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Thursday, 26 April 2018

Typewriters at The MacDowell Colony, 1948

American poet, critic, editor and journalist Amalie (Amy) Bonner was snapped typing on her Underwood faux woodgrain portable when LIFE magazine's famed Fort Dodge, Iowa-born photographer Robert Wayne Kelley (1920-1991) visited The MacDowell Colony artists' retreat in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in July 1948. Kelley's picture spread, headlined "Life visits the MacDowell Colony", appeared in the August 23, 1948, edition of the magazine. The caption under the image of Bonner said she wrote poetry during the morning then served as the colony's librarian to pay for her keep at the retreat. The library contained more than 200 books written by authors who had stayed at The MacDowell Colony, LIFE reported.
Amy Bonner (left as a young woman, and right) was born to a Romanian father and Austrian mother in New York City on February 7, 1891, and grew up in Brooklyn and later lived in Manhattan. A journalist, she reviewed books of verse for the World-Telegram and The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and also worked on the staff of The New York Evening Post. She wrote poetry which appeared in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, starting in 1921. From 1937-47 she served as Poetry’s eastern business representative. She died on December 26, 1955, aged 64
Kelley also photographed Irish authors Mary and Padraic Colum working together of their book Our Friend James Joyce, which wasn't published until 10 years later, in 1958, the year after Mary's death. The couple is using a Remington Noiseless portable.
Mary Gunning Colum (née Maguire) was born on June 15, 1884, in Collooney, County Sligo. Her mother died in 1895, leaving her to be reared by her grandmother Catherine in Ballisodare, Sligo. Mary attended boarding school in Monaghan and went on to University College, Dublin, where she meet W. B. Yeats and founded the Twilight Literary Society and co-founded The Irish Review with her future husband. She married Padraic Colum in July 1912, and they moved to New York in 1914. The couple spent 1930-33 in Paris and Nice, during which time Mary got to know James Joyce and his family and Padraic became involved in the transcription of Finnegans Wake. Mary served as the literary editor of The Forum magazine from 1933–41 and taught comparative literature with Padraic at Columbia and the University City College of New York from 1941. In middle age she was encouraged to return to writing, and became established as a literary generalist in American journals, including Poetry, Scribner's, The Nation, The New Republic, Freeman, The New York Times Review of Books, The Saturday Review of Books and The Tribune. Mary died on October 22, 1957, in New York City.
Padraic Colum was born in Columcille, County Londford, on December 8, 1881. He was a poet, novelist, dramatist, biographer, playwright, children's author and collector of folklore and one of the leading figures of the Irish Literary Revival. In the early part of the 20th Century he started to write and met a number of the leading Irish writers of the time, including Yeats, Lady Gregory and George William Russell. He also joined the Gaelic League and was a member of the first board of the Abbey Theatre. He became a regular user of the National Library of Ireland, where he met Joyce and the two became lifelong friends. He collected Irish folk songs, and sometimes rewrote them almost in their entirety, including the famous She Moved Through the Fair. He was awarded a prize by Cumann na nGaedheal for his anti-enlistment play, The Saxon Shillin'. His earliest published poems appeared in The United Irishman, a newspaper edited by Arthur Griffith. In America, Colum took up children's writing. At the suggestion of Dr Pádraic Whyte (School of English, Trinity College Dublin) a first edition of Colum's first volume (At the Gateways of the Day) was presented to US President Barack Obama by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the occasion of Obama's visit to Dublin in 2011. Padraic Colum died in Enfield, Connecticut, on January 11, 1972, aged 90.
I guess Kelley felt he couldn't just take a whole series of shots of authors at their typewriters, so with the novelist Nancy Wilson Ross (1901-86, right) he caught the Olympia, Washington native feeding a chipmunk a peanut butter sandwich from her studio porch. Ross was working on I, My Ancestor at the time. Ross was also an authority on Eastern religions. Other writers at The MacDowell Colony at the time Kelley visited were Willa Cather, Thornton Wilder, Elinor Wylie, Edwin Arlington Robinson and Stephen Vincent Benét (below).
The MacDowell Colony,  now 32 studios scattered over 450 acres, was founded in 1907 by Marian MacDowell, pianist and wife of composer Edward MacDowell. She established the institution and its endowment chiefly with donated funds. The mission of the colony is to nurture the arts by offering creative individuals of the highest talent an inspiring environment in which they can produce enduring works of the imagination. Over the years, an estimated 7700 artists have been supported in residence, including the winners of at least 79 Pulitzer Prizes, 781 Guggenheim Fellowships, 100 Rome Prizes, 30 National Book Awards, 26 Tony Awards, 24 MacArthur Fellowships, 9 Grammys, 8 Oscars and 8 National Medals for the Arts. The colony has accepted visual and interdisciplinary artists, architects, filmmakers, composers, playwrights, poets and writers. Wilder wrote Our Town and The Bridge of San Luis Rey there, and Cather wrote Death Comes for the Archbishop
Kelley's image of Marian MacDowell as used in the LIFE spread.
In 1896, Marian Griswold Nevins MacDowell (1857-1956) bought Hillcrest Farm in Peterborough as a summer residence for herself and her husband. The couple formulated a plan to provide an interdisciplinary experience in a nurturing landscape, by creating an institutionalised residential art colony in the area. Edward MacDowell died in 1908, the year after Marian MacDowell had deeded their farm to the Edward MacDowell Association and founded the non-profit organisation The MacDowell Colony. 


Bill M said...

More Writers and Their Typewriters for Richard P. I learned of a few more people I've not heard of before. The room in the first and fifth photos look like wonderful places to think and type.

Johnpyyc said...

Robert - you are doing amazing and fascinating research, thank you.