Partner Jane Heap, Georgette Leblanc and Dorothy Caruso, buried with Leblanc
Western College for Women, Western College Dr, Oxford, OH 45056, Stati Uniti
27 W 8th St, New York, NY 10011
24 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011, Stati Uniti
80 Rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris, France
W Joppa Rd, Riderwood, Towson, MD 21204
Notre Dame des Anges Cemetery, Rue de l'Ouest, 06110 Le Cannet, Francia
Margaret Caroline Anderson (November 24, 1886 – October 19, 1973) was the American founder, editor and publisher of the art and literary magazine The Little Review, which published a collection of modern American, English and Irish writers between 1914 and 1929. Anderson wrote the first defense of homosexuality in the US, published in The Litte Review in 1913. Solita Solano supported her lover, Margaret Anderson, founder of the Little Review, and Margaret’s other lover, the soprano Georgette Leblanc, out of her own meagre funds.
The Little Review is most noted for introducing many prominent American and British writers of the 20th century, such as Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot in the United States, and publishing the first thirteen chapters of James Joyce's then-unpublished novel, Ulysses. Ezra Pound called The Little Review “an insouciant little pagan paper.” Margaret Anderson was the only editor in America, he said, who “ever felt need of, or responsibility for, getting the best writers concentrated” in a single periodical.
Friend and admirer of Emma Goldman, she contributed to Mother Earth’s 10th anniversary edition and visited Goldman at Bon Esprit; she turned away from anarchism in her later years.
A large collection of her papers on Gurdjieff's teaching is now preserved at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Margaret Anderson. Photo by Man Ray.
Margaret Anderson. Photo by Berenice Abbott, circa 1925.
Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, middle standing; Ezra Pound, right standing; Man Ray, with camera; Mina Loy, front center; Tristan Tzara, to her right; and Jean Cocteau, with cane; in Paris
Tristan Tzara (second from right) in the 1920s, with Margaret C. Anderson, Jane Heap, and John Rodker
Studebaker Building/Fine Arts Building, 410-418 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
24 W 16th St
Anderson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the eldest of three daughters of Arthur Aubrey Anderson and Jessie (Shortridge) Anderson. She graduated from high school in Anderson, Indiana, in 1903, and then entered a two-year junior preparatory class at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio. By her fourth year, she had informed her father that paying her tuition would no longer be necessary. She left Western in 1906, at the end of her freshman year, to pursue a career as a pianist. She was moving to Chicago. Her parents protested: It was improper for a single woman to live on her own. She was too young, too irresponsible, far too extravagant. Margaret, however, was not to be dissuaded. In her view, the first and most important rule of life was always to do what one wanted to do. Margaret always did. She promptly wrote to the Chicago journalist Clara Laughlin. How, she inquired, could a “perfectly nice but revolting girl leave home?” Clara suggested she come in for an interview and was so entranced, after an afternoon in Margaret’s company, that she offered her a job on the spot, interviewing stage celebrities.
In the fall of 1908 she left home for Chicago, where she reviewed books for a religious weekly (The Continent) before joining The Dial. By 1913 she was a book critic for the Chicago Evening Post.
In March 1914, Anderson founded the avant-garde literary magazine The Little Review during Chicago's literary renaissance, which became not just influential, but soon created a unique place for itself and for her in the American literary and artistic history. "An organ of two interests, art and good talk about art", the monthly's first issue featured articles on Nietzsche, feminism and psychoanalysis. One enthusiast gave $100. The novelist and editor Floyd Dell hosted a small soiree where she collected another $450, along with a pledge from an impressionable supporter, Dewitt Wing. He was so seduced by Margaret’s idea, or perhaps by svelte Margaret herself, that he promised to foot every month’s rent and printing bill. Despite countless typographical errors—Margaret refused to proofread galleys before printing—and claims by a few that it seemed rather “amateurish” (the “triumph of wide-eyed and high-hearted ineptitude,” as Eunice Tietjens put it), the magazine received rave notices. Off to a rollicking start, Margaret immediately began planning a second issue, which featured an impressive list of contributors including William Butler Yeats and Sherwood Anderson. As the third issue was about to go to press, Margaret met the anarchist Emma Goldman, “just in time to turn anarchist before the presses closed,” as she remembered. Enthralled by Emma’s flaming oratory, Margaret fired off a passionate editorial lauding Red Emma’s anarchist views. Despite the satisfying furor that arose in the wake of Margaret’s piece, Chicago wasn’t entirely ready, it seemed, to endorse free love and beneficent bomb throwing. Dewitt announced that he could no longer continue his association with a magazine that was “going anarchist.”
