Marianne Moore: Poetry

September 29, 2012

Guido Bruno

Note: Since this piece appeared on line, I received a note from Arnold I. Kisch, Guido Bruno’s nephew, who published the following book about his uncle:  The Romantic Ghost of Greenwich Village: Guido Bruno in His Garret. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1976.

The book is out of print but WorldCat lists it in 36 American research libraries and another 15 elsewhere.  Google Books reports the existence of the book but in a “no preview” format which means that there is no direct online access to it.

From his “Garret” at 58 Washington Square South, the colorful Villageois Guido Bruno published the periodicals Bruno’s Weekly, Bruno’s Bohemia, Bruno’s Monthly, Greenwich Village and a series of chapbooks, all sold for a few cents, from about 1913 to about 1917. Moore visited his studio on her fabled trip to New York in December, 1915 (see SL, pp. 111-112); she came away with Alfred Kreymborg’s Mushrooms, copies of the Weekly, and tickets to the Thimble Theater. Bruno included her short poems “Holes Bored in a Workbag by the Scissors” and “Apropos of Mice” in his Weekly in October, 1916. Moore might have found Bruno the self-promoter, courter of the intersection of free speech and indiscretion, less than likeable, but she could not have missed his impact on the Village and beyond. He had been, and in spirit continued to be, part of the place she moved to when she first had a choice in 1918: 14 St. Luke’s Place, Greenwich Village.

Bruno busied himself about the Village, holding art openings for Clara Tice and other in his garret, managing Charles Edison’s Thimble Theatre on Fifth Avenue, across from the Brevort Hotel, planning for publications rather than statues as monuments to American composers like Stephen Foster. His devotion to Djuna Barns led to his publishing her chapbook, The Book of Repulsive Women: 8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings in 1915. Other chapbooks featured work by Kreymborg, Oscar Wilde, Sadakichi Hartmann, and Hubert Crackanthorpe.

Fire destroyed his garret in 1916, taking with it a 68-page manuscript by G. B. Shaw, but Bruno continued to ply his literary and “anarchist” interests, mounting Strindberg plays at the Thimble, raising funds of $25,000 to free Emma Goldman from prison, contributing to Pearson’s Magazine along with Floyd Dell and Upton Sinclair. Such was his fame that mention of him turns up in papers widespread as the Appleton (Wisconsin) Post Crescent, The San Antonio Light, and The Corning (N. Y.) Evening Leader in addition to many mentions in the New York papers. As Maurice Zolotof wrote in the New York Times in 1939, Bruno broke down the insularity of the Village and, through his publications, made its citizens self-conscious.

He also made them aware of him. Charles Sumner’s vice squad brought him up on charges for publishing Kreymborg’s Edna: A Girl of the Streets, meant as a commentary on the evils of prostitution. Frank Harris, editor of Pearson’s Magazine and himself notorious for sexual explicitness, testified that the book had not titillated him. Sumner confiscated 350 copies of the book and 150 advertising flyers, but did not have Bruno arrested. Bruno, however, claimed bankruptcy in 1917 when he sued Sumner for $100,000 damages.

By that time, America was at war in Europe and the Villiage that Bruno celebrated had begun to change. In 1919, he wrote a piece later published in his Adventures in American Bookshops (1922):

The fad of false Bohemia in Greenwich Village has passed. The purple and orange brand of tearooms and of so-called gift shops where art lovers and artistic people from the Bronx and Flatbush assembled, have gone out of existence. The designers and manufacturers of astounding atrocities who called themselves “modern artists” have disappeared. True there are a few short-haired women left, who parade the streets in their unusual clothes, but they, too, will soon move to other parts of the city with the return of the soldiers, and will reassume their real calling in life.

False Bohemia, indeed. The original Guido Bruno, Kurt Josef Kisch, was born in Mlada Boleslav, Bohemia, on October 15, 1884. His father, the distinguished Rabbi Alexander Kisch, served a congregation in that town from 1881-1886 before returning to Prague; a professor with a doctorate from the University of Breslau, Rabbi Kisch later taught such literary luminaries as Max Brod and Franz Werfel.

