Chapter 8. Uneasy trio

Kay Boyle by Man Ray, 1930

Someone who would have disagreed with this assessment was Kay Boyle, a young American writer who now comes into the story. Kay had left home in Ohio in 1922 for New York, where she worked for Lola Ridge, editor of a very classy magazine called Broom published by the wealthy Harold Loeb. She married a French exchange student, Richard Brault, and moved to France with him in late May the following year. It was an unhappy time for Kay; her in-laws were dominating, Richard had no job and was bitter in rebellion. She made “a secret life” for herself, reading and writing compulsively, as she described it in her many letters to her mother and Lola. At last, in September they were given enough money to go to Paris, where Richard hoped to find employment. While Richard was job-hunting Kay explored Paris, and she looked up Harold Loeb, who introduced her to Robert McAlmon at the Café de la Paix; she was both awed and inspired. Richard found a job in Le Havre and then in Harfleur where the pair lived for two years, Kay writing all the time. A poem about Le Havre was accepted for Poetry although Harriet Monroe would not print the section ‘Whore Street’. It was cold, they had little money, and Kay developed a lung ailment which would not get better.

Earlier in 1925 either Ernest or Ethel (depending on who you believe, but my guess is Ernest) had seen Kay’s poems in Broom and in Poetry; he had got her address from Carnevali and had written to invite her to contribute to the first edition of This Quarter, which she did. Her poem Summer included the previously rejected ‘Whore Street’. [i] Her short story Passeres’ Paris is described by her biographer Sandra Spanier [ii] as a ‘rather mannered vignette of the artistic soul in exile’ and was her first published fiction. They kept up a correspondence. As the winter wore on Kay’s health deteriorated. Ernest sent her a cable saying: “Insist that you see my lung specialist in Paris. I will take care of everything. La vie est belle. We want you to join us here. Come quickly.” Along with the cable came 1,000F, an advance on Kay’s first novel Plagued by the Nightingale, from “the angelic Ernest Walsh”. Well, maybe. Mostly the angelic Walsh spent Ethel’s money.

Kay left her husband and journeyed south to Grasse in January. She cheered up. “I am so happy in this place and so spoiled by these charming people,” she wrote to her family. Ethel is described in Being Geniuses Together: “… between 40 and 50, dressed in a sensible but very expensive-looking suit of the plaid of her clan… Scottish clang… short, bobbed hair with only a little grey in it, and the pince nez gave her an air of authority, but there was at the same time something like shyness, or wariness, in her small, uneasy brown eyes and her tense mouth”.  (Ethel was in fact over 56, had no clan, and it is very unlikely that she had a Scottish clang – much more likely her accent was Irish. But Kay and her biographer Spanier were careless about detail; Spanier describes Ethel as a Scottish woman involved in English suffragism.) The three of them spent their days motoring round the countryside and working on the magazine. In the evenings they would relax in the villa and Ernest, who was somewhat better in health, would read poetry to them. It turned out that Kay did not have TB. And she was quite a ‘femme fatale’, with large dark eyes and a penchant for bright red lipstick and dangling earrings.

Ethel realised that Kay and Ernest were in love, and she decided to get out. One day Ernest arrived in Kay’s pension room to announce that Ethel had packed her bags and gone to Monte Carlo. So Kay moved into the villa with Ernest. Ethel has a somewhat different version of this time: “A lady contributor wrote to me that she was ill in the North of France. He invited her to come south, which she did. When, soon after, she became interested in Ernest and was not too ill to look after him I was able to leave him for a few months.” But her next sentence goes near the truth: “This lady is the ‘wife’ of the domestic poems.”

Ethel left Kay and Ernest together in February 1926 when his health had improved a little and he was no longer bedbound. Within a couple of months the pair ran away from the chateau to a village in the mountains. Ernest had spent all his money and paid neither the rent nor the tradesmen’s bills. Ethel, if Kay is correct, went to stay and gamble and work on the magazine, first in St-Raphael and then in Monte Carlo.