Early funding was intermittent, and for six months in 1914, she was forced out of her Chicago residence at 837 West Ainslie Street, and the magazine's offices at Chicago Fine Arts Building at 410 S. Michigan Avenue, and camped with family and staff members on the shores of Lake Michigan. Everyone helped when they could. The poet Eunice Tietjens pawned a diamond wedding ring to subsidize one Little Review issue. Frank Lloyd Wright contributed $100 toward another. Vachel Lindsay pledged the money he’d won in a poetry prize. She was “so unbelievably beautiful,” as Tietjens put it, “so vital, and so absurd,” that people adored her. They were mesmerized by her spirit, her irreverent daring. Sometimes Emma Goldman came out to visit on weekends, appearing, as one onlooker recalled, “like a disgruntled tragedy queen dispossessed by her rightly throne.” Emma, always garbed in heavy clothing, would sit on a stool, unable to focus on anything but swatting mosquitoes. Margaret’s answer to the bugs was action: stripping off her clothes, she would leap into the icy lake. “You see, [Emma’s] a city Anarchist,” Margaret would coyly observe. “She’s not used to real freedom.”
The writer Ben Hecht, who was at least partly in love with her then, described her this way: "She was blond, shapely, with lean ankles and a Scandinavian face. ... I forgave her her chastity because she was a genius. During the years I knew her she wore the same suit, a tailored affair in robin's egg blue. Despite this unvarying costume she was as chic as any of the girls who model today for the fashion magazines. ... It was surprising to see a coiffure so neat on a noggin so stormy."
In 1916, Anderson met Jane Heap, a spirited intellectual and artist immersed in the Chicago Arts and Crafts Movement, and a former lover to novelist Djuna Barnes. The two became lovers, and Anderson convinced her to become co-editor of The Little Review. Heap maintained a low profile, signing her contributions simply "jh", but she had a major impact on the success of the journal through its bold and radical content. Jane’s pithy pronouncements were legendary. She famously called the Paris publisher Robert McAlmon “an epileptic without gumption enough to have fits” and said that Burton Rascoe, literary editor of the Herald Tribune, “wouldn’t have recognized the Sphinx outside of Egypt.” Once, paying tribute to someone who had (briefly) understood her, Jane remarked: “A hand on the exact octave that is me.” Another time, responding to Margaret’s cry that “life should be ecstasy,” Jane laconically replied, “Why limit me to ecstasy?”
In February 1916 the he Little Review was now two years old and Margaret Anderson had just moved back to downtown Chicago, her lakefront interlude having come to a close. One day an heiress whom Margaret had impishly dubbed Nineteen Millions (Aline Barnsdall) was visiting the magazine offices. Margaret, of course, was hoping that her wealthy guest might be willing to part with a few pennies in the interest of “Art.” The courtship was well under way. Minutes earlier, Jane Heap had come in. A perfect stranger, she stood quietly to the side, big-boned and imposing, listening as Nineteen Millions spouted opinions. Jane watched with interest. Finally, letting out a tender laugh, she interjected a wry observation. Nineteen Millions glared at Jane with fury. Then she abruptly stomped out, muttering that, above all things, she “disliked frivolity.” Margaret’s reaction was just the opposite. She knew instantly that she wanted to live with this kind of frivolity forever. All that spring Margaret had been casting about for a housing solution to the summer. One day it occurred to her that Nineteen Millions had extended an open invitation to visit her in California. Margaret wrote immediately to say she was coming—she and her “helpmate” Jane Heap—choosing to overlook the minor matter of their earlier spat. Nineteen Millions was less forgetful. Margaret was of course welcome, she wrote; Jane Heap was emphatically not. Undeterred, Margaret insisted they go anyway. Though this time it was Margaret who stomped out in a huff, only moments after Nineteen Millions had pronounced Jane “odious” for a second time. Margaret never doubted their luck would turn.
For a while, Anderson and Heap published the magazine out of a ranch in Muir Woods, across the San Francisco Bay Area, before moving to New York's Greenwich Village in 1917. With the help of critic Ezra Pound, who acted as her foreign editor in London, The Little Review published some of the most influential new writers in the English language, including Hart Crane, T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Pound himself, and William Butler Yeats. The magazine's most published poet was New York dadaist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, with whom Heap became friends on the basis of their shared confrontational feminist and artistic agendas. Other notable contributors included Sherwood Anderson, André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Malcolm Cowley, Marcel Duchamp, Ford Madox Ford, Emma Goldman, Vachel Lindsay, Amy Lowell, Francis Picabia, Carl Sandburg, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Arthur Waley, and William Carlos Williams. Even so, however, she once published an issue with a dozen blank pages to protest the temporary lack of exciting new works.
