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Jordan, Viola Baxter, 1887-1973



  • Existence: 1887 - 1973


Viola Scott Baxter was born on March 15, 1887 in Utica, New York. In 1905 her mother urged her to attend a dance at Hamilton College, suggesting that she "might meet her Prince Charming." At that dance, the eighteen year old Viola was introduced to Ezra Pound and began a fifty-year friendship with him, mostly conducted via correspondence. Pound, in turn, introduced her to his former sweetheart Hilda Doolittle, and later to the poet William Carlos Williams, whom she dated for a time in 1907-08 and who also became a lifelong friend and correspondent.

Viola, who did not attend college, married the political economist Virgil Jordan in Utica in September 1914. The couple had three children, but were divorced in the mid-1920s. Viola received a small amount of alimony and child support and raised the children in Tenafly, New Jersey. She continued her correspondences with her old friends, reporting to H.D. and Pound about her occasional visits with the Williams family and sending them news of political events and popular culture, astrological speculations, and pointed comments on her daily life as a suburban housewife. Pound stayed at her home for two weeks during his visit to the U.S. in 1939, confiding in her about his domestic situation and showing her photographs of Mary, his daughter by the violinist Olga Rudge.

While Viola was completely cut off from contact with Pound after the American declaration of war on Italy in 1941, she remained in close touch with H.D. and her companion Bryher. In addition to sending them news about their friends in the U.S., she frequently sent cigarettes, stockings, and other small luxuries that were difficult to obtain during the war in Britain.

Although she disapproved of Pound's politics, she was dismayed to learn of his indictment for treason and his confinement at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, and wrote to him affectionately throughout his years there, sending him many packages of baked goods, jam, and candy. She and her children visited Pound and his wife Dorothy during the 1950s.

Severe arthritis and general ill-health curtailed her ability to correspond in her later years, and she lived quietly with her daughter Barbara in Harrington Park, New Jersey, where she died on November 26, 1973.

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

Bryher papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 97
Abstract: The papers document the personal life and literary career of Bryher. Her extensive correspondence includes letters from H. D., Robert MacAlmon, Kenneth MacPherson, Norman Holmes Pearson, Sylvia Beach, Norman Douglas, Horace Gregory, Islay Lyons, and Edith Sitwell, and from many other figures in the fields of literature, psychoanalysis, and film. There are manuscripts of many of her works, including fragments of an unpublished volume of autobiography; financial and personal papers;...
Dates: 1812-1980, bulk 1911-1978

H. D. Papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 24
Abstract: The papers document the personal life and literary career of H. D. Major correspondents include Richard Aldington, Bryher, Helen Wolle Doolittle, Robert McAlmon, Brigit Patmore, Norman Holmes Pearson, George Plank, and Ezra Pound. There are manuscripts of many of her works, including Her (1927), The Walls Do Not Fall (1944), Helen in Egypt (1961), and her memoir End to Torment (1958). The collection also contains personal papers, subject files, and photographs, including items related to the...
Dates: 1887-1977

Viola Baxter Jordan papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 175
Abstract: The collection contains letters to Jordan from Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, H.D. and Bryher, as well as manuscripts of poems by Pound and Williams and a small quantity of personal papers. Subjects of the Pound letters include personal and family news; his writing and the literary world in general; his political and economic opinions; and his confinement at St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Letters from Williams discuss relationships between men and women; poetry; and arrangements for social...
Dates: 1905-1951

Ezra Pound Papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 43

The Ezra Pound Papers document the literary career and political interests of Ezra Pound. Major correspondents include Richard Aldington, George Antheil, William Bird, T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, James Laughlin, Wyndham Lewis, Marianne Moore, Odon Por, and Henry Swabey. The collection contains manuscripts of many of Pound's works, including the Cantos, Guide to Kulchur, and scripts of Pound's wartime radio broadcasts.

Dates: 1868-1976

Olga Rudge Papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 54
Abstract: The Olga Rudge Papers document many aspects of Rudge's personal life and professional activities. There are 32 boxes of letters between Ezra Pound and Rudge. Other major correspondents include Mary de Rachewiltz, James Laughlin, George Antheil, Renata Borgatti, conte Guido Chigi Saracini, Cyril Connolly, T. S. Eliot, Egerton Grey, Desmond O'Grady, D. D. Paige, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Dorothy Pound, and Adrian Stokes. The papers also contain daily notebooks kept by Rudge from 1966 on; a variety...
Dates: 1887-1989