Bryher, 1894-1983Variant names
Bryher (1894-1983) was a British author best known for her historical novels, including The Fourteenth of October (1952) and Coin of Carthage (1962), and her autobiographical writings. She also established Close-Up (1927-33), the first periodical devoted to film. Born Winifred Ellerman, she married Robert MacAlmon in 1919. They divorced in 1927, and in that year she married Kenneth MacPherson. Beginning in 1918, she was the close friend of American poet H. D., whose daughter she adopted.
From the description of Bryher papers, 1812-1980 (bulk 1911-1978). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702134102
Bryher, British author.
From the description of Bryher collection, 1914-1969. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702159640
From the description of Bryher collection, 1914-1969. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 77898777
Annie Winifred Ellerman was born on September 2, 1894, in Margate, Kent, the daughter of industrialist and financier Sir John Reeves Ellerman, Bart., and Hannah Glover Ellerman. The family remained in England until 1900, then went abroad, spending winters in France, Egypt, Italy, and North Africa, and summers in Switzerland. The Ellermans returned to England in 1909, where Bryher's brother John was born.
From 1910-12 Bryher was educated at the Queenwood School, Eastbourne, spending many of her holidays in the Scilly Islands. (She later adopted the name Bryher from a favorite Scillonian island.) Upon leaving Queenwood, she took up the formal study of archaeology, but the outbreak of World War I forced her to give it up. During 1917-18 she worked on reviews and articles for the Saturday Review and The Sphere, and published a critical appreciation of Amy Lowell. In July 1918 she met the Imagist poet, H.D., who was to become a lifelong friend and companion. In 1919 Bryher published her first novel, Development . In the same year she made her first trip to the United States with H.D. During this trip, she married the American writer Robert McAlmon and they settled in Montreux, Switzerland.
Bryher continued to travel and to write during the 1920s, publishing two more novels, Arrow Music (1922) and Two Selves (1923), as well as A Picture Geography for Children (1925), and West (1924), which was based on material gathered during her trip to America in 1919. In 1927 she and McAlmon were divorced and she married Kenneth Macpherson. It was during this time that she formally adopted Perdita, H.D. and Richard Aldington's daughter, and legally changed her name to Mrs. Winifred Bryher. Bryher also underwent analysis with Dr. Hanns Sachs, and maintained an interest in the subject for the remainder of her life.
During 1927 Macpherson made two films, Wingbeat and Foothills, starring H.D. Bryher, recognizing their common interest in film, established Close Up, the first magazine devoted to film, and Pool Productions, a film company. Close Up flourished until 1933, when the era of silent films ended. In 1929 Bryher published Film Problems of Soviet Russia, a well-received study of Soviet film making. In the fall of 1929 Pool Productions began the film Borderline, which starred, among others, H.D. and Bryher. The film was finished in 1930 and received mixed reviews.
In 1930 she decided to establish a permanent residence in Vaud, Switzerland. Kenwin, (a combination of the names Kenneth and Winifred) was built during the years 1930-31. In 1930 Bryher published, with Trude Weiss, The Lighthearted Student, a German textbook. In 1935 she bought the literary review Life and Letters, changing the name to Life and Letters To-day . The disintegrating political scene in Europe, however, soon turned her attention to the refugee problem. During the latter part of the 1930s, she gave shelter and financial assistance to over one hundred refugees at Kenwin.
Bryher was forced to leave Kenwin and return to London in 1940, where she joined H.D. and Perdita. Despite the difficulties caused by the war, she continued Life and Letters To-day and published Paris 1900 (1940), a reminiscence of early twentieth-century Paris. She recorded her experiences with the London middle class during the air raids in her novel Beowulf (1946), which first appeared in France after the war. During the war, she renewed her friendship with Yale professor Norman Holmes Pearson, whom she had met in the United States in the early 1930s. Pearson was to become her literary executor and was instrumental in the acquisition of Bryher's and H.D.'s papers by Yale. In 1946, Bryher returned to Switzerland with H.D. In 1948, she and Kenneth Macpherson were divorced and she legally adopted the name Bryher, dropping her first name.
Bryher remained in Switzerland for the remainder of her life. Her first historical novel, The Fourteenth of October was published in 1952. This was followed by The Player's Boy (1953), Roman Wall (1954), Gate to the Sea (1958), Ruan (1960), Coin of Carthage (1963), and The Colors of Vaud (1969). In addition to seven historical novels, she published a science fiction novel, Visa for Avalon (1965) and two autobiographies, The Heart to Artemis (1962) and The Days of Mars (1972), detailing her life until the end of World War II.
Bryher continued to travel throughout her life, returning to England often, visiting Perdita in the United States, and making a trip to Greenland in 1961. She maintained her interest in archaeology, helped to fund archeological projects in England, anonymously provided pensions for a number of elderly people, continued to promote young writers, and took an active interest in her own financial affairs. Bryher died at Kenwin on January 28, 1983.
From the guide to the Bryher papers, 1812-1980, 1911-1978, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|World War, 1939-1945--Social aspects|
|Authors and patrons|
|Authors, English--20th century|
|Children's literature, English|
|British literature--20th century|
|Historical fiction, English|