Young Kurt sailed for New York in 1906 aboard the Dalmatia. He arrived on December 20, a medical student bound for Chicago probably to study with his uncle, Dr. William Mislaf (or Mitzlaff), who was an ear and eye specialist on North Clark Street. He married Ragna Pauluda, recently of Norway, about 1909, and practiced medicine on Cass Street in Detroit, where he was named Curt Joseph Kirch by the 1910 census taker. Soon, this “Kirch” publishes a 21-page essay, “Der Holländisch-Deutsche zweig der Familie Washington und einige Washington-Dokuments” in the 1912 Jahrbuch Der Deutsche-amerikanischen Historischen Gesellschaft Von Illinois, (Vol. 12, Chicago, 1913). Largely a list of Washington family relatives with Dutch-German connections, the essay includes a letter from Martha Washington about a proposal for a Washington Monument. At about the same time, Curtis J. Kirch appears as editor of The Lantern: A Publication of Discarded Truth and Rejected Fiction. A Chicago product, it was edited with Milton Fuessle from January to July, 1913.

The migration from Kisch to Kirch to Guido Bruno was complete by the time the man reached Greenwich Village. His final name derived from the first names of his two brothers. Guido Kisch (1889-1985), was a professor of legal history at the University of Leipzig, Hebrew Union College in New York, and Basel University. Bruno Kisch (1890-1966) was a cardiologist who studied at the University of Cologne and worked at Yeshiva University in New York, studied the electron microscope at Yale, and retired to Bad Nauheim, Germany. Guido Bruno, however, never forgot his original name: his World War I draft registration card bears the following: Name—Guido Bruno; legal name—Josef Kurt Kisch, all in his own handwriting.

Post-Village, Bruno wrote for Pearson’s Magazine and continued to publish his own work, notably Adventures in American Bookshops, Antique Stores, and Auction Houses (Detroit: Douglas Bookshop, 1922). This work bears evidence of the experienced bookman; it describes antiquarian booksellers and their shops in Chicago, Detroit, New York and Boston with understanding. Back in his garret days, he demonstrated the heart of a bookman with an exhibition of European and American bookplates, supplemented by his talk on the romance of the bookplate. He owned the Union Square Bookshop at 30 E. 14th Street in New York in 1929 when he was underbidder to Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach’s $2,500 for Articles of Agreement: Made and Concluded . . . . Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin, 1733.

Bruno gradually moved out of range of  the Village, first to Pelham Manor in Westchester County, then to Lower Merion, Pennsylvania where his adopted daughter, Eleanore, owned the American Autograph Shop in Marion Station. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1928 and registered for the World War II draft. The New York Times reported on January 27, 1943:

Bruno, Guido. Author, publisher, editor, journalist and historian [died s]uddenly, aged 58, at his daughter’s home in Merion, PA., leaving his widow, Ragna Bruno; daughter, Eleanore, and [her] son, Ragnar. Interment private.

January 19, 2012

Jacob Abbott, Children’s Book Author

Jacob Abbott

Jacob Abbott (1803-1879) graduated from Bowdoin College, pursued ministerial studies at Andover-Newton, taught mathematics at Amherst, and founded the Mount Vernon School for girls in Boston. He was the author of more than 180 books for young people. His many series included three from which copies survive in Moore’s library: the Rollo books about a young boy with a feisty personality and enough naughtiness to give his parents ample opportunity for correction; The Franconia Stories, about a brother and sister schooled by their mother; and Historical Biographies. Considered among the first serious books for children, Abbott’s works offered language adult enough to foster intellectual inquiry and development along with examples of stout moral rectitude.

Moore’s published comments on Abbott’s books suggest that she had internalized some of their elements. For example, in reviewing George Moore’s Conversations in Ebury Street she wrote: “[Moore’s writing recalls] some of Jacob Abbott’s most dramatically lifelike colloquies. . . .” (Complete Prose, 103); and when asked “What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?” she replied: “Beechnut, Grimkie, Florence and John and the Rollo books, by Jacob Abbott.” (Complete Prose, 670).

