Bryant, Louise, 1885-1936

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Louise Bryant was born on December 5, 1885, in San Francisco, California. After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1909, she began her career in journalism as an illustrator, and later the society editor, for the Spectator newspaper in Portland, Oregon. In 1916, Bryant moved to New York City and married the journalist John Reed. After reporting on the war in France for the Bell Syndicate in 1917, Bryant and Reed traveled to Russia and witnessed the revolution there. Her reporting on Russia appeared in hundreds of American newspapers and later was published as the book Six Red Months in Russia. In 1919, Bryant made a speaking tour around the United States to present her views of the situation in Russia. From 1920 to 1923, she worked for the International News Service and King Features Syndicate reporting mainly on Russia and Turkey but also on events elsewhere in Europe and Asia. Another series of articles about the Soviet Union and its leaders that Bryant wrote during this period was published as Mirrors of Moscow in 1923. That same year, Bryant moved to Paris and married the writer, and later ambassador, William C. Bullitt. (John Reed had died in 1920.) By 1926, Bryant was suffering from Dercum's disease, a rare and painful condition, and she died on January 6, 1936.

From the description of Louise Bryant papers, 1908-1938 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702172864

The journalist and writer more commonly known as Louise Bryant was born Anna Louise Mohan in San Francisco most likely on December 5, 1885, although the exact date remains uncertain. She was the third child of Anna Louisa and Hugh J. Mohan. Louise's parents divorced in 1889 and her mother married Sheridan Bryant. The family took the Bryant name and moved to Nevada where Louise attended Wadsworth High School, University High School in Reno, and the University of Nevada. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 1909.

After college, Bryant moved to Portland, Oregon, becoming an illustrator for the Spectator newspaper and later its society editor. She married Paul Trullinger, a dentist, in 1909. With the encouragement of her friend Sara Bard Field, she became active in 1912 in the women's suffrage movement in Oregon giving speeches around the state. An admirer of his reporting, Bryant met the politically-active journalist John Reed in 1914 or 1915 and moved to New York City to live with him in 1916, divorcing Trullinger later that year. Living in Greenwich Village at a time when it was a vibrant community of artists and political activists, Bryant began writing articles and poems for the radical journal The Masses. Bryant and Reed were early members of the Provincetown Players theater group which produced Bryant's play, "The Game," in its first season. Through the Provincetown Players, Bryant met the playwright Eugene O'Neill, and they briefly became lovers. Bryant married Reed in the fall of 1916, but they both advocated free love and each had a number of relationships outside their open marriage.

In the summer of 1917, Bryant obtained her first assignment as a foreign correspondent for the newly formed Bell Syndicate, traveling to France to report on the war in Europe. One of her articles on the war appeared in the New York American and another in The Masses . Her reporting on the Russian Revolution later that year brought her to the top of her field. Bryant and Reed arrived in Russia in late summer 1917, just two months before the Bolshevik Revolution toppled the short-lived Provisional Government under Aleksandr Kerensky. Bryant witnessed this upheaval from Petrograd and interviewed many of the leading participants including Kerensky, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Alexandra Kollantai, Catherine Breshkovsky, and Marie Spiridonova.

Returning to the United States in early 1918, Bryant wrote a series of thirty-two articles on what she had witnessed in Russia which, by April, she had sold to the Philadelphia Public Ledger . The Ledger, in turn, syndicated the stories to hundreds of newspapers across the country making Bryant a star reporter and leading authority on revolutionary Russia. The articles appeared as the book Six Red Months in Russia later the same year. Bryant followed up with a speaking tour in 1919 that took her across the United States and presented a sympathetic view of Soviet Russia. When her tour took her to Washington in February, she participated in protests of the National Woman's Party for woman's suffrage and was briefly jailed. Shortly after her release, Bryant testified as the first unfriendly witness before the Senate Judiciary Committee which was then investigating Bolshevism and radicalism in the United States. During 1919, Bryant also wrote for the journal Soviet Russia about conditions in Russia and for The Masses on Irish independence, another cause which she supported.

In August 1920, Bryant left the United States to rejoin Reed in Russia and to report for the International News Service. Just weeks after reuniting with Reed, he died of typhus. With her loss, Bryant threw herself into her reporting, filing regular cables with the International News Service and traveling in early 1921 to Bukhara, Uzbekistan and other parts of the Central Asian territories of the former Russian empire. Over the next two years, Bryant traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East and produced a flood of reporting primarily on Russia and Turkey but also feature stories about Italy and Greece. For the King Features Syndicate, Bryant wrote another series of articles on Soviet Russia and its leaders under the title "Mirrors of Moscow." The articles appeared in the Hearst press in 1922 and were compiled into a book of the same name the following year. In addition to further reporting on Lenin, Trotsky, and Kollantai, "Mirrors of Moscow" offered treatments of other Soviet leaders such as Anatol Lunacharsky, Enver Pasha, Michael Kalinin, Gregory Chicherin, and Maxim Litvinov. Bryant wrote notable feature stories about Fascist Italy in 1923 including an interview of Benito Mussolini, the first by a non-Italian reporter, and a two-article-series on the Italian war hero and poet Gabriele D'Annunzio. The same year, the International News Service dispatched Bryant to Constantinople where she reported on the emergence of the new state of Turkey and its leader Kemal Atatürk. Bryant also gained a rare interview with King Constantine of Greece.