Kay wrote a roman á clef about this period called Year Before Last, [iii]  as far as can be seen, very near to the truth. Of course Kay’s views are not objective, but this, apart from Ethel’s own words, is almost the only extant writing about Ethel as a person. The following details come from this book – and it must be remembered it is a novel, not a biography. “Eve” is Ethel, “Hannah” is Kay and “Martin” is Ernest.

“When Hannah awoke… all around Martin’s bed were the pictures Eve had been painting on the Riviera all winter. She lay looking up at them on the walls where they hung, hard, solid and humorous. … The strong, bleak hills that might have been Ireland, the ditches turned with a strong, unshaken hand, the paint rolled off the brush as magnificently as turf heaping the canvas in these few squares that hung around Martin’s bed.” “She closed her eyes … But there was Eve as well, between them there on their first morning together” Kay describes her impression of Ethel HERE: Eve’s room, on the other side of the chateau, she wrote, had “a little pink lamp that burned all night so that Eve would not be afraid. Sitting up all over Eve’s bed was a grand collection of bisque dolls in satin dresses. She had been half-killed for suffrage for women, but she was irritated to sit out in a café with a woman alone, or to walk into a restaurant, even with another woman. But she had led a single virgin life. Because of her suspicions of what men might be after she had never given in.” Is Kay telling the truth as she knows it here? Or perhaps the truth as she would like it to be, if she wants Ernest to herself? Kay makes Eve Martin’s aunt.

Kay describes Eve arguing at the top of her voice with a taxi driver over the price of a fare, but at other times being wildly generous. She tells of Eve threatening Martin that she will cease funding their magazine. So Martin goes to meet her about this, and Eve is so pleased – she has dolled herself up, “left off her ropes of amber and put a wave in her hair. For the first time Hannah saw that at moments in Eve’s youth she must have possessed a sort of beauty … maybe the truth was that she had never known any man whose words could keep this beauty on her face. After her parents’ death she had run out of the room from a bald Scotch barrister in fear, for however he put the matter, she knew he was after what her parents had left behind”.

This actually sounds very unlike Ethel the bold suffragette; her father only left her £67, and would she have told Ernest or Kay of this incident? It would seem not all of ‘Eve’ is Ethel. And yet, the young Canadian poet John Glassco (who writes in This Quarter 4) described Ethel as incredibly shy. His whole description is an interesting one: “kind but incredibly shy and immeasurably shrewd” and said he would nominate her as literature’s candidate for canonisation.

 Kay goes on: “Whatever any man said to her [Eve] she had no faith in it, and on her physiognomy lingered suspicion of this one, contempt for that…. Only in the lingo and shape of Martin was [love] safe to her.” Martin says of Eve that “no one has ever had time for her … unless it was me for a little while.” In real life Ethel did have British friends who visited her. The picture painted of Eve/Ethel in Year Before Last is of a solitary woman, but one full of courage and pride.

In the story Martin stays at the best hotel and can’t afford the bill, so he goes and begs money from Eve; she says ‘fie upon you’, laughs, and takes him to an all-night gala dressed up in a costume Arthur had brought home from the Boxer Rebellion. That he was very fond of Eve, Hannah does not deny. And that Eve was very, very jealous of her Hannah stresses repeatedly. In the story, Eve sees Hannah and Martin embracing, and she writes threatening to publish This Quarter in her own right with his name removed: “You’re both so CHEAP, she wrote, that you’d do anything for the few pennies I have … If literature can come out of lust and orgy then I don’t doubt that you’ll be a great writer some day.” Martin was furious: “I’ll see her in hell before she gets it.”

