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Anna Strunsky Walling papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS 1111

Scope and Contents

The life of Anna Walling, an advocate of socialism and the cause of labor, was molded by three prominent socialists: Jack London, William English Walling, and Leonard Abbott. The papers of Anna Walling, acquired by the Yale University Library from Walling's family in 1980, are most significant for understanding Walling's relationships with these three men and for the picture of the radical or bohemian circle of friends that surrounded them in San Francisco, New York, England, and Russia. Since the papers came from the family they are uniquely rich in family material. Both incoming and outgoing letters are present for most family correspondents.

The Anna Strunsky Walling Papers are not a complete record of Anna Walling's life. Over the years Walling donated many of her Jack London materials to the Huntington Library. A large collection of William English Walling's papers is owned by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (These papers are also available on microfilm) Yet Anna Walling, or her family, retained many early family letters, both those written to her and those by her in which she described her life. Especially numerous in the papers are revealing letters to and from Leonard Abbott. The papers also include the diary and writer's idea books that Walling kept all her life.

The papers are now arranged in five series: I. CORRESPONDENCE OF ANNA WALLING, II. CORRESPONDENCE OF OTHERS, III. DIARIES AND WRITINGS, IV. MEMORABILIA, V. PHOTOGRAPHS.
This arrangement represents an order imposed on the papers during processing. Anna Walling's filing system, if any, was chaotic. The papers seem almost to have been shoveled into storage boxes, which were stored for many years on Cape Cod and exposed to sea air and vermin. After the papers were sorted nearly a quarter of the correspondence showed pages missing, and much of the collection is in deteriorating physical condition. Series I and II have been scheduled for microfilming, and when this has been completed researchers will be required to consult the film before using the original papers.

CORRESPONDENCE OF ANNA WALLING contains all incoming letters addressed to Anna Walling (ASW) and outgoing letters written by ASW. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient, and the series is the largest in the papers. Correspondence of selected individuals has been foldered and listed separately but general letter files also contain occasional letters from notable persons such as Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Zona Gale, Arnold Genthe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Raymond Ingersoll, Jesse Jackson, Vida Scudder, David Shannon, Irving Stone, Henrietta Szold, Norman Thomas, and Rabindranath Tagore. These general files are also studded with form letters and newsletters from liberal and radical organizations to which ASW belonged at the end of her life, eg. the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Massachusetts Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the Greenwich Village Peace Center.

Many of the names listed in this series are persons ASW numbered among her personal friends. Melville Anderson was her professor at Stanford. Gelette Burgess, Harry Cowell, Cameron King, Ray Nash, Jane Roulson and Gaylord Wilshire are friends from her California days. The correspondence with King shows an especially close relationship. When ASW left for Russia in 1905 King sent her news of her family. It was King who wrote at length to assure her that her family had survived the San Francisco earthquake, and his letters contain both verbal and pictorial descriptions of the damage. There is only one scrap of Jack London's own handwriting although there are several copies of London's letters, some of which are included inLetters from Jack London.

One of ASW's closest early friends was Katherine Maryson, who was a participant in New York's radical circles and was, like ASW, a Russian-Jewish immigrant. To her ASW was quite open about her feelings for Jack London, and the Maryson file is interesting because it contains ASW's original letters to Maryson as well as Maryson's responses. These letters are perhaps the best in the collection for understanding the curious Walling-London relationship. ASW also wrote her the details of her trips to Europe and Russia, mentioning the names of all the notables she had met and describing the progress of the "Revolution" as she saw it.

The list of selected files reveals the names of many people prominent in socialist or radical circles. Some were close friends, others slight acquaintances. The Wallings knew Rose Pastor Stokes (RPS) and her husband James Graham Phelps Stokes. For a time the couples lived in close proximity on Caritas Island. The Stokes correspondence is small in quantity but there are good letters filled with RPS's views on the schisms in political parties in the 1912 election and on her divorce from Stokes. There are more letters from Emma Goldman, but though they are usually addressed "Dear Anna" they are not personal in tone. They are full of the details of Goldman's organization of "movement" meetings and of her magazineMother Earth. Charles Edward Russell was another close friend. A few of his letters are written on Pro-Palestine Federation of America stationary but his letters never detail his activities. They are always affectionate communications signed "Uncle Charley". The Upton Sinclair correspondence dates from the end of ASW's life and contains merely fleeting recollections of an earlier friendship. The Wallings had been with the Hutchins Hapgoods in Paris, and there are a few personal letters to ASW from them in the files.

