Skip to main content

McAlmon, Robert, 1896-1956



  • Existence: 1895-03-09 - 1956-02-02


Robert McAlmon, American author, was born in Kansas, one of ten children of an itinerant minister, and raised in several Midwestern states. After a brief stay in Chicago, where he met Emanuel Carnevali, he moved to New York in 1920 and quickly joined the literary circle active in Greenwich Village. With his friend William Carlos Williams, he founded Contact magazine; its four issues published work by Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Glenway Wescott, and H. D.

It was through H. D. that McAlmon met and married her lover, the shipping heiress Annie Winifred Ellerman, who published under the name "Bryher." Their 1921 marriage inspired much gossip concerning McAlmon's own sexual preferences and Bryher's financial support of him: some referred to him as "Robert McAlimony." In the following year, McAlmon moved to Paris and founded the influential Contact Editions press. Its publications included Hemingway's first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923), poetry collections by William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, and Marsden Hartley, and the first complete edition of Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans (1925). He also provided James Joyce with financial support and assisted in the revision and typing of the Penelope section of Ulysses.

McAlmon's own published works from this period include the critically praised short story collections The Hasty Bunch (1922) and Distinguished Air (1925); the experimental "plotless novel" Village (1924); and a collection of poetry, Portrait of a Generation (1926). The McAlmons divorced in 1925, and McAlmon left Paris in 1929, after closing Contact Editions. Throughout the next fifteen years, he traveled widely in the United States, Mexico and Europe, drinking heavily and publishing little. Not Alone Lost, a volume of poetry, was published by New Directions in 1937 and became its worst-selling title. His bitter memoir of Paris in the Twenties, Being Geniuses Together, appeared in Great Britain to little notice in 1938.

McAlmon returned to the United States following the occupation of France in 1940. In ill-health and out of money, he settled in Arizona, where he worked as a salesman in his brothers' surgical supply company. His tuberculosis worsened in 1951, and his sisters bought him a small house in Hot Springs, California, where he died on February 2, 1956.

Found in 11 Collections and/or Records:

William Bird Ezra Pound papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 178

Correspondence, writings, personal papers and musical compositions by Ezra Pound dating from his sojourn in Paris during the early 1920s.

Dates: 1900-1926

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

Marsden Hartley collection

Call Number: YCAL MSS 578
Abstract: The collection consists of writings, correspondence, photographs, and other materials documenting the personal and professional affairs of Modernist-era painter Marsden Hartley. Writings contain notes and drafts, autograph and typescript, for numerous writings, chiefly essays. Correspondence is spread out over the many groupings in the collection and features large files of outgoing letters to Norma Berger, Hartley's niece, Carl Sprinchorn, and Adelaide S. Kuntz, as well as incoming letters...
Dates: 1885-1978

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

Letters : to Edwin Lanham, 1936 January 6, 1937 February 1

 Part of Collection — Box 110: [Barcode: 39002140920886], Folder: 1
Call Number: YCAL MSS MISC
Scope and Contents:

Two typescript letters discussing McAlmon's recent trip to Mexico, his work and reading, and Hilaire Hiler. Accompanied by a dealer description.

Dates: 1936 January 6, 1937 February 1

Robert McAlmon papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 293

The Robert McAlmon Papers consist of letters to McAlmon from literary friends, including William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein; manuscripts of several of his writings; and a small quantity of photographs and related papers.

Dates: 1916-1980, bulk 1930-1952

Louise Morgan and Otto Theis papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 80

The papers document the literary and personal lives of Morgan and Theis, and contain correspondence, subject files, and professional papers related to the 20th century British literary world. There is correspondence regarding Evelyn Scott, and correspondence as well as poems by Nancy Cunard.

Dates: 1903-1983, bulk 1930-1960

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

Ezra Pound papers : addition

Call Number: YCAL MSS 53
Abstract: The Ezra Pound Papers Addition consists of material related to the life and career of the American poet Ezra Pound and includes correspondence, manuscripts, and a small quantity of personal papers and audiovisual materials. Correspondents include Homer and Isobel Pound, George Antheil, Basil Bunting, T. S. Eliot, James Laughlin, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Manuscripts inclue draft portions of The Cantos, autograph scores of Le Testament de Villon and...
Dates: 1862-1983, bulk 1960-1971

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 76
Abstract: The Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers contain manuscripts of writings, letters, clippings, photographs, artworks, and personal papers relating to the life and work of Gertrude Stein and her companion, Alice B. Toklas, and to Gertrude's brother, Leo Stein, an artist and writer. As well as holding the bulk of Stein's literary output (often described as "experimental" or "cubist" writing), the materials document Stein and Toklas' involvement with the literary and art...
Dates: 1837-1961