There is a reference to Eve possessing several paintings by André Derain, a leader of the Fauve school of painters, which would support my hypothesis that Ethel had adopted this style. However, there are two references in the story which have no evidence at all to support their truth. One (mentioned earlier) is that Martin said Eve claimed to have sat with Terence McSwiney [spelt McSweeny] the Lord Mayor of Cork when he was dying in Brixton Prison in October 1920. “It was Eve, or some semblance of her, who sat outside the door and said to him when his courage was failing: you have no right to stop.” [iv]  And: “Eve it was who was offered a title at Court and what did she do but spit it back at them. I’ll take your title, said she, when you’ve given me and the rest of the women the right to vote like men.” (Frances Parker was awarded the OBE: could this have caused confusion? Could she have had a link to court circles via Kitchener? The story sounds improbable, but if there’s no truth in it why is it included at all?).

Ernest’s relationship with Ethel continued stormy, and he and Kay moved from place to place, asked to leave by hoteliers who found he had TB; in June they ended up in Annot in the Basses Alpes, their energy and finances almost exhausted. There they were befriended by Archibald Craig, (a young British poet whose real name was Cedric Harris) and his cousin Gladys Palmer-Brooke of the Huntley & Palmer family, who through marriage had become the Dayang Muda (wife of the heir presumptive) of Sarawak. Kay described Archie as a diffident young man, modishly dressed in linen of pastel shades and with a head of classical beauty, hugely excited to meet the editor of This Quarter[v] These two helped them find more permanent accommodation and probably provided them with money. Gladys was very rich. It is possible that they were the basis for characters in Year Before Last named as Duke and Phyllis, but if so this is a cruel portrait.

This Quarter issue 2 (August 1926)

In August This Quarter 2 was published from Milan; Ernest, despite all the arguments, is still named as co-editor. But by then he was seriously ill again, haemorrhaging badly, and Ethel travelled to Annot to help with his care. Kay was critical of Ethel’s nursing skills. She told her mother that Ethel “went to pieces” when Ernest haemorrhaged. “[She] is one of those hopeless people who drops everything before she gets it to you, knocks against the bed every time she passes it, drops water down his neck etc.” On the other hand, Ethel had cared for Ernest herself for years beforehand. She paid for the doctor and for oxygen, and the following month she had him transported by ambulance to her house ‘Beausoleil’ on the hill above Monte Carlo where he died on 16th October 1926. He died happy, with Ethel’s promises about the magazine in his ears. Both women were heartbroken. Kay described Ernest as “the gayest, bravest, simplest and most gallant of poets”. Ethel commissioned Brancusi to design his gravestone.

Back to August: This Quarter 2 was published from Il Convegno, Via Borgo Spesso 7, Milano 3. Il Convegno was an Italian writing group, of which Carlo Linati was a member, and Linati’s prose piece in This Quarter 2 was translated for him by Emanuel Carnevali. James Joyce was also a friend of Linati, and in 1920 had prepared a ‘schema’ to help him understand the fundamental structure of Ulysses. An extract from Finnegan’s Wake, on which Joyce had already been working for four years, appears in the same magazine.

This edition contained a musical supplement with extracts from George Antheil’s symphonies, sonatas and an opera Cyclops, this latter being related to Joyce’s Ulysses. Ethel/Ernest had read a piece he wrote for The Little Review and were obviously impressed by his opinions – “and perhaps they are discoveries” they said in This Quarter 1. By now they had had a chance to hear his music.

Antheil (1900–1959) was an American avant-garde composer, pianist, author and inventor. A self-described “Bad Boy of Music”, his compositions amazed and appalled listeners in Europe and the US during the 1920s with their cacophonous celebration of mechanical devices. A huge electric fan blew programmes out of people’s laps. Halfway through his debut performance in Paris a riot broke out, much to Antheil’s delight. According to Antheil “People were fighting in the aisles, yelling, clapping, hooting! Pandemonium! … the police entered, and any number of surrealists, society personages, and people of all descriptions were arrested… Paris hadn’t had such a good time since the premiere of Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps.” His best-known composition was Ballet Mécanique which consisted of periods of music and interludes of silence set against the roar of airplane propellers. Antheil described it as “by far my most radical work… It is the rhythm of machinery, presented as beautifully as an artist knows how.” Antheil’s official Paris première in June 1926 was sponsored by an American patroness who at the end of the concert was tossed in a blanket by three baronesses and a duke, and it ended with a riot in the streets. In the audience were Erik Satie, Darius Milhaud, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Francis Picabia. Antheil was delighted when Satie and Milhaud praised his music. Reactions to his first performances were cool at best. His technique was loud, brazen, and percussive. Critics wrote that he hit the piano rather than played it, and indeed he often injured himself by doing so. As part of his “bad boy” behaviour, Antheil provocatively pulled a revolver from his jacket and laid it on the piano. Sex Pistols or what?