With Selig Perlman, the economist and scholar of U.S. labor history, the Wallings had a special relationship. William English Walling (WEW) had helped Perlman as a young immigrant. The correspondence contains two letters to ASW when Perlman was just getting started as a student of John R. Commons, and as a teacher at the University of Wisconsin. (Additional letters to WEW are filed in Series II.) The friendship continued after WEW's death, and in later years Perlman wrote ASW about his trips to Israel and his feelings about his Jewishness.

The Wallings witnessed the terrible race riot in Springfield, Illinois in 1908. This event supposedly motivated WEW to call a meeting of friends and acquaintances interested in improving race relations. Out of this meeting the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) emerged. ASW's letters mention nothing about either the riot or the founding of the NAACP. There are a few personal letters from Mary White Ovington concerning ASW's son and in one letter Ovington enclosed a copy of a letter from Charles Edward Russell in which he explains why he does not participate in the NAACP.

The files contain letters from many minor writers such as Weston McDaniel, Shaemas O'Sheel, and George Sterling, and from a second generation of Jack London admirers and scholars interested in going to first hand witnesses of the early 20th century radical movement. Vil Bykov, a Soviet writer, interviewed ASW about Jack London; Joseph Backus was doing research on Gelette Burgess; and John Whitcomb was interested in Rose Pastor Stokes.

The best source of biographical detail on ASW is contained in the correspondence files for members of her family and WEW's family. The early letters are full of ASW's undertakings but later letters reflect her growing introspectiveness and the drama of her family's relationships. At times this correspondence reads like a soap opera. The earliest letters are with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Eliaa Strunsky. There are a few letters concerning her engagement and marriage and later letters concerning the children. Unfortunately, many of these letters, especially those from Mrs. Strunsky, are written in Yiddish in a difficult hand.

There is much more correspondence with ASW's new in-laws, Rosalind and Willoughby Walling. ASW was very close to Rosalind Walling. It is through these letters that ASW's life from 1906-1930 can be pieced together. The joy of her love, the grief of her first two pregnancies, her feelings about the Anna Grünspan affair, the various household moves, the children's education and illnesses, and the family financial situation. Even some negative comments about WEW are in these letters. In the earlier letters ASW often comments on her circle of friends and acquaintances. In a February, 1911 letter she mourns the murder of David Graham Phelps and in November of that year the suicide of Kellogg Durland. A February 29, 1912 letter mentions a visit with Jack London, and an August, 1916 letter records the results of a conversation with Charlotte Perkins Gilman on "life" and children. In December, 1918 ASW writes of enjoying the Christmas season, "I have never had a Christmas tree, but I hope to trim a Christmas tree every remaining year of my life." In January, 1919 she writes of her father's business failure with the advent of Prohibition. The 1924 letters show much concern for personal finances and suggest economy measures such as letting the servants go and changing private schools for the children. At the same time, ASW mentions WEW's trip to Cleveland for the LaFollette Convention and his campaign for Congress from Connecticut on the Democratic ticket. In a January,1926 letter ASW describes a dinner she has given for the 80th birthday of Harriet Stanton Blatch.

The death of Rosalind Walling in 1930 ends this source for much of the day to day detail in ASW's life. ASW carried on a similar type of correspondence with her sister Rose Strunsky Lorwin after Rose's marriage in 1920. At first Rose and Louis Lorwin moved to Beloit, Wisconsin where Louis taught at Beloit College. Rose's letters are an interesting reflection of small town life as seen by transplanted city dwellers. In December, 1920, she asked ASW to send her magazines likeSoviet Russiasince Louis would not subscribe fearing to have his name on a subscription list in case of Red scare raids. Many of the letters between the sisters concern the problems of their children and aging parents. Rose and Louis traveled extensively in Europe. In 1936 there are interesting letters from Rose in Germany, but the detailed descriptions break off rather abruptly for Rose feared that bulky letters would be "suspect". In the 1940s and 1950s the sisters'. letters are full of their own infirmities. There are also details of ASW's trips to California and Europe.

The correspondence with William English Walling begins in 1905 with letters from WEW to Miss Strunsky describing his stay in Europe and his plans for his Russian trip, and urging her to come join him. In the following years, there are infrequent letters from ASW when WEW was absent from home, mainly giving details of the growing family. In a letter of January 30, 1914, she describes her own and the children's reaction to a visit with Jack London. During this period the papers contain few incoming WEW letters.

