Draper, Muriel, 1886-1952

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Muriel Draper (1886-1952), author of Music at Midnight, was a writer, lecturer and political activist who also befriended and encouraged many artists and musicians.

From the description of Muriel Draper Papers. 1881-1977 (bulk 1925-1950). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702134003

Muriel Draper was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1886. She was the youngest daughter of Thomas S. Sanders, one of the earliest investors in the American Telephone Company. She grew up at the family home, Birchbrow, and attended public schools in Haverhill. In 1905 and 1906 she and her parents lived in France and Italy, where she first met Norman Douglas.

In 1909 she met and married Paul Draper, a lieder singer who was then attending Harvard. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to Italy, where Paul studied music and Muriel made the acquaintance of Mabel Dodge Luhan. The Drapers moved to London in 1911, and their house in Lisson Grove soon became a gathering place for many of the musicians, artists, and authors of the day, including Artur Rubenstein, Pablo Casals, Duse, John Singer Sargent, Henry James, and Osbert Sitwell. Paul Draper Jr. was born in 1910, and Raimond Sanders Draper ("Smudge") in 1913.

Paul Draper's gambling led to financial difficulties, and he left London for a singing tour of Germany in July 1914. After the outbreak of the War, he made his way first to England and then back to the United States, where he attempted to renew his singing career. Muriel and the children remained in London, without the money to travel, until later in 1915, after Paul Draper had been committed for treatment of alcoholism. The couple separated, and divorced a few years later. Paul Draper died in 1925 at the age of 38.

Muriel moved to New York and became an interior decorator, working with the architect Paul Chalfin for several years. From 1920 to 1922 she was affiliated with Mary Garden as assistant manager of the Chicago Opera Company. In 1922 she opened her own decorating business, which she operated until 1927. During the 1920s, she also published articles and sketches in Harper's, Town and Country, Vogue, and other magazines. In 1929 her memoir of her life in Europe, Music at Midnight, appeared and was well received.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s Draper was well-known as a hostess and an encourager of artists and writers. Among those she befriended and entertained were George Antheil, Max Ewing, Lincoln Kirstein, R. E. F. Larsson, Walter Lowenfels, and Mark Tobey. Through A. R. Orage she become seriously involved in the work of the New York Group of Gurdjieff disciples.

Following the success of Music at Midnight, Draper embarked on a five year career as a lecturer, speaking to women's organizations and civic groups throughout the United States. In addition to her life in London, her topics included "Has the Cause of Women an Effect?" "Live in Your Houses", "We All Wear Clothes," and other aspects of contemporary life and fashion.

Draper made her first visit to the Soviet Union in 1934-35 as a gift from her friend Arthur Courtauld. Her experiences there, described in a series of articles, confirmed her enthusiasm for the Communist experiment, and from this time she became more politically active. In 1937 she visited Spain during the Civil War. On her return she joined the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee and spoke about the Loyalist cause at many fund-raisers. She also used her 1938 NBC Radio program, "It's a Women's World," as a platform for discussion of many political and social issues.

In 1942 she helped organize the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship. She headed its women's division and was one of the delegates to the Women's International Democratic Federation meeting in 1945. She then participated in the founding of the Congress of American Women, the American branch of the W.I.D.F., becoming its president in 1949. She traveled again to the the Soviet Union at least twice between 1946 and 1949, and wrote and lectured in favor of Soviet "peace" proposals and of their domestic achievements.

The C.A.W. came under attack from the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1949 as a Communist-front organization, and the Department of Justice demanded that it be registered as a foreign agent because of its affiliation with the W.I.D.F. Draper and the other members of the executive committee voted to dissolve the organization in 1950.

Draper spent her last years living quietly in New York City, in increasing ill-health. She died on August 26th, 1952.

From the guide to the Muriel Draper Papers., 1881-1977, 1925-1950, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers, 1837-1961. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Littlefield, William Horace, 1902-1969. William Horace Littlefield papers, 1920-1969. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bell, Susan G. An annotated bibliography of British women's autobiographies, 1790-1950 : research and reference materials, 1986-1998. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers, 1837-1961 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Lincoln Kirstein papers, ca. 1914-1991 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
creatorOf Draper, Muriel, b. 1886. Muriel Draper Papers. 1881-1977 (bulk 1925-1950). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Draper, Muriel, b. 1886. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1931. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Susan Groag Bell's, An Annotated bibliography of British Women's autobiographies, 1790-1950 :, research and reference materials, 1986-1998 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
referencedIn Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers, 1837-1961. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Draper, Muriel, b. 1886. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1939. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Muriel Draper Papers., 1881-1977, 1925-1950 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Kirstein, Lincoln, 1907-1996. Papers, ca. 1914-1991. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Commedia dell'Arte. corporateBody
associatedWith Antheil, George, 1900-1959. person
associatedWith Baruch, Bernard M(Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965. person
associatedWith Bell, Susan G. person
associatedWith Bell, Susan Groag person
associatedWith Berman, Eugene, 1899- person
associatedWith Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968. person
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Congress of American Women. corporateBody
associatedWith Congress of American Women. corporateBody
associatedWith Courtauld, Samuel, 1876-1947. person
associatedWith Cummings, E. E(Edward Estlin), 1894-1962. person
associatedWith Douglas, Norman, 1868-1952. person
associatedWith Draper, Paul. person
associatedWith Draper, Paul. person
associatedWith Draper, Ruth, 1884-1956. person
associatedWith Ewing, Max. person
associatedWith Field, Stanley. person
associatedWith Field, Stanley. person
associatedWith Gallup, Donald Clifford, 1913- person
associatedWith Garden, Mary, 1874-1967. person
associatedWith Gurdjieff, Georges Ivanovitch, 1872-1949. person
associatedWith Kirstein, Lincoln, 1907-1996. person
associatedWith Larsson, Raymond Ellsworth, 1901- person
associatedWith Littlefield, William Horace, 1902-1969. person
associatedWith Lowenfels, Walter, 1897-1976. person
associatedWith Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 1879-1962. person
associatedWith National Council of American-Soviet Friendship (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Orage, A. R(Alfred Richard), 1873-1934. person
associatedWith Rigaut, Jacques, 1898-1929. person
associatedWith Robinson, Alice Walker. person
associatedWith Robinson, Alice Walker. person
associatedWith Scott, Geoffrey, 1885-1929. person
associatedWith Seldes, Gilbert Vivian, 1893- person
associatedWith Seldes, Gilbert Vivian, 1893- person
associatedWith Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946. person
associatedWith Strachey, John, 1901-1963. person
associatedWith Tobey, Mark. person
associatedWith Tobey, Mark. person
associatedWith Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964. person
associatedWith Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972. person
associatedWith Wolfe, Humbert, 1885-1940. person
associatedWith Women's International Democratic Federation. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Soviet Union
United States
United States
Soviet Union
Subject
International relations
Women and communism
Authors and patrons
Popular fronts--United States
Art, American
Authors--Political activity
Music
Authors--United States--Political activity
Adultery
Divorce
American literature--20th century
Salons
Women
Popular fronts
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1886

Death 1952

Information

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