This Quarter commented: “We trust that the specimens given in our MUSIC SUPPLEMENT will settle at least some of the questions that have been raised in connection with Mr George Antheil’s composition, or at any rate bring the discussion to a focus. … For general introduction to the subject see Mr Pound’s “Antheil and the Treatise on Harmony”. Antheil was well in with the Paris circle; Sylvia Beach had introduced him to Erik Satie, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Virgil Thompson and Ernest Hemingway. And his work was taken seriously: William Carlo Williams said that after hearing Beethoven’s music the great noise of life seemed ‘battened out’ but Antheil’s music ‘mastered and subjugated this hated life’. [vi][vii]

Emanuel Carnevali by Ethel Moorhead from This Quarter issue 2

In the magazine proper Ezra Pound’s cantos take pride of place, though it is a drawing of Carnevali by Ethel which forms the frontispiece. Some contributors had already been in the first edition. Emanuel Carnevali (poems from Bologna), Ernest Hemingway (a bull-fighting story The Undefeated which had been rejected by The Dial magazine), James Joyce (an extract from Finnegan’s Wake), Robert McAlmon, Robert Roe, Kay Boyle and William Carlos Williams appear again, as of course does Ernest Walsh.  Hemingway and Joyce were in Paris at the time; McAlmon relates in his roman á clef Nightinghouls that it was Hemingway who urged Ernest to include Joyce’s work, even though “Ernest had lost patience with him”. McAlmon was at that time in England. Kay Boyle’s story is listed as coming from Harfleur, before she came south. Roe’s and WC Williams’ work was sent from USA. In fact a large proportion of contributions came from North America – young, unknown writers being given a first chance in print.

Ethel included an autobiographical piece Incendiaries (on which I have drawn extensively earlier in this account) about her family and her activities as a suffragette. She called this a work in progress, but there is no evidence that she ever wrote more. The witty and beautiful American writer Djuna Barnes was also a contributor; she had been force-fed for writing an article supporting the suffragettes in New York World and was working in Paris as a journalist. Perhaps she and Ethel felt they had something in common. A further entry was poetry from American/French literary critic Eugene Jolas, who later published more of Finnegan’s Wake in his own journal transition.

James Joyce by Sylvia Beach from This Quarter issue 2
Ernest Hemingway from This Quarter issue 2

The magazine also includes photographs; two of Joyce taken by Sylvia Beach and others of Hemingway and Antheil, and an oil painting of poet Padraic Colum by Patrick Tuohy. And, finally, a very rude open letter to GK Chesterton by Ernest, saying: “The new poets are what determine the importance of the old poets. … When you have written one poem as good as one of my poems you may discuss Whitman and poetry. Until then, leave it to the poets.” His review of W. B. Yeats is equally dismissive; Ernest had no time for the ‘old’ poets. A vituperative letter [viii] denounced Harriet Munroe who had queried, in Poetry in July 1925, whether there was need for yet another magazine like This Quarter, and added condescendingly that “perhaps in the next number they will show us the promised land!” “This is typical, rather than exceptional, of the kind of thing THIS QUARTER means to make war on, namely the insinuating school of criticism, the weary critic, the bald-headed critic, the judicial critic, the polite critic, the malicious critic, the thousand and one kinds of critic that ought to shut up.” There were no holds barred in the artistic community of the ‘20s!

This edition, and the following ones, runs an “unrecommended list” of hotels, garages, doctors and other services “for the benefit and protection of our readers” Each offending service is awarded XXs, with four Xs for the worst. In all This Quarter 2 featured 22 writers and ran to 347 pages, price 7/6d.