Following World War I WEW began to work closely with Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor. From January-March, 1919, the correspondence contains WEW's letters from his trips to Europe with Gompers. In England he visited with former Fabian Society friends and with British Socialist leader Henry Hyndman and in Paris with George D. Herron, a former Socialist, who like WEW had broken with the party during the war and who was serving now as a Wilson emissary, and with Adolphe Smith and Bohemian and Italian socialists.

In 1921 ASW herself went to Europe to be with her sister Rose whose scoliosis was causing a difficult pregnancy and fears for her delivery. Rose had chosen to go to Freiburg, Germany to be delivered by a new method of anesthesia known as "twilight sleep". ASW's letters to WEW in September and October are full of detail concerning German hospitals and maternity care. Her letter of October 6, 1921 describes minutely Rose's labor and the birth of her son Boris. (ASW would later write an article for McClure's on twilight sleep. See Box 32, folder 379.)

While ASW and the children lived in Paris during the winter of 1923 there were again many occasions for letters to WEW in New York, these containing the details of daily life. Here ASW also describes meetings with Anatole France and Charmian London. The 1924 file contains letters from WEW during the AFL Convention in El Paso, and the 1926-1927 file holds letters describing WEW's trip to Mexico on the Calles project. During the winter of 1928 WEW went to Havana. WEW's letters in these later years are sparse and usually concerned with finances, while ASW's letters are fairly constant. The letters from the summer of 1929 show obvious signs of the marriage in trouble though the final illness of Rosalind Walling in the summer of 1930 seemed to bring a temporary truce. In 1932 there are final breaking up letters and after that the files contain only a few scattered letters of ASW to WEW which are more interesting for the fact that they survive than for their content.

Following WEW's death in 1936 ASW and WEW's brother began work on a volume of tributes in his memory. The series contains occasional typed copies of letters, possibly those intended for publication and letters of condolence and reminiscences. Of interest are letters from George Watt, a boyhood friend of WEW.

ASW's correspondence from the 1930s on is primarily concerned with the lives of her children and grandchildren. Rosamond, the eldest, attended Swarthmore College where she became friendly with her near relative George Gershwin and some of his set. Her letters from college are full of youthful enthusiasm and the details of her social life. Shortly after graduation in 1932 she married Rifat Tirana, an Albanian working with the League of Nations in Geneva. The couple lived in Europe until the outbreak of World War II when they returned to Washington D.C. ASW's letters to Rosamond are full of motherly advice especially concerning nursing and child care for Turhan, Bardyl, and Ganni, her grandsons, Her November 12, 1940 letter does give her feelings about FDR, "Hitlerism", and her own socialism. ASW was closest to Rosamond and to her, more so than to her other children, she revealed her emotional upheavals over the marriage with WEW and her feelings for Leonard Abbott.

ASW's second daughter, Anna, Jr. also attended Swarthmore, but married before she finished school. There are not a great many letters to or from Anna, Jr. (Anna Matson) but in correspondence with other family members the soap opera quality of Anna Matson's life is revealed. The family did not approve of her early marriage to Norman Matson, a Catholic and a man twice her age who had gotten her pregnant. In a September 19, 1932 letter to Rosamond ASW writes that she hopes Anna won't marry and that now she doesn't think it a "heinous crime" for women to bring on miscarriages. Anna and Norman married on October 18, 1932, but the marriage continued to be fraught with financial difficulties and separations.

ASW's two other children also gave her cause for worry. Georgia who had married Dan Eastman, son of Max Eastman, later divorced him and had difficulty settling down to a career, flitting between acting and social work. Hayden moved from school to school but settled on no profession except building a place for himself on Cape Cod. During World War II he received a deferment as a farmer or teacher, but was truly a conscientious objector. After the war he worked for UNRRA in Italy and then for UNICEF in Paris. His correspondence with ASW tells something of his travels and years in Africa but is mainly filled with the strains of his relationships with his mother and three wives.

