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Mina Loy papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 6
Scope and Contents
The Mina Loy Papers contain prose, poetry, drawings, designs, and copyright inventions documenting the life of modernist poet and artist Mina Loy. The papers span the dates 1914-1960.

Series I, Writings , begins with four boxes of drafts of six unpublished autobiographical novels based upon Loy's childhood in England, her student days in Germany, and her literary and art career in France and Italy. The novels are alphabetically arranged by title and their subject matter often overlaps.

Loy's childhood is the subject of three of the novels: "Goy Israels," "The Child and the Parent," and "Islands in the Air." Composed largely of fragments, "Goy Israels" probably represented Loy's first attempt to write about her stormy relationship with her family and her art school days in England. Loy, as the principal character "Goy Israels," discusses love, sex, marriage, and her Jewish identity. "The Child and the Parent," a title supplied from a fragment in the papers (Box 1, folder 10), may be an early version of "Islands in the Air." It covers Loy's life from childhood through marriage and motherhood. "Islands" ends with Loy's student days in Munich. The protagonists are "Ada" in "The Child" and "Linda" in "Islands," yet many of the chapters have similar titles and content, such as "Arrival on the Scene of an Accident" in "The Child" and "Accident" in "Islands" (Box 1, folder 12 and Box 4, folder 61). The oppression of women is the subject of chapter nine in both books.

"Esau Penfold," an unfinished work, is probably based upon Loy's early days in Florence with Haweis. In the second chapter, "Esau" and "Ova," the two primary characters, meet "Geronimo," a Futurist like Papini. Three caricatures accompany the novel and may be of Haweis.

Loy's subsequent affairs with Marinetti and Papini provide the focus of "Brontolivido," a novel set in Italy that portrays the two "Flabbergusts," "Brontolivido" and "Johannes," and their relationship with "Jemima." The material is arranged alphabetically by title or subject.

The last novel, "Insel," is loosely based upon Loy's friendship with the Surrealist painter and drug addict, Richard Oelze, during the 1930s in Paris and may have been written as a continuation of "Islands in the Air." It would logically follow "Colossus," a work about Loy's travels in Mexico with Cravan, which is not found in the papers.

Loy's poetry is housed in Box 5 and is divided into drafts published in The Last Lunar Baedeker and other drafts not included in The Last Lunar Baedeker. The poems are arranged by title and were primarily written in the 1940s. Many poems are about the United States, which she became a citizen of in 1946, including "American * a Miracle" and "Hot Cross Bum," about the "blowsy angels" who were her derelict neighbors in the Bowery from 1949-53. Some of Loy's headings are different from the published version: "There Is No Love Alone," for instance, is entitled "Amor" on the manuscript. Many poems are also annotated with pencil sketches.

Some of the most significant other poems are "Biography of Songge Byrd," about Isadora Duncan (Box 5, folder 130) and "Esau Penfold," a free verse biography of Stephen Haweis. She also wrote a prose version of "I Almost Saw God in the Metro" entitled "A Hard Luck Story" (Box 6, folder 157). The poetry section includes reviews of Lunar Baedecker by Harriet Monroe and Yvor Winters, who described Loy's poems as "images that have frozen into epigrams." (Dial, 1926).

The series of Loy's Writings is completed in Box 6 with a collection of her shorter works, most of which were not published during her lifetime, except for "Aphorisms on Futurism" (Camera Work, 1914) and a play that mocks insincere disciples of art called "The Pamperers" (Dial, 1920). "Sacred Prostitute," an experimental play, satirizes the Futurist male attitudes toward women. Another parody, "Pazzerella," is a spoof of Papini's work. Her short stories are often autobiographical: "Hush Money," for example, is about the death of her father. The essays reflect her longstanding interest in religion, literature, and art. "Phenomenon in American Art," for instance, is about Joseph Cornell, an artist friend from New York. The collection also contains some early attempts at fairy tales, such as "Crocodile Without Any Tail" and even a ballet, "Crystal Pantomime."

Series II, Other Papers , housed in Box 7, contains drawings and notes. Her drawings include fashion designs, a collage, and more than a dozen unidentified portraits in pencil and wash. A collection of copyright inventions include a corselet or armour for the body to correct "middle-age figure curvature," a stage set for the lyrical line "coloured folk have the moon in their eyes," and a valentine that ticks. There is one lampshade design decorated with an airplane.

Five folders of notes complete the papers. On Jews she wrote, "When the gentile world required a Saviour they nailed up the Christ, when it required a second Saviour to counteract the effects of the first, Freud was at its service." As might be expected, her other subjects include metaphysics, literature, and observations on artists such as "the aesthetic acrobat, Picasso."
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.

Box 8: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Conditions Governing Use
The Mina Loy Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Mina Loy Papers were donated to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library by Loy's daughter, Joella Haweis Bayer, in 1974 and 1975. Additional materials were donated by Mina Loy's grandson, Jonathan Bayer, in 2009.
Associated Materials
Carolyn Burke Collection on Mina Loy and Lee Miller (YCAL MSS 778). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
4.25 Linear Feet (8 boxes)
Related Names
Loy, Mina
Language of Materials