By this time Kay knew she was pregnant. She resisted her first impulse to return to her family in USA and stayed with Ethel in Monte Carlo. Ethel said: “Stay here. I had only him, and now I have only you and the baby that’s coming. We must try to work it out together.” They gambled together at the casino, decorated Ethel’s apartment and were visited by suffragist friends from Britain. But it was an odd love-hate relationship. Kay was glad to keep in touch with Archie Craig and the Dayang Muda, as she felt this gave her some normality. She was working with Craig on A Yearbook of American & English Poetry. Kay described Ethel at this time in Being Geniuses Together: ‘[She was] light hearted as a girl when gambling although she lost a lot. She danced, with a cigarette in the corner of her mouth and drank elegant little iced glasses of Martini every evening… She flaunted her silk Boxer coats and valuable rings…’ Ethel also joked about Kay’s pregnant shape, wondering aloud what Ernest had seen in her. On the other hand, she did help; “out of the greatness of her heart and in contempt for all official authority” (Kay’s words) she lied to the American Consul in Nice, saying that Kay and Ernest had been married in her house in Edinburgh so that Kay could be entitled to a veteran’s widow’s pension. (Kay said she never received this.)

On the morning of 11th March 1927, in the Clinique Ste Marguerite in Nice, Kay gave birth to a large healthy daughter. Archie Craig fainted in the corridor, but Ethel held Kay’s hands all through, and cheered when the baby was born. Together they chose the baby’s name: Sharon, from the Song of Solomon. And then Ethel came to the rescue and perjured herself again on Kay’s behalf, registering Sharon as Ernest’s legitimate daughter at the Mairie. Francis Picabia, who lived nearby, became Sharon’s godfather, and gave her an extraordinary coat and bonnet in blue silk and lace, which Kay dressed the baby in only when she visited the Picabias. After a few peaceful weeks in the clinic Kay returned to Ethel’s house, but she found it a continuing struggle to live in peace with her. It was “like being married to someone who gives you everything – consciously gives – and will have nothing in return. Not love, nor interest, or belief.” When Robert McAlmon came on a visit Ethel cattily remarked that she wondered who Sharon’s father really was, and added that “[Kay] has no ideas at all on any subject”. Kay said that some of Ethel’s friends from England warned her that Ethel was dangerous, and after McAlmon left he wrote advising Kay to get away, and offering her any money she needed to do so. Kay decided Ethel was mad. Kay’s husband Richard had visited at Christmas and had been sending money for her ever since and had urged Kay to join in him in England where he now worked, so when Sharon was about two months old Kay decided to take up both offers. She accepted money from McAlmon and departed for England. Ethel  “…walked along beside [the train] for a few steps, with the smile of another Ethel twisting her mouth like acid and tears running down her stricken face”. Kay felt dreadful about leaving, and wrote to a friend: “She has nothing but me and the baby … But I can’t stick it.” She never wrote to Ethel.

Ernest’s obituary in the Paris Tribune, written by Eugene Jolas, calls him “one of the most brilliant poets of the younger generation, as well as an animateur, who has left his stamp in the literary history of his age” and notes that This Quarter was regarded by many as the most brilliant and advanced magazine in the Anglo-Saxon world. Jolas was about to start his own new magazine, transition, and asked Kay for contributions, which she was glad to make.

There is no available information about how Ethel felt and behaved over this period, except that she had moved house to 22 boulevard de France, Monte-Carlo by May 1927.