The extensive Leonard Abbott (LDA) correspondence contains many discussions of ASW's children's problems, but it is of more interest for those interested in Abbott's later life. There are Only a few letters before ASW's break with WEW, but after 1932 there is an almost constant interchange of feelings and ideas. In his letter of September 19, 1933, LDA discusses a meeting of the Bronx Free Fellowship trustees and their views of the struggles going on in the Socialist Party. In 1936 letters LDA discusses his precarious financial situation and his work writing travel guide books as part of a federally sponsored writer's project, and in a letter of December 30, 1937, he describes a meeting of Russian Jewish intelligentsia who were organizing to protest Stalin's purges. His letters 'show his continuing faith in pacifism even in the face of the progress of events in Europe. Many of his letters are introspective and reveal his alternating bouts of "melancholia and ecstasy." LDA's October 16, 1939 letter is interesting for his remarks about Jack London, the class struggle, and his willingness to work with non-Socialists like Franklin Roosevelt. His letters also contain news of his own children, Morris and Ellen. Morris, totally uninterested in any radical causes, served as a U.S. military officer during World War II. Many of LDA's later letters are punctuated with grief and sadness over the deaths of his friends and associates, and memories of earlier days. The correspondence concludes only with LDA's final illness. Some matters concerning his physical and financial situation in this last year, 1953, are also discussed in ASW's correspondence with Leonard White.

Since the Anna Walling Papers came from the family they included a large number of letters not addressed to or written by Anna Walling. These letters are arranged in Series II, CORRESPONDENCE OF OTHERS. They include some correspondence of WEW, his parents, Anna's sister Rose, the Walling children, and even some of Leonard Abbott. This series is arranged so as not to split any one person's incoming and outgoing letters. When family members are in correspondence with each other all incoming and outgoing correspondence between them will be found in the file of the correspondent named first on the list. All letters to or from WEW (not to or from ASW) come first.

The WEW correspondence with others is the most interesting and valuable in this series. There are many early letters to his parents describing his experiences at the Harvard Law School, his residency at the University Settlement in New York, his travels in Europe, and his time in Russia including his engagement and marriage to Miss Strunsky. The latter topic is also discussed in correspondence with Anna's parents (folder 258). In the letters to his parents, during and after World War I, he is more explicit about his work. On October 28., 1917, he wrote, "I have also been actively cooperating with George Creel and his governmental press bureau organized in Washington and also with Gomper's Alliance of Labor and Democracy formed to fight treason in the Labor Union and Socialist Party. Finally, I have taken a very active part, though quiet, in the campaign against Hillquit for Mayor of New York." These letters clearly show WEW's turn away from his radical colleagues. In the fall of 1922, with ASW and the children in Paris, he was working to bring the American Legion closer to the AFL, "They can more than counterbalance all out aliens, pacifists, and radicals. Already they are especially active in regard to the schools and in regard to radical propaganda." Letters to parents also outline the family financial situation.

The WEW files also contain good letters from Rose assessing the situation in Russia (1906) and describing the British General Strike (1911). The files provide some evidence concerning the suit of Anna Berthe Grunspan (folder 256), and the miscellaneous files (folders 279-281) include interesting letters from Hutchins Hapgood, Selig Perlman, George Creel, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Adolphe Smith on January 1, 1914, wrote an analysis of the relationships of the British socialists and their relations with the Labor Party. These miscellaneous letters are very scattered and probably reflect the nature of the fuller WEW correspondence at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

A few letters in the Rosalind and Willoughby Walling files (folders 282-284) reflect on WEW's life, though for the most part the files contain letters from grandchildren. There is a letter from WEW's headmaster and a [ca. 1901] letter from Willoughby describing WEW's mental state. A few letters from friends praise WEW's books.

Of note in the Rose Strunsky Lorwin files (folders 285-287) are her early letters from her trips to Russia and Finland written to her parents and brothers. These tell of all that she is seeing as well as of the ASW-WEW courtship. There is also an interesting letter from Jane Roulston in San Francisco writing about labor demonstrations, Bill Haywood, and the I.W.W. Of some interest also are a long letter from Hayden to his wife Liza in December, 1945 (folder 294) describing his work for UNRRA and a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Strunsky (folder 296) from Harriet Stanton Blatch following a party given in her honor by ASW.

DIARIES AND WRITINGS, Series III, contains over 100 volumes of diaries or writer's idea books, copies of published writings, and drafts and notes for unpublished writings. These types of material have been brought together in one series to illustrate the connection between ASW's diaries or idea books and her writings.

From the number of diary volumes it seems probable that ASW always kept some kind of notebook with her to jot down her ideas and feelings. The volumes are arranged more or less chronologically, the numbers being assigned by the archives staff. The dates of the volumes overlap; some cover a long period of time, others only part of a year. Volumes were used perhaps only at one location, ie. a summer house, and not used again until ASW returned to that location.