In late 1923, Bryant moved to Paris with the writer, and later ambassador, William C. Bullitt, and they soon married. The following year Bryant gave birth to their daughter Anne Moen Bullitt (Moen was a variant spelling of Bryant's family name Mohan). No longer reporting regularly for the International News Service, Bryant wrote several more articles on Kemal Ataturk and Turkey and wrote plays, short stories, and poems although little of her literary efforts from this period appear to have been published. By 1926, Bryant was suffering from Dercum's disease, a rare and painful condition, and had begun drinking heavily. In 1930, Bullitt divorced her and won sole custody of Anne by attesting to Bryant's drinking and a lesbian relationship she had formed with Gwen Le Gallienne. Bryant continued to live in Paris, working at one point with researchers from Harvard University to preserve John Reed's papers that she had kept. On January 6, 1936, Louise Bryant died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. The story of Bryant's life began to be told in detail by Barbara Gelb's 1973 biography of John Reed and Louise Bryant, So Short a Time, and gained much wider attention in the 1981 feature film Reds . Since then, two biographies by Virginia Gardner and Mary V. Dearborn have focused solely on Bryant's life.

Additional sources:

Dearborn, Mary V. Queen of Bohemia: The Life of Louise Bryant (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996).

Gardner, Virginia. Friend and Lover: The Life of Louise Bryant (New York: Horizon, 1982).

From the guide to the Louise Bryant papers, 1908-1938, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Reed, John, 1887-1920. John Reed additional papers, 1909-1939. Houghton Library
referencedIn Julia Ruuttila Papers, 1878-2004, 1935-1970 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Claude McKay letters and manuscripts, 1915-1952 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Archives Section
referencedIn Amos Pinchot Papers, 1856-1945, (bulk 1909-1942) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Andrew Dasburg Papers, 1908-1981 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Walsh, Frank P. Frank P. Walsh papers, 1896-1939, bulk (1920-1939). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Goldman, Emma, 1869-1940. Papers of Leon Malmed and Emma Goldman, 1899-1982 (inclusive), 1899-1940 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Guide to the Virginia Gardner Papers, 1913-1990 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Lamont, Corliss, 1902-,. Corliss Lamont papers concerning John Reed, 1910-1967. Houghton Library
creatorOf Bryant, Louise, 1885-1936. Louise Bryant papers, 1908-1938 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Dial/Scofield Thayer papers, 1879-1982, 1920-1925 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Reed, John, 1887-1920. John Reed additional papers, 1887-1976. Houghton Library
referencedIn Guide to the Virginia Gardner Papers, 1913-1990 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn John Henry Bradley Storrs papers Archives of American Art
referencedIn Granville Hicks Papers, 1906-1980 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf McKay, Claude, 1890-1948. Claude McKay letters and manuscripts 1915-1952. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Ruuttila, Julia, 1907-1991. Julia Ruuttila Papers, 1878-2004 (bulk 1935-1970). Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Louise Bryant papers, 1908-1938 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Frank P. Walsh papers, 1896-1939, 1920-1939 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf John Henry Bradley Storrs papers Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bullitt, William C. (William Christian), 1891-1967. William C. Bullitt papers, 1813-1998 (inclusive), 1909-1967 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939. Correspondence [manuscript] 1934-1939. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Gitlow, Benjamin, 1891-1965. Papers, 1910-1968. University of North Carolina, Charlotte, J. Murrey Atkins Library
referencedIn Reed, John, 1887-1920. John Reed papers, 1903-1967 (inclusive), 1910-1920 (bulk). Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Atatürk, Kemal, 1881-1938. person
associatedWith Breshko-Breshkovskai︠a︡, Ekaterina Konstantinovna, 1844-1934. person
associatedWith Bullitt, William C. (William Christian), 1891-1967. person
associatedWith Chicherin, G. (Georgiĭ), 1872-1936. person
associatedWith D'Annunzio, Gabriele, 1863-1938. person
associatedWith Dasburg, Andrew, 1887-1979 person
associatedWith Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939. person
associatedWith Gardner, Virginia. person
associatedWith Gardner, Virginia. Friend and lover. person
correspondedWith Gitlow, Benjamin, 1891-1965. person
associatedWith Goldman, Emma, 1869-1940. person
associatedWith Hicks, Granville, 1901-1982 person
associatedWith International News Service. corporateBody
associatedWith Kalinin, M. I. (Mikhail Ivanovich), 1875-1946. person
associatedWith Kerensky, Aleksandr Fyodorovich, 1881-1970. person
associatedWith Lamont, Corliss, 1902-, person
associatedWith Lenin, Vladimir Ilʹich, 1870-1924. person
associatedWith McKay, Claude, 1890-1948. person
associatedWith Mussolini, Benito, 1883-1945. person
associatedWith O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953. person
correspondedWith Pinchot, Amos, 1873-1944. person
associatedWith Provincetown Players. corporateBody
associatedWith Reed, John, 1887-1920. person
associatedWith Ruuttila, Julia, 1907-1991. person
associatedWith Spiridonova, Marii︠a︡ Aleksandrovna, 1884-1941. person
associatedWith Storrs, John Henry Bradley, 1885-1956. person
associatedWith Thayer, Scofield, b. 1889. person
associatedWith Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940. person
associatedWith Walsh, Frank P. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Soviet Union
United States
Free love
LGBTQ resource
World War, 1914-1918
Women and journalism


Birth 1885-12-05

Death 1936-01-06





Ark ID: w6n30bj2

SNAC ID: 65055707