Kay spent a year with Richard, then was invited by Archie Craig to ghost-write the memoirs of the Dayang Muda. Her Highness (“of Amazonian beauty”) in 1904 had married Bertram Brooke, grandson of the ‘White Raja’ of Sarawak. She led the most extraordinary life. Oscar Wilde, Alphonse Daudet and John Ruskin dined at her family’s table, as did her godfather George Meredith. But unfortunately she had a bad memory and no ability to write her story herself; the book ended up being written by Kay, Robert McAlmon and John Glassco. However, Kay enjoyed a life of luxury for two months and ended up better off financially both from this and from her success in being published in various small magazines. She had a widening circle of literary connections. One day she was at the Dayang Muda’s house along with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas when, unannounced, Raymond Duncan, (Isadora’s brother) walked in, clad in tunic and sandals.  He was running an arty-crafty commune. She decided to join his group, where at least she would get food and lodging and care for Sharon. But he was a con man, exploiting his acolytes. Five months later Kay escaped with the help of Robert McAlmon and the Dayang Muda and went to stay with the Crosbys. It’s said Harry Crosby cashed in some of his dividends to pay Kay for an abortion [ix].  In 1929 she had a child by Laurence Vail (surrealist writer, painter and sculptor nicknamed the King of Bohemia) and in 1932 their divorces came through and they were married. They went to Austria in 1933, then returned to Paris. Much later in her life Kay Boyle became known as a campaigner for social justice and against the war in Vietnam.

Life moved on. Robert McAlmon divorced his wife Bryher in 1927. Sir John Ellerman, who seems to have become quite fond of his son-in-law, gave him a substantial financial settlement. Thereafter, McAlmon often was sneeringly referred to in bohemian circles as “McAlimony.” Kay described McAlmon as restless, always seeking some unnamed place or person. Unfortunately, he quickly dissipated most of the funds through parties and drinking. Ethel had helped out Hemingway financially when his stories had been rejected, but he had fallen out with Ernest Walsh and Kay. He had, they felt, started trying to advise them on how to run a review; he was told not to interfere or try to get more money from Ethel. He also bore a grudge because Ernest wouldn’t give his protégé Bill Smith a job on This Quarter, saying curtly “I know when I need staff”. Kay simply disliked him and disapproved of his sexual morals. Their other friends continued as before. Carnevali slowly deteriorated in Italy, but McAlmon had published his first novel. James Joyce’s eyesight grew worse. Ezra Pound’s friendship had cooled, as previously noted. In March 1927 he launched his own literary magazine, The Exile, but it only ran to four issues.

This Quarter 3 was published in May 1927 from the Imprimerie Guignon, Cannes. Publication was late because the US government delayed in refunding 16,500 francs to Ernest Walsh’s estate.

This Quarter issue 3 (May 1927)

‘No one knows better than the other Editor his great loss – that he is irreplaceable – for how can I find another Editor like him, with his inventiveness, discoveries, adventures …’ [x]. But the journal’s objectives remained steady: ‘Our interest is in the ADVENTURE OF WRITING.’

The first third of the book is devoted to Ernest Walsh’s work. Ethel wrote: “This Quarter existed for his poems. But he gave even more generous space to others who have since been acclaimed.” During the last few years Ernest had developed a new language for much of his poetry. He sent the new style poems to Ezra Pound and Marianne Moore, editor of The Dial, but they rejected them. Some however were accepted by Michael Gold for The New Masses. (They were published January 1927, after his death.)


My mistresses laces tightly braces rightly
Proudly plumbly does she whumpe me prumpely
Jigger a figger and whigger her whye
She’s as goode as her virtue is ssented
Anddde unwashed ye could pin her housekeepynge
In thy buttonhole butte she’s nott a sting
Steamy weeny leanye screamye dipper
She’s my tiddywhim my piddywhim bipper

Say when she whoodles me her trummy flumm
And sweetness whisses my her covely prit
Ohe to be there now my ispers lapse to luspe
Andde she her tumply wismm askinge smipple
While her whoodyumms is going andde ago
Yet somme there be who speak of lovve as sinne.