Rollo in Paris

The books that remain in her library at the Rosenbach Museum & Library are:

From the Rollo Series:

Rollo in Paris. NY: Mershon, 1858

From the Franconia Stories:

Beechnut. NY: Harper’s, 1878

Rudolphus. NY: Harper and Brothers, 1852

The entire series of the Florence Stories:

The English Channel.  NY: Sheldon, 1868

Excursion to the Orkney Islands.  NY: Sheldon, 1868

Florence and John.  NY: Sheldon, 1869

Florence’s return.  NY: Sheldon,1869

Grimkie. NY: Sheldon, 1868

Visit to the Isle of Wight. NY:  Sheldon, 1869

From the Historical Biographies Series:

History of Alexander the Great. NY: Harpers, 1870

History of Cyrus the Great. NY: Harper and Brothers, 1850

Histories of Xerxes the Great. NY: Harper and Brothers, 1854.

The texts of Abbott’s books are available online through googlebooks,, and Project Gutenberg.

November 29, 2010

Ellen Thayer, Bryn Mawr Friend, Dial Colleague

The Dial Office (today) Built 1846

When Moore was a sophomore at Bryn Mawr, she occasionally wrote home about her friendship with Ellen Thayer: that she planned to take her to a dance and composed a Valentine verse for her (SL p. 24), that she took tea with classmates including Ellen (SL p. 27). Thayer graduated with a degree in Latin and French in 1907, two years ahead of Moore.  In 1925, Ellen became Assistant Editor at The Dial, the same year Moore became Editor. The two women worked closely together until the magazine’s demise in 1929.

Ellen (1885-1971) was the daughter of Albert Smith Thayer (1854-1942). His siblings were Ernest Lawrence Thayer (1863-1940), famous as the author of “Casey at the Bat,” Ellen Olive Thayer (1861-1932), later Mrs. Samuel H. Clary, and Edward Darling Thayer (1856-1907), father of Scofield Thayer, founder of The Dial. The Thayer patriarch Edward Davis Thayer owned woolen mills in various Massachusetts towns, sources of great wealth. His son Edward continued to manage the mills without his siblings.

Albert Thayer graduated from Harvard, as did his father and brothers, and became a real estate lawyer, practicing in New York City. He married Josephine Ely and they had two daughters, Ellen, born December 15, 1885, and Lucy Ely, born November 9, 1887, in Flushing, Long Island. Both girls attended Flushing Seminary, a girls’ boarding school.

After Bryn Mawr, Ellen spent the years 1909-11 at the Sorbonne, taught French at Wolf Hall, in Denver, for the next two years, and after some time abroad, taught at the Phoebe Ann Thorne

The Dial Garden (Today)

Model School in Bryn Mawr. At the same time, she served as “Reader in French” at Bryn Mawr, 1916-1916. The next year she matriculated for an advanced degree in English at Johns Hopkins, switching to French in 1918. By 1920, she was working as a governess in the home of Milton and Mildred Gundersheimer in Baltimore, presumably in charge of their daughter Jane, age seven.

While in Baltimore, Ellen met Hildegard Nagel, a native of St. Louis working on her degree in social work at Hopkins. They became lifelong companions. Hildegard (1886-1985) was the daughter of Fannie Brandeis (sister of Justice Louis Brandeis) and Charles Nagel, Secretary of Commerce and Labor under President Taft (1909-12), and Hildegard, having finished her schooling at Bennett College in Millbrook, New York, became part of the social set in the capitol, attending parties with Helen Taft, the president’s debutante daughter.  Nagel went on to a career as a psychiatric social worker in New York, a founding member of the Analytical Psychology Club of New York, a student and translator of Carl G. Jung, and a prolific translator of German works, largely in the field of psychology.

In 1925 Ellen and Hildegard lived at (or at least gave as their address on a ship’s manifest as) 152 W. 13th Street, the building that housed The Dial. Both women translated essays and reviews for the magazine, prompting Moore to recall that “foreign letter translations- -unsigned in accordance with Dial practice –should make the ghost of the magazine intensively apologetic to . . . Ellen Thayer and Hildegard Nagel” (Nicholas Joost, Scofield Thayer and The Dial (1964) p. 186). Ellen joined Hildegard in the Analytical Psychology Club of New York, an organizations of Jung enthusiasts, attended Jungian conferences in Switzerland, and assisted in translations of Jung’s work. She was present in 1937 when Jung delivered to the Club his lectures that became Psychology and Alchemy.