When the famously overbearing Boston heiress Amy Lowell arrived one morning unannounced and tried to insinuate herself onto the Little Review staff, Margaret bravely stood her ground, refusing to be bought. Big-boned and so immense, Margaret remembered, that she could barely squeeze through the door, Amy Lowell was a poet herself. “I have money,” Amy announced. “You haven’t.” She was prepared, she said, to offer Margaret $150 a month in return for editorship of the Little Review poetry department. “I’ll merely direct,” she added. “You can count on me never to dictate.” “No clairvoyant was needed to know that Amy Lowell would dictate … any adventure in which she had a part,” Margaret wryly observed. She was so sorry, she answered, but she couldn’t possibly function “in association.”
In 1918, starting with the March issue, The Little Review began serializing James Joyce's Ulysses. Over time the U.S. Post Office seized and burned four issues of the magazine, and Anderson and her companion and associate editor, Jane Heap, were convicted of obscenity charges. Although the obscenity trial was ostensibly about Ulysses, Irene Gammel argues that The Little Review came under attack for its overall subversive tone and, in particular, its publication of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s sexually explicit poetry and outspoken defense of Joyce. During the trial in February, 1921, hundreds of "Greenwich Villagers", men and women, marched into Special Court Sessions; eventually, Anderson and Heap were each fined $100 and fingerprinted.
At about the same time, the Little Review editors accepted their first story by Djuna Barnes, beginning an uneasy friendship that, in Margaret Anderson’s words, “might have been great had it not been that Djuna always felt some fundamental distrust of our life—of our talk.” Margaret had initially been taken by the tall, dashing Djuna, with her mordant wit and elegant voice, her trill of sharp laughter. She was moved by Djuna’s maternal side. “You two poor things,” Djuna would say in her warm, laughing voice. “You’re both crazy of course, God help you. I suppose I can stand it if you can, but someone ought to look out for you.” Djuna looked out for them by bringing in the first strawberries of spring and the last oysters of winter, said Margaret, “but to the more important luxuries of the soul she turned an unhearing ear. Djuna would never talk. . . . She said it was because she was reserved about herself. She wasn’t, in fact, reserved—she was unenlightened.” On Djuna’s part, she viewed Margaret with wary respect. Though she mocked Margaret’s fastidiousness, saying that she even washed her soap before using it, decades later, recalling Margaret in a letter, she wrote: “In her young years I never thought her very good-looking, as many people did, but now she is beautiful—I mean it really. Her serious face is beautifully tragic and her smile has the loveliest, most touching charm.” Later Margaret would accuse Djuna of having an “outside that was often stunning” and an inside that she didn’t know anything about. Margaret said it embarrassed her “to attempt a relationship with anyone who was not on speaking terms with her own psyche.” The truth was more complicated. The seed of Margaret’s hostility was sown, no doubt, by an affair rumored to have taken place between Djuna and Jane Heap sometime between 1918 and 1919. The only witness to the full fury produced by the incident comes in a short passage from the memoirs of the artist Maurice Sterne, Mabel Dodge’s third husband and briefly one of Barnes’s lovers. As Sterne remembered: I had dinner with Djuna Barnes, the avant-garde writer, occasionally. She ordinarily spoke very little, being more interested in observing the people she was with. One night at Polly’s restaurant in Greenwich Village, Djuna suddenly exclaimed that she saw someone she knew. She took me over to a table where a mousy girl was dining with some friends. Djuna began hissing,—hate you, I hate you, I hate you over and over again. The tan mouse smiled sweetly but there was an electric spark in her smile and they had an ominously quiet, violent fight before Djuna stalked out with that long stride of hers. The “mouse” was Margaret Anderson and the matter in dispute was her lover Jane. Djuna’s letters to another friend, written sometime in 1938, refer to Jane Heap as a “shit,” perhaps indicating that the affair ended badly.
Margaret Anderson moved to Paris in the 1920s. "Hysteric" was the word Gertrude Stein used to describe Margaret Anderson when they met in Paris in the 1920s.