The volumes cover almost her entire life, but the most interesting volumes are the early ones, especially #3 and #4, written during ASW's Russian journey. Some of the early ones also contain notes and outlines for stories, but for the most part the diaries contain her outbursts of emotion at times of family stress. They show ASW's most effusive romantic style. There are a great number of volumes for the 1930s and 1940s, and often passages are repeated or similar feelings restated over and over again. Many are written in the loneliness of the middle of the night. ASW's difficult handwriting is made even more difficult by the smudging of the penciled scrawl. Of some help are typed copies of selected passages up to 1936 made for ASW. These would be of interest to those studying the breakup of her marriage and her relationship with Hayden.

There is no bibliography of ASW's published works so it is difficult to estimate what proportion are represented by the "Writings-Published" section in this series. There are really very few for someone who thought of herself as a writer. These are arranged chronologically and include two memoirs of Jack London, one forThe Massesand one later one for theGreenwich Village Lantern.

The Series contains a large number of drafts, fragments, and notes for unpublished works. Where possible, these have been listed by ASW's titles, or where there is no title, by subject, but there remain two full boxes of unidentified loose pages. There are sketches of notable characters ASW met during her stay in Russia, notes for articles and fiction showing ASW's great abhorrence for capital punishment, and a great many pages for a lengthy memoir of Jack London. There are also chapters for a novel, an outline for a play, and samples of ASW's poetry.

Series IV contains both ASW's personal memorabilia such as programs, clippings, and promotional literature for her appearances, and guest and address books as well as files of material she saved concerning her friends or causes or subjects in which she was interested. Much of this material is printed, though there are unique items such as children's drawings and memorabilia of WEW. Of interest also is a typed memoir by Leonard Abbott recounting the people and events of his long career in radical causes and a box of postcards collected by the Wallings on their travels. Included in the postcards are several from Russia and Europe [ca. 1906]. In the folder "Russia" (folder 467) are a few rare publications from the same period.

PHOTOGRAPHS, Series V, consists of only one box. Many of the photographs are of ASW and the children. There are interesting photographs taken in Russia and also some of the ruins of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Many persons and places are unidentified, but there is at least one photograph of Rose Pastor Stokes on Caritas Island.

The Anna Walling Papers will be of interest to those studying the many other collections in Manuscripts and Archives concerning the Russian revolution and American socialism. The Rose Pastor Stokes Papers (MS 573) are clearly related, containing photographs of and correspondence with the Wallings. ASW met and wrote on Catherine Breshkovsky, the "little grandmother of the Russian Revolution", and her papers are contained in Manuscript Group #606.

Dates

  • 1880-1968

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

While this collection as a whole is available for research, parts of it may be restricted due to law, university policy or fragility. Any restricted material will be noted as such.For the portions that have been filmed, patrons must use HM 158 instead of the originals.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by Christopher Walling for materials authored or otherwise produced by Anna Strunsky Walling. After his lifetime, his copyright passes to Yale University. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from the Walling family in 1980; gift of John M. Whitcomb, 1988 and 1992; gift of Anna Walling Hamburger, 1994; gift of Rosamond Walling Tirana, 1999; and gift of Diane S. and Robert Abrams, 2014.

Arrangement

Arranged in five series and two additions: I. Correspondence of Anna Strunsky Walling, 1897-1964. II. Correspondence of Others, 1871-1964. III. Diaries and Writings, [1901]-1964. IV. Memorabilia, [ca. 1880s]-1964. V. Photographs, [ca. 1900-1960].

Extent

17.25 Linear Feet

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.1111

Overview

The papers consist of correspondence, diaries, writings, memorabilia and photographs. The correspondence (1897-1964) which includes family, friends and political associates documents Walling's involvement in political causes. The letters also reveal Anna Walling's feelings on personal matters, social questions and her reactions to meetings with prominent persons both in the United States and abroad. Her trip to Russia (ca. 1905-1907) with William English Walling where they toured the provinces and met many literary and political figures is described in her letters home. Important personal correspondents are Melville Anderson, Gelette Burgess, Harry Cowell, Hutchins Hapgood, Ray Nash, Charles Edward Russell, Katherine Maryson, Jane Roulson, James Graham Phelps Stokes, Rose Pastor Stokes, Upton Sinclair and Gaylord Wilshire. There are also a number of letters from prominent political and literary figures of the period, among them Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Zona Gale, Arnold Genthe, Jesse Jackson, Vida Scudder, Irving Stone, Henrietta Szold, Norman Thomas and Rabindranath Tagore. Despite her prolonged love affair with Jack London only a few copies of his letters are in the correspondence, (She gave many of his letters, manuscripts, etc. to the Huntington Library.)

