The Heart to Artemis
Bryher — adventurer, novelist, publisher — flees Victorian England for the raucous streets of Cairo and the sultry Parisian cafes. Amidst the intellectual circles of the twenties and thirties, she develops relationships with her longtime partner H. D., and with Sylvia Beach, Adrienne Monnier, Walter Benjamin, Hemingway, Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, Freud, and others. This compelling memoir reveals Bryher's exotic childhood, her impact on Modernism, and her life of social justice — helping over 100 people escape from the Nazis through her home in Switzerland.
"A work so rich in interest, so direct, revealing, and, above all, thought-provoking that this reader found it the most consistently exciting book of its kind to appear in many years." — The New York Times
"Bryher’s reputation as a writer rests on her postwar historical novels, but this portrait of a tumultuous era shows her passionate involvement in the present." — The New Yorker
"Annie Winifred Ellerman, aka Bryher (1894-1983) was a modernist maverick: novelist, philanthropist, publisher (along with "husband of convenience" Robert McAlmon), proponent of psychoanalysis, and longtime partner of the poet H.D. Published in the U.S. in 1962, this beautiful, exacting memoir looks back on her English childhood ("I knew it mattered more if I were naughty on the Continent than at home because I discredited not only myself but every other English child"); her intellectual and political development; her and her family's penurious existence during WWI; her friendships and encounters with the likes of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Freud, Yeats, and many others; and her work smuggling Jews out of Germany and Austria during the Nazi reign. Bryher takes great pains to make clear how chance and the social mores of the time shaped her voice and creative drive, spending ample time on psychoanalysis, Elizabethan literature, and proto-Modernists like Mallarmé. Eloquently and engagingly written, Bryher's memoir will be attractive to anyone with an interest in modernism's development and personalities." — Publishers Weekly
"A walk with Bryher down the rue de l'Odéon in 1921, besides being invigorating and fresh, can end with the realization of just how art became the hope of a generation disillusioned by war, systems of government, and moral failure." — Grace Schulman