Moore and Thayer kept in touch over the years. They attended Four Saints in Three Acts together in 1934. In 1954, Moore inscribed a copy of her translation of The Fables of La Fontaine to her. Moore and Norvelle and Frances Brown ran into Ellen and Hildegard at Stonehenge during a 1965 trip. No doubt there were many more encounters than survive in the published correspondence.

October 5, 2010

Announcement: Chaplain John Warner Moore, USN

To the right is a new PAGE outlining the illustrious career of Marianne’s brother, Navy Chaplain from 1917 to 1947. Note: Click to enlarge most photographs.

Photograph by Alcide Picard, ca, 1927. Original at the Rosenbach Museum and Library, Marianne Moore Collection.

September 27, 2010

George Plank, Artist and Illustrator

George Wolfe Plank, the American illustrator and designer of magazine covers, was born on March 25, 1883, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Growing up, he lived for a time in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, about six blocks from the Moore household. A self-taught artist, he worked in factories and department stores before moving to Philadelphia about 1907. In 1911, he was hired by Vogue and continued to supply illustrations and cover designs for the magazine until 1936. So popular was his fashion illustration that for a benefit for the Loomis Sanitarium, given at the Waldorf in New York, society matrons posed in tableaux vivants based on his Vogue covers.

Vogue Cover, November 1917

Vogue Cover, April 1916

Vogue Cover, November 1915

In 1914, Plank moved to England with his Philadelphia friends, James and Mildred Whitall. (James, a Quaker and wealthy scion of the Whitall Tatum Glass Company, was related to M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr when Moore was there). Plank’s gift for friendship enabled him to move easily in all ranks of London society and his artistic talents were in great demand.

H. D.'s Hedgehog He drew illustrations for his friends’ books, including E. F. Benson’s The Freaks of Mayfair in 1916, Dorothy Wellesley’s Genesis in 1926 (Lady Gerald Wellesley, Dutchess of Wellington, friend of Yeats and the Sackvilles), Whitall’s English Years in 1832, H.D.’s Hedgehog and Marianne Moore’s The Pangolin and Other Verse in 1936.

The Pangolin and Other Verse

For Louis Untermeyer’s Food and Drink (1932), he drew one hundred “good things to eat and drink.” He also supplemented his Vogue income by designing costumes, sets, and programs for Edith Craig’s productions (Edith was the daughter of Ellen Terry and Edward W. Godwin, and sister of Gordon Craig); painting posters for the Red Cross during the First World War; designing chintz cloth and interior decorations for Lady Sackville, mother of Vita Sackville-West; and designing stationery and bookplates for H.D., Lady Carter, and Pauline Pappenheim, and many others. In 1936, Bryher hired him to illustrate Moore’s A Pangolin and Other Verse published by her Brendin Press. He even completed two royal commissions, including a map of South America in 1918, showing the Queen’s Needlework Guilds and, in 1921, the King’s bedroom for a dollhouse designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary.

King's Bedroom, Queen Mary's Dollhouse

In 1927, Lutyens designed and built a house, Marvells, for Plank in Five Acres, Sussex, where he resided for the rest of his life. During World War II, Plank joined the Home Guard and nearly died of hyperthyroidism. He was naturalized as an Englishman in 1945 and spent the rest of his days gardening at his house, Marvells. George Plank died in his sleep on May 4, 1965 in a nearby nursing home.

Note: This text is adapted from the Beinecke Library, Yale University, Finding Aid for the Papers of George Wolfe Plank housed in the library.

April 9, 2010

Sound Mind and Sound Body at Bryn Mawr

Filed under: Biographical Essays — by moore123 @ 12:47 pm
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Constance Applebee. 1873-1981

British born Constance Applebee graduated from the British College of Physical Education. When she came to Harvard to take a summer course, classmates asked her to demonstrate field hockey, then popular in England. She soon became Director of Aathletics at Vassar and she traveled among women’s colleges introducing the sport.