Biographical / Historical

Anna Strunsky Walling was born in Russia on March 21, 1879. Her parents, Elias Strunsky and Anna Horowitz (or Hourwitch) Strunsky (the daughter of Rabbi Lasser Horowitz) emigrated to the United States in 1893 with their six children: Albert, Hyman, Max, Morris, Anna, and Rose. The family first settled in New York but relocated to San Francisco, where Elias had a liquor business. The family encouraged the children in their education. Max became a respected orthopedic surgeon and Hyman a writer for The New York Call. Both Anna and Rose attended Stanford University, Anna graduating in the class of 1900.

Anna, while still a student, became active in socialist causes and joined the Socialist Labor Party. Talented, bright, with ambitions to become a writer, and seen, perhaps, as slightly exotic or bohemian, Anna moved in a circle of San Francisco writers and artists at the turn of the century. Contemporary newspapers described her as "fascinating," "the type to attract men," and "keen and alert." "The Crowd", as the circle was called, included Austin Lewis, Harry Cowell, Cameron King, Frank Strawn Hamilton, Herman Whitaker, Frederick Irons Banford, George and Carrie Sterling, Xavier Martinez, and Charmian Kittredge. It was Frank Strawn Hamilton who in December 1899 introduced Anna to Jack London while they were attending a celebration of the Paris Commune which was held in San Francisco under the auspices of the American branch of the Socialist Labor Party. Thus began a passionate friendship that would be punctuated by sharp confrontations caused by intellectual and emotional differences.

London began to frequent the warm, congenial Strunsky home where he and Anna would read and discuss literature and politics together. With a group of friends including Gelette Burgess and Jane Roulston, they read plays. Out of the Strunsky-London discussions emerged a book, a novel in the form of letters, The Kempton-Wace Letters. The book, a philosophical debate on love, posed Strunsky, as Dane Kempton defending ideal, lyric love, against the arguments of London as Herbert Wace for scientific or biological love. The letters represented much that intellectually and emotionally divided the authors.

London's daughter Joan says that "there is little doubt they fell in love early in their acquaintance, but their basic differences on which neither would compromise proved as strong as their mutual attraction." She suggests that Anna doubted the principles of Jack's philosophy, that he was too much concerned with money to be a socialist and that he was out to "beat the capitalists at their own game." Jack for his part startled Anna by questioning her ability to carry forth her life with purpose, without being swamped by her magnificent emotional qualities. Andrew Sinclair in his Jack suggests that London would have married Anna had he had enough money to support her in the style to which he thought she was accustomed.

During the time of the collaborative effort, 1900-1902, London married his first wife, Bess Maddern, but he continued to write passionately to Anna. However, when London left California in the summer of 1902, Anna apparently broke off the romance. The Kempton-Wace Letters were published anonymously in 1903 by MacMillan. Later, when the authors were made known and London separated from Bess many people suspected that Anna Strunsky had been the cause and that London would marry her. London, in fact, had already decided to marry Charmian Kittredge. The sensational press had a field day with the scandal. Some of the papers accused London of using the scandal to inflate sales of the book.

Anna was not even in San Francisco when the scandal began to break. After the separation from London and after MacMillan had accepted the book, she had gone to New York. Here she wrote articles and revised the page proofs of the book. Gaylord Wilshire gave her a kind of social season introducing her to William Dean Howells, Norman Hapgood, and Leonard Abbott. It was during this stay that she probably met her future husband, William English Walling, who at the time was working for the University Settlement. Anna spent the summer of 1903 first in Boston to meet with the Burgesses and then journeyed to Europe with them. In London she met a "host of old Socialists" including Kropotkin.

She returned to San Francisco in the fall of 1903 to begin a novel called "Windlestraws" and to write and lecture on Russian subjects. On and off she saw London to share some of her work, letters from mutual friends, and ideas about "the cause", but she was also forming a strong friendship with Cameron King. When Jack's divorce was final she wrote to her friend Katia Maryson (1904 Sep 2): "I am very glad that he has his freedom at last. He has suffered bitterly. Further I do not know… I think we do not love each other, but I may be slandering a supreme feeling in thinking so. I am too breathless from the race for happiness and do not know."

