daniels owned his own supper club in Harlem. It would be the first of many. He could not always go downtown and be black and fabulous but he did learn how to bring downtown uptown and cash in during the process. Jimmie's clubs catered to the downtown trade out for a night of slumming while searching for the exotique in Harlem. Everybody got what they wanted!
According to some reports, Jimmie started out at Lenox Avenue's Bronze Studio Catering Hall, but certainly opened his first club on Lenox Avenue at 116th Street in the Bernheimer Building around 1938. Condescendingly, The New Yorker described it as a model of dignity and respectability .... by Harlem standards! He moved to 114 E. 125th Street in 1941. Just a few years earlier, he had been the host with the most at other people's clubs like Jean Cocteau's le Boeuf sur le Toit in Paris. But some ten years later, Daniels was thriving as the host of the Bon Soir on West 8th Street, a very popular spot with a loyal clientel interested in crossing the often debilitating lines of race, sex and sexual orientation.
Richmond Barthe was known as one of the best portraitists and sculpters in New York! Although he later switched almost exclusively to bronze works, he showed extraordinary skill at whatever he put his hand to, fully capturing Daniels's exuberant spirit and mischievous expression. In fact, Barthe said he chose Daniels as his subject because of his dazzling smile, but it was actually Scottish filmmaker Kenneth Macpherson's wealthy wife, Winifred Ellerman (whom Americans knew as the poet, Bryher) who commissioned the bust. Kenneth Macpherson was Jimmie Daniels' lover! His wife was a lesbian! Their marriage was one of convenience! Ellerman heavily supported her husband, who in turn heavily supported Jimmie, thus affording him a high-class life in a Greenwich Village apartment for several years. In an impressive effort, they all conspired to help the black, gay and handsome Barthe, who was quite down on his luck at the time and needed the work and cash.
Before Kenneth Macpherson, there was the famed architect, Phillip Johnson. They met around 1934 when Jimmie was first starting to get some real recognition as an entertainer. Daniels personified everything Johnson looked for during his late night excursions to Harlem - brown-skinned exoticism and good times! Johnson had everything Daniels seemed to desire for himself - money and status, plus he was adventuresome, too. (Picture: Phillip Johnson)
At first glance, it would seem that they would have been made for each other but that was not the case. There were no cute apartments in Greenwich Village, and the young singer only saw Johnson at the slightly older man's convenience. Six decades later, Johnson looked back with an odd mix of fond recall and regret. Referring to Daniels as "the first Mrs. Johnson" he said "I was the envy of all downtown. It was so chic - it was what one did if one was really up to date. Those were the days when you just automatically went to Harlem."
At the time, Jimmie lived as a border at 1890 Seventh Avenue on the north-west corner of 115th Street in a cooperative unit owned by the actress Edna Thomas. Thomas's husband Lloyd also lived there as did her white lesbian lover. "We went to the house of an English lady who lived with a black actress - lesbians! "So it was comfortable and familial. There was also a husband around. I'd spend the night there. I tried having him downtown; it didn't work so well. They'd say 'I'm sorry we're full tonight (at a totall empty dining room).' "But I was naughty" Johnson revealed. "I went to Europe and I would never THINK of taking Jimmie along. I had rather an upper-lower class feeling about him ... terrible way to treat anybody" he confessed to his credit. Indeed, after a year of foolishness, Jimmie Daniels very swiftly cashed in for Kenneth Macpherson! "A terrible man stole him away - who had better sex with him, I gather" Johnson later quipped.
By October of 1942, Jimmie was training in bootcamp during WWII. That must have been extremely interesting but true to form, he ended up entertaining the troops throughout Europe. He continued to host and perform throughout the 50's, and intermittently for the rest of his life.
In the early 80's, Jimmie often lived with his oldest, dearest friend, the legendary Alberta Hunter and took care of her in her waning years. He was still rather well set up and secure by the time he preceeded her in death at the age of 76, in 1984.
