Draper, Muriel, 1886-1952Alternative names
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)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Women and communism|
|Authors and patrons|
|Popular fronts--United States|
|Authors--United States--Political activity|
|American literature--20th century|