With the threat of war in the Far East Anna planned to become a war correspondent for the San Francisco Bulletin following London who was to go for the Hearst syndicate. Instead during the winter of 1905 she took herself to King's Mountain to begin a novel that she would work on for another ten years, Violette of Pere Lachaise. On returning to the city she helped establish a circle of Friends of Russian Freedom. In her letter to Maryson (1905 Mar 4) she wrote: "I have deserted Jack. There is not a thought for him, not a clinging regret." When she wrote to Maryson of London's pending marriage to Charmian Kittredge (1905 May 10) she said: "Please do not think me unhappy. I...do not myself want Jack's love. I am quite estranged from him." Nevertheless, London remained a friend to Anna, visiting her years later. Anna, for her part, lived with her warm memories of London, and she attempted to write a biography of him many times.

Anna had been in contact with William English Walling who was spending the fall of 1905 in Europe and was planning to go to Russia to witness the expected revolution and civil war. She received a cablegram from him urging her to join him in his work, and in December, telling her parents that she was going to Geneva, she and Rose secretly made their way to St. Petersburg. In an intense first month in Russia, Anna traveled alone to Vilna, Minsk, and Hommel. In Hommel she interviewed General Orlov and the Jewish victims of the massacre he had orchestrated, and a passionate article resulted. Within the month she became engaged to Walling, who had previously assumed her to be engaged to Jack London.

Walling came from a very different background. His maternal grandfather, William Hayden English, had been the Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 1880 and an uncle served in Congress. His father, Willoughby Walling, was a physician who, through astute management of real estate, had amassed a fortune, and his mother, Rosalind English Walling, was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Walling was educated at private schools in Louisville, Kentucky, and Edinburgh, Scotland, when his father served as United States counsul. In 1897 Walling graduated from the University of Chicago, then studied for a year at the Harvard Law School, and returned to Chicago to do graduate work in economics and sociology. With his independent means of support Walling was free to devote himself to his interests in the labor movement and to writing for the liberal press. He worked as a factory inspector for the state of Illinois and then became a resident of the University Settlement in New York City. It was through his immigrant friends in New York that he became interested in Russia. Once there Walling was able to meet with leading revolutionary figures including Lenin and Gorky.

The proposed marriage of Anna and English was not immediately acceptable to either side of the family. There were objections based on the suddenness of the announcement, on religious grounds, and on the publicity that Anna's relationship with Jack London had generated. Nonetheless, Anna and English planned to marry in Russia after the Russian First of May. In the meantime they continued to study and write, to observe the Duma, and to visit important personalities such as Tolstoy. When the American ambassador decided he could not marry them, they left Russia to be married in France. On June 28, 1906, with Anna's sister Rose and Jean Louquet, Marx's grandson, as witnesses, Anna and English were married in a civil ceremony in Paris. Following the marriage they returned to Russia, stopping in Poland to visit Anna's cousins and in Finland. In Russia they toured the provinces and then left Rose in St. Petersburg and returned to America. With all the travel Anna noted that she was having difficulty finding time for her writing.

Anna's difficulties finding time to write and to be productive professionally would plague her for the rest of her life. The first two years of marriage were full of travel. In 1907 the Wallings went to Italy for English's health and also attended the Congress of the Second International Socialist Organization in Stuttgart. Then in July, Anna informed the family that she was pregnant. Confident that all would go well Anna and English remained in Europe, and on February 8, 1908, a daughter Rosalind was born. But, all did not go well, and five days later the baby died. Anna was crushed, blamed the nurse for carelessness, and agonized over her own responsibility for the tragedy. For many months she was despondent. Perhaps it was just her intense emotional nature or some real sense of guilt, but for the rest of her life she dwelled constantly on this bitter memory. Another tragedy, a miscarriage on February 8, 1909, led Anna to write to her in-laws: "Well, it has all ended in another death - blow to our happiness and peace of mind, in an added feeling of irrevocable loss and defeat and tragedy, in another wound that can never be healed."

In the spring of 1909 the Wallings moved their belongings to Caritas Island in Connecticut to establish their household near their friends James Graham and Rose Pastor Stokes. They then set off on yet another European trip. This was to be their last for several years, since Anna was already expecting the daughter that would be her "consolation baby" Rosamond. During the summer a scandal arose when the newspapers learned that English was being sued by a French woman, Anna Berthe Grunspan, for breach of promise. Anna steadfastly defended English, and the scandal died away.

