Marianne Moore: Poetry

December 8, 2010

“He Wrote the History Book” and Taught at Bryn Mawr

During her second semester at Bryn Mawr, Moore spent an afternoon skating with her friends and some faculty children.  Among the latter was the son of Evangeline and Charles McLean Andrews who said “I am John Andrews. My father wrote the English History” (Letter to Mary and John Warner Moore, February 11, [1906], Rosenbach). With the substitution of just three words, this statement became the footnote to “’He Wrote the History Book” when it appeared in Observations. Moore finished the poem in early, 1916, just ten years after its inspiration, and first published it in The Egoist (5.3 May 1, 1916. 71).

In the fall of 1906, as a sophomore, Moore took Charles M. Andrews’s course in Medieval History. In letters home she noted that his course was difficult but that she wished she could do more advanced work with him (13 November), that Andrews had written on her paper that she should “try to express yourself more clearly and accurately” (11 December), a refrain echoed by other teachers, and that  Andrews was the “’biggest’” professor she had yet encountered (13 November). By “biggest” she meant the most professionally accomplished.

Andrews did indeed write the “English History book:” A History of England, Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1903, was a textbook for American

History of England

schools and colleges. However, his chief accomplishments lay in American history, particularly of the colonial period. The following short biography has been adapted from Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2004.

Charles McLean Andrews was born in Wethersfield, Conn., on Feb. 22, 1863. He graduated from Trinity College in 1884 pursued graduate studies at Johns Hopkins. There he worked under Herbert B. Adams, a leading figure in the movement to professionalize history.

Andrews took his first teaching position at Bryn Mawr in 1889. He married Evangeline Walker in 1895 and continued to teach at Bryn Mawr, taking a leave sponsored by the Carnegie Institution in 1903-1904 to work on a guide to manuscripts in the British Museum. In 1904 he saw publication of his Colonial Self-Government, 1652-1689. By 1907 Andrews’s reputation was such that he was asked by Johns Hopkins to fill Adams’s chair. He moved to Johns Hopkins and published with Francis G. Davenport the Guide to the Manuscript Materials for the History of the United States to 1783 in the British Museum and Other Depositories (1908).

In 1910, Andrews moved to Yale to become professor of American history, edit the Yale Historical Series, and teach graduate courses in American colonial history. In 1912 another of his works, The Colonial Period, appeared. He became president of the American Historical Association. In 1925 His Colonial Background of the American Revolution (1924), regarded as one of his best books, maintains that an understanding of British colonial policy is essential to understanding the American Revolution. The next year Andrews became president of the association.

After his retirement from Yale in 1931, Andrews continued to labor on his final major work, The Colonial Period of American History (4 vols., 1934-1938), the first volume of which won a Pulitzer Prize. He died on Sept. 9, 1943.

John Williams Andrews was about seven when he pronounced on his father’s success. He and his parents left Bryn Mawr in the fall of 1907 and by the time John was ten, his father had moved to Yale. John attended the Taft School and Yale College where he was an editor of The Yale Book of Student Verse ((1919) with Stephen Vincent Benét and John Chipman Farrar. After college he worked as a journalist in China and New Haven, attended Yale Law School, and joined the New York law firm Root, Clark Buckner & Ballantine. In 1940 he moved to the United States Justice Department as chief of the Federal-State Relations Section, and later served as a trial attorney in the anti-Trust Division. He later turned to a career in public relations. He became editor of  the quarterly journal Post Lore. In 1963 he was co-recipient of the Robert Frost Poetry Award and edited Literary Quarterly.  The John Williams Andrews Narrative Poetry Prize was offered by Poet Lore in his honor. His books include Prelude to Icaros (Farrar & Rinehart  1936), Hill Country North (Branden Press, 1965), The Story of Flying (Robert J. Tyndall, 1968), and Triptych for the Atomic Age (Branden Press, 1970).

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.

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