Many of the gay-oriented clubs were located in the area between Fifth and Seventh Avenues, from 130th to 138th Street, where most of Harlem’s best-known clubs were clustered. The Cotton Club, Connie’s Inn, Barron’s, the Lenox, and other clubs that attracted a large (and sometimes exclusively) white trade were in this district, along with the Savoy Ballroom, Small’s Paradise, and other clubs welcoming a largely black or interracial audience. Many of the district’s most notorious speakeasies and clubs lined a strip on 133rd Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues known as “The Jungle.” Gay entertainers with large gay followings were featured at several of the district’s clubs, including the Hot Cha at 132nd Street and Seventh Avenue, where the well-known entertainer and host Jimmie Daniels sang sophisticated tunes. A handful of clubs catered to lesbians and gay men, including the Hobby Horse, Tillie’s Kitchen, and the Dishpan, and other well-known clubs, including Small’s Paradise, welcomed their presence.
The organization of the Hamilton Lodge ball codified the differences between the public styles of middle-class and working-class gay men. Middle-class men passing as straight sat in the balcony with other members of Harlem’s social elite looking down on the spectacle of workingmen in drag. Although the newspapers regularly noted the appearance of Caska Bonds, Harold Jackman, Edward G. Perry, Clinton Moore, Eddie Manchester, Jimmie Daniels, and other middle-class gay men at the balls, they simply included them in the lists of other celebrities and society people in attendance, all presumed to be straight.119 Some of the society people they joined to watch the queers must have known of their involvement in the gay life, and undoubtedly some of the reporters and readers of the papers knew as well. But all concerned seem to have agreed not to say anything. --Chauncey, George (1995-05-18). Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. BASIC. Kindle Edition.
Philip Johnson found his first serious lover in Harlem-an extremely handsome cafe singer named Jimmie Daniels. Johnson met Daniels during one of his excursions uptown with the composer Virgil Thomson. The architect was enchanted by Daniels, whom he later referred to as "the first Mrs. Johnson." There would be three more "Mrs. Johnsons" after him. Daniels was "a most charming man," Johnson recalled six decades later. "I still look back with greatest pleasure. I was the envy of all downtown. It was so chic in those days-it was what one did if one was really up to date. Those were the days when you just automatically went to Harlem. I had an older friend living in a midtown hotel, and he had an open Chrysler. And every evening when it was still light, we'd go up there. We knew that Harlem was the only place there was any freedom. "We went to the house of an English lady who lived with a black actress-lesbians," Johnson continued. "And in that house Jimmie also lived as a boarder. So it was comfortable and familial. There was also a husband around. I'd spend the night there. I tried to have him downtown; it didn't work so well. They'd say, `I'm sorry we're full tonight'-a totally empty dining room. Even in New York City in the 1930s. "He was a beautiful, beautiful kid," Johnson recalled. "I was always interested in younger people." Daniels was eighteen and Johnson was twenty-five. The affair ended after a year: "A terrible man stole him away-who had better sex with him, I gather. But I was naughty. I went to Europe and I would never think of taking Jimmie along. I had rather an upper-lower-class feeling about him. I didn't realize it at the time, but it must have galled him. Everything that I was doing that was interesting, he wouldn't be included. Terrible way to treat anybody." Virgil Thomson was so impressed by Jimmie Daniels's "impeccable enunciation" that he decided to write an opera "sung by Negroes." The result was Four Saints in Three Acts, with a libretto by Gertrude Stein. Daniels had sung in clubs throughout Europe during the thirties, and he became a fixture of New York nightlife. In 1939, he opened Jimmie Daniels' at 114 West 116th Street, an establishment that The New Yorker described as a "model of dignity and respectability" by "Harlem standards." Ten years later Daniels was the host at the Bon Soir on West 8th Street, where "blacks and whites [and] gays and straights mingled without a trace of tension," according to the historian James Gavin. Barbra Streisand, Phyllis Diller, and Kaye Ballard all eventually performed there.--Charles Kaiser. The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America (Kindle Locations 663-678). Kindle Edition.Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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