In the years following Anna was totally immersed in her children and home. Between February, 1910, and March, 1918, Anna gave birth to four children (Rosamond, Anna, Georgia, and William Hayden English) and had one miscarriage. The family moved into at least three different houses on Long Island and in Connecticut and transported themselves nearly every summer to upstate New York, the Connecticut shore, or Nantucket. English often left Anna with the children while he traveled to visit his parents in Florida, on Socialist Party business, and later to Europe with Samuel Gompers to the International Commission on Labor Legislation. Although Anna had an agent to arrange lectures for her, she had little time for writing and speaking, and her fiery speeches at political rallies grew less frequent. In 1915 Violette of Pere Lachaise was finally published.

Serious strains appeared in the Wallings' marriage before the marriage was ten years old. Anna complained of English's temperamental outbursts and of how he embarrassed her in front of their friends and children. English considered her less than adequate in her command of the household and servants and in her care of the children. He expected her writing and speaking to earn money and criticized her lack of productivity. Politically they were also divided as Anna continued in her socialism and love for Russia, while English moved towards greater nationalism, vocal anti-Bolshevism, and involvement in the American Federation of Labor. Financial problems also caused tensions. A large house purchased in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a summer home in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, needed much upkeep, the children required private school, and English having been raised with all wordly comforts was unable to economize, nor were his own occupations bringing in a steady income. English even tried moving the family to France for a year in order to save money.

Through the decade of the 1920s these tensions continued to build. As the children were ready for college it was obvious that finances were too unbalanced. The Greenwich house was put up for sale, and this seemed to signal the breaking point in the marriage. Anna suspected English of having an affair, but, though hurt, she continued to proclaim her love. English filed for a Mexican divorce in 1932, but Anna refused to recognize the end of the marriage. There were only brief reunions after that; English died alone in Amsterdam in 1936.

Perhaps it was in Anna's nature to dwell in the remembered love and her hurt and grief. Her letters, diaries, and notes replay unspoken words and scenes over and over again. Yet at the same time Anna was becoming deeply involved emotionally with Leonard Abbott. They had known each other for many years. Abbott, known as the "gentle socialist", had found himself on the opposite side from English on the important issues splitting the Socialist Party asunder: the World War, the Russian Revolution, the labor movement, and economic nationalism. Anna, though she was not outspoken, quite possibly found Abbott's positions more like her own. At the time of Anna's great emotional trial, Abbott's own wife was dying, and he was experiencing the financial difficulties common to many writers during the Depression.

With what was certainly compassion and tenderness on both sides, Anna and Leonard discussed the alternatives of free love and marriage. Leonard felt that Anna had kept him from suicide and homosexuality. But he was also able to offer support to her, encouraging her in her writing and counselling her on problems in the lives of her children. She cared for Leonard through his last illness in 1953, but although the two were together for nearly twenty years, there was never a legal marriage. Anna, for all her radical sentiments, was at heart a great romantic, and she probably could never concede that her one marriage was not the pinnacle of love that she had hoped to obtain.

Anna Strunsky Walling lived to be almost 85 (she died in 1964) but the last thirty years were lived through her children and her memories. She traveled frequently to visit a daughter and son in Europe and grieved over the children's series of marital difficulties. They too were unable to reach her ideal of love. She helped edit a memorial volume on English and continued to write her memories of her Jack London years. She returned to California on short visits to old friends and helped dedicate a California state park built around the ruins of Jack London's home. She participated in Quaker social action projects and followed the activities of the War Resisters League, the League for Mutual Aid, the American League to Abolish Capital Punishment, the League for Industrial Democracy, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People which English had helped found. Living in Greenwich Village, she had contact with some young bohemian writers, but by the time she died the sensational, enthralling Anna Strunsky had been long forgotten. Perhaps Jack London was shrewd in his observation that Anna's ability to carry forth her life with purpose would be thwarted by her self-abnegating attachments to others and her emotions. Hers was a life made interesting by the people she loved rather than by the work she produced.

Existence and Location of Copies

Correspondence, 1897-1964 is available on microfilm (21,647 frames on 20 reels, 35mm.) from Scholarly Resources, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware. HM 158
Title
Guide to the Anna Strunsky Walling Papers
Author
compiled by Diane Kaplan, John Espy, Joanne Woolner, and the staff of Manuscripts and Archives
Date
April 1982
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • August 1999: Finding aid revision description not supplied.

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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