In 1904, M. Carey Thomas appointed Constance Applebee Athletic Director at Bryn Mawr College. Many “scientists” of the era thought that women were too frail for active sports or–worse–that vigorous physical activity endangered their reproductive ability. Miss Applebee, in establishing the school’s Department of Health, is said to have told President Thomas: “You want all these students to go out and do something in the world, to get the vote. What’s the good of their having the vote if they’re too ill to use it?”

Moore, of course, played field hockey and underwent all the other strenuous athletic assignments Applebee demanded (tennis was the sport that stuck). But Applebee did not limit her advice to the athletic field. In a letter home of February 21, 1909, Moore says that Applebee gave her a book to read, a kind of manual for success that advocated memory training and bemoaned  “vagueness” and lauded “docility and initiative” and memory training.

The book was Rational Living: Some Practical Inferences from Modern Psychology by Henry Churchill King (New York: Macmillan, 1908).  Chapter VII, “The Unity of the Mind: Suggestions for Living,” has this to say: “Among the intellectual hindrances to character, there should be named one special effect of intellectual vagueness. It is intellectual vagueness, I believe, which gives the chief danger to many forms of temptation.” (p. 130).

And concerning Josiah Royce’s promoting docility and initiative: “[Royce says:} ‘The sort of mental initiative which is especially in question in the present discussion is that which appears when already acquired, and intelligent habits are decidedly altered, or are decidedly recombined, in such fashion as to bring to pass the novel readjustment to our environment.’ This is the recognition of “critical points” in our development. Now, our mental life and growth manifestly require both docility and initiative; each must have its due place and recognition.” (p. 34)

Churchill exalts memory training: “But the most direct intellectual help to a wise conduct of life comes from clearness and definiteness in memory, imagination, and thinking. To remember with distinctness the entire and exact consequences of previous experiences, to be able to set before oneself with vivid and detailed imagination even the remote results of the action now contemplated—this is to be able to call to one’s aid the strongest motives to righteousness.”

“Vagueness” is of interest to Moore’s readers since it was a theme of her English professors’ lamentations about her prose and is perhaps not far from her later “obsurity.” Docility and initiative and give the reader of Moore’s early poems that take critical stances much to ponder. Memory training certainly served the poet well, at least as an aid to observation.

But as Moore concludes in her letter, in the words of philosophy professor Thedore De Laguna, Churchill is “a little pious.” Moore was studying with De Laguna that semester and taking psychology as well.

April 2, 2010

Transportation in the Cumberland Valley

Filed under: Biographical Essays — by moore123 @ 6:13 pm
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Cumberland Valley Rail Line

When Moore was growing up in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, before automobiles were common, the rail line above was Moore’s gateway to Harrisburg, less than 20 miles away, and from there to Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr on the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was also the route to family in Hagerstown, Greencastle, and even to the dentist in Baltimore.

Carlisle Train Station, early 1930s

The station building was built in the 19th Century and was the one used by the Moores when they left home. It was on West Pitt Street, a few blocks from where the Moore family lived at 343 N. Hanover Street.

This postcard is from a series of images of Carlisle which will appear here from time to time.

March 6, 2010

Tricorne Hats

Frances Perkins, left, with Mary W. Dewson of the Social Security Administration, January, 1938.

“Fannie Coralie Perkins knew by the age of ten that she would never be a conventional beauty. . . . Her mother, Susan Bean Perkins, delivered the message when she took her daughter shopping for a hat. . . . [She] passed by the pretty hats and pointed instead to a simple three-cornered tricorn style, similar to the ones worn by Revolutionary War soldiers.

“There, my dear, that is your hat. . . .

“The hat would come to symbolize the plain, sturdy and dependable woman who became Francis Perkins,” Secretary of Labor under Franklin Roosevelt and the first female member of the Cabinet.

Perkins graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1902; this incident dates from about 1890.

from Kirstin Downey. The Woman behind the New Deal: The Life of Francis Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2009, p. 5.

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