McAlmon, Robert, 1895-1956

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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.

From the guide to the Robert McAlmon papers, 1916-1980, 1930-1952, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Ezra Pound papers : addition, 1862-1983, 1960-1971 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Bryher papers, 1812-1980, 1911-1978 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Louise Morgan and Otto Theis papers, 1903-1983 (inclusive, 1930-1960 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers, 1837-1961 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn H. D. Papers, 1887-1977 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Ezra Pound Papers, 1868-1976 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Robert McAlmon papers, 1916-1980, 1930-1952 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Antheil, George, 1900-1959 person
associatedWith Barnes, Djuna. person
associatedWith Bird, William, 1888 or 1889-1963 person
associatedWith Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992 person
associatedWith Bryher, 1894- person
associatedWith Contact Editions. corporateBody
associatedWith Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965 person
associatedWith Glassco, John. person
associatedWith Hartley, Marsden, 1877-1943 person
associatedWith H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), 1886-1961 person
associatedWith Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961 person
associatedWith Herbst, Josephine, 1892-1969 person
associatedWith Joyce, James, 1882-1941 person
associatedWith Lewis, Wyndham, 1882-1957 person
associatedWith Macleod, Norman, 1906- person
associatedWith Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972 person
associatedWith Morgan, Louise. person
associatedWith Porter, Katherine Anne, 1890-1980 person
associatedWith Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972 person
associatedWith Satō, Ken. person
associatedWith Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946 person
associatedWith Stern, James. person
associatedWith Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
American fiction


Birth 1895

Death 1956

Related Descriptions


Ark ID: w6hc1vqd

SNAC ID: 12233080