The Editor’s Notes, This Quarter 4: “I have had a great many enquiries about Ernest Walsh’s group of poems in Old English in the third number of This Quarter, and it is interesting how they came to be written. … His Old English is his own invention; the words and spelling used to accent sounds meanings rhythms. They were written in a mood of gladness – exhilaration – after being threatened with death in the autumn of 1925 [and then getting a bit better]”

What of the other contributors? There are poems by Kay Boyle as well as an excerpt from her first autobiographical roman á clef Plagued by the Nightingale. There is poetry by Eugène Jolas, Archie Craig (his first appearance in print), David Rosenthal, Jane Belo and A.S.J. Tessimond. Prose pieces are written by Emanuel Carnevali, Robert McAlmon, Morley Callaghan, Patrick O’Rourke, there is an essay by John Herrman and letters from Yvor Winters and Sylvia Beach. Most importantly there is a section devoted to Francis Picabia: twelve paintings plus poetry and prose and photos of himself. There is nothing from Ernest Hemingway.

Sous les Oliviers by Francis Picabia from This Quarter issue 3

Ethel contributed the editorial and some comment and review. She retracts the dedication to Ezra Pound made in the first This Quarter. She praises McAlmon’s poetry published in his Contact Editions. She reviews Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans, praising it as a great book but a ‘middleaged’ book. “…her book has escaped the doom of her class and her benediction of the commonplace. … Gertrude Stein’s book belongs to all the gone mad discoveries and inventions – …to the super-bores, super-crawlers, super-searcher and seekers, … to all the superlatives that have made the great New World.” Ethel next jeers at a series of articles in the Daily Mail by an English journalist Harold Begbie about English prisons; he evidently thought they were splendid places, and he conjectured that desperate convicts who swallowed nails and knives did it out of ‘pure devilry’. There is also an entertaining little story about how customs officials in New York insisted that a Brancusi sculpture Oiseau was not a work of art but a lump of bronze subject to duty.

Ethel’s ‘Unrecommended List’ sweepingly includes the concierges of France, all the American and British Consuls, Janie Allan and various Scottish solicitors, the Sisters of Mercy (in “their unsuitable clothes designed to collect microbes, the UNMERCIFUL bills”). There are also ‘unrecommended’ lists contributed by Archie, Princess Muda and Kay. Kay lists Harriet Monroe and Ezra Pound, but also ‘the tall man with black moustache at Hotel Cosmopolite’. I wonder who he was! The final pages of This Quarter 3 carry advertisements for other small magazines – New Masses, transition, The Calendar (an English publication) and The Double Dealer – and an announcement that the first edition of Living Poetry, edited by Kay and Archie Craig, would be coming out in Jan ’28; this yearbook never reached publication however.

While Ethel worked on the fourth edition, [xi] which did not appear until more than a year later, she started on a book containing all Ernest’s work, published or unpublished. If Kay Boyle was right in claiming that Ethel’s suffragette friends had decided she was too eccentric to be liked or trusted she must have been lonely. Of her family there remained only George in South Africa and Rupert, with whom it seems she never got on well, and Alice’s widower in Edinburgh. Did she see anything of Hamilton Langwill and her now teenage niece Margaret, one wonders? She had her house in George Street in Edinburgh until 1926; possibly another address after that. In France, at some point she moved to 5 Descente de Larvotto, Monte Carlo, whence the fourth edition was edited, using the same printers in Cannes. It came out in the spring of 1929.

This Quarter issue 4 (Spring 1929)

The fourth edition starts with one of Ernest’s poems. This is the only piece of his work to be included, but there are a couple of photos of him and Ethel from 1925. There are two more photos of Ethel on her own but no other art work at all; it would appear she had lost her artistic connections. Robert McAlmon, Emanuel Carnevali, Arthur Tessimond and Archie Craig are all included again; Ethel describes McAlmon as “a writer of genius”, so one can assume she had not yet fallen out with him. There are ten new contributors: Rupert Carr (whose poems were sent in by Lola Ridge, editor of Broom in New York), Paul Frederick Bowles (a gay writer and musician in Gertrude Stein’s circle), Gabrielle (a 18-year-old South American man living in England), Bravig Imbs (an American poet working as a proof reader for the Chicago Tribune in Paris), HN and John Sherry Mangan (an American Marxist who edited the publication Iarus: the Celestial Visitor). Then there are John Glassco and his mate Graeme Taylor and Edward Dahlberg, all their first time in print.

