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