In early 1924, through Alfred Richard Orage, Anderson came to know of spiritual teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, and saw performances of his 'Sacred dances', first at the 'Neighbourhood Playhouse', and later at Carnegie Hall. Shortly after Gurdjieff's automobile accident, Anderson, along with Georgette Leblanc, Jane Heap and Monique Surrere, moved to France to visit him at Fountainebleau-Avon, where he had set up his institute at Château du Prieuré in Avon.
Anderson and Heap adopted the two sons of Anderson's ailing sister, Lois. They brought Lois and sons Tom and Arthur ‘Fritz’ Peters to Prieuré in June 1924, After they returned to New York in 1925, two of the boys were taken in by Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein.
Later, Anderson moved to Le Cannet on the French Riviera, to live in "le phare de Tancarville" for many years with the French singer Georgette Leblanc and Lois and her daughter Linda Card.
The final issue of The Little Review was edited at Hotel St.
Germain-Des-Pres, 36 rue Bonaparte, Paris, on May 1929. It appeared with a
"confessions and letters" from "more than 50 of the foremost men and women
in the arts." "Why do you go on living?" was the windup, and some of the
"Because I like to." Sherwood Anderson
"Because of love." Jean Cocteau
"Most of the time I don't think that I do." Charles Demuth
"I go on living because it is an instinct I am not able completely to conquer... There seems nothing to do about death except life." Janet Flanner
"I am dead already." Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
"Sing a song of critics, Pockets full of lye..." Ernest Hemingway
"Because I enjoy being a partially reasonable being in an irrational scheme." Aldous Huxley
"Because I enjoy life." Bertrand Russell
"I am." Gertrude Stein
"Funerals are so expensive, and, oh, the reminiscenses!" Edith Sitwell
"I have enjoyed it at times. I may again." Solita Solano
"Do trees contemplate suicide?" Allen Tanner
"In those days, ca. 1916, the Little Review was the only periodical in America which would accept my work and, indeed, the only periodical there in which I cared to appear." T.S. Eliot
Anderson published a three-volume autobiography: My Thirty Years' War (1930), The Fiery Fountains, and The Strange Necessity in her last years in Le Cannet. There she wrote her final book, the novel and memoir, Forbidden Fires.
The teachings of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff played an important role in Anderson's life. Anderson met Gurdjieff in Paris and, together with Leblanc, began studies with him, focusing on his original teaching called The Fourth Way. From 1935 to 1939, Anderson and Georgette Leblanc studied with Gurdjieff as part of a group of women known as "The Rope", which included eight members in all: Jane Heap, Elizabeth Gordon, Solita Solano, Kathryn Hulme, Louise Davidson and Alice Rohrer (a San Francisco milliner, who had been Kathryn Hulme's companion at the time she met Gurdjieff), besides them. Along with Katherine Mansfield and Jane Heap, she remains one of the most noted institutees of Gurdjieff's, Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, at Fontainebleau, near Paris, from October 1922 to 1924.
Anderson studied with Gurdjieff in France until his death in October 1949, writing about him and his teachings in most of her books, most extensively in her memoir, The Unknowable Gurdjieff.
By 1942 her relationship with Heap had cooled, and, evacuating from the war in France, Anderson sailed for the United States. Jane Heap had moved to London in 1935, where she led Gurdjieff study groups until her death in 1964. With her passage paid by Ernest Hemingway, Anderson met on the voyage Dorothy Caruso, widow of the singer and famous tenor Enrico Caruso. The two began a romantic relationship, and lived together until Caruso's death in 1955.
With the single exception of his long friendship with Natalie Barney, who provided him some financial support over the years, it was impossible for Pound to maintain relationships with homosexual women. Both editors of the Little Review were lesbian; although for a while Margaret Anderson allowed Pound’s enthusiasms to direct the journal, when they later met in Paris, she found him high-strung, agitated, and “over-elaborate” in his attitude toward women. Irritated at the way he treated women and the extent to which he used the Little Review to aggrandize himself, she dropped him from the masthead the following year. Writing to Solita Solano on 11 November 1972, Anderson said, “I wish, when critics write of me, they would mention what Ezra said: ‘No editor in America, save Margaret Anderson, even felt the need of, or responsibility for, getting the best writers concentrated—i.e., brought them together—in an American periodical.’ It was Ezra who influenced me to publish ‘Ulysses’—he simply sent the manuscript. I published it because I loved the ‘Portrait of the Artist’ and because of the magic words in the first chapter of ‘Ulysses.’”
Anderson returned to Le Cannet after Caruso's death, and there she died of emphysema on October 19, 1973. She is buried beside Georgette Leblanc in the Notre Dame des Anges Cemetery.
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