McAlmon it was who placed Glassco’s “Extract from an Autobiography” in this number. Glassco was the very cool 19-year-old Canadian who was to work with him and Kay on the Dayang Muda’s memoirs. Dahlberg’s first novel, Bottom Dogs, based on his own experiences, was published this same year in London with an introduction by D. H. Lawrence. The cover of This Quarter 4 is designed by Tanya Dahlberg (no verifiable relation). The last new name is Joseph Vogel. Interestingly, Vogel is given extensive coverage, with 6 pages of a playlet, the first 20 pages of a novel, a 13-page story, a poem and a 10-page ‘Defence of the American Literary Scene’ amounting to 15% of the whole volume. ‘Notes on Authors’ says this of him: JOSEPH VOGEL is a young American who lives in New York. He has appeared in New Masses [a new Marxist magazine] “which wants stuff for propaganda.” And in the small magazines .. “As for myself,” he writes, “I was a railroad labourer and later a mule feeder. I haven’t lived down the vacuous effects of having graduated from Hamilton College… I have a job now and earn enough to buy bread and coffee. That’s enough. As long as a fellow has time to write.” Could it be that Ethel had found a new protégé?

Ethel Moorhead. Photo by Minnie Hudgens, Roquebrune, 1928. From This Quarter issue 4

Ethel’s contribution to This Quarter 4 is in the last pages. There are book reviews including a diatribe: “Now why is it that America has not produced a great publisher – a publisher of American literature of living writers? We have to thank Robert McAlmon for the Hurried Man and The Making of Americans, brought out in France. … There is no point in calling France, for instance, a decaying country when she permits and encourages foreigners – Americans, Irish, Japanese and others – to produce their books, plays, compositions, paintings. A world where this is allowed will always be a leading world.” There is news of Carnevali with an appeal for funds for him, and an advertisement of manuscripts of This Quarter authors for sale. The regular “Unrecommended” feature this time is entitled ‘Alex’s Journal’ and is so full of in-jokes as to be incomprehensible – perhaps members of the literary circle could understand it. And finally: “Now I have to tell my readers that with this number my editorship and ownership of This Quarter comes to an end. But I am glad to announce that This Quarter has been taken over, and will be carried on, by Mr Edward W. Titus, the well-known Paris publisher. Nothing is nearer to my wishes than that This Quarter shall last out, and that young writers of worth shall still find here a place for their work.”

Edward Titus was American, married to Helena Rubenstein (the cosmetics lady) while in London. They fled Europe for America during World War I but returned to Paris in 1918, where Titus founded the Black Mannequin Press and began publishing D.H. Lawrence and other modernist writers. He was quick to get started on This Quarter – his first edition came out in the summer of 1929 – and he kept the magazine going until 1932, but it was never the same. Titus was more conservative in his choices – though it has to be said that the final number published under a guest editor (André Breton) was devoted to Surrealism.


[i] This Quarter 1 p.42

[ii] Kay Boyle, Artist and Activist  – S. Spanier Paragon House Printers1986

[iii] Published by Faber & Faber 1932

[iv]  Perhaps when Kay says “Ethel, or some semblance of her” she is speaking symbolically. Inspired by her friend Lola Ridge, Kay was a passionate supporter of the Irish Brigade and McSwiney in particular. In Being Geniuses Together Kay speaks again of ‘the British who had watched McSwiney die’

[v] Being Geniuses Together p.186

[vi] Transition 13 1928

[vii] Antheil was a talented individual. In the 1940s he collaborated with Hedy Lamarr in inventing ‘frequency hopping’, an early version of spread spectrum communication technology and a staple in modern wireless communications

[viii] This Quarter 2 p.305

[ix]  Wikipedia

[x] This Quarter 3 p.256-8

[xi] Spanier says she only edited three editions of This Quarter, whereas the cover of the fourth edition clearly states it is edited by Ethel.