Saturday, January 21, 2006

Lovecraftiana: Winifred Virginia Jackson V

The WVJ finale, at least for now.

Winifred Virginia Jackson led a mysterious life. We have few facts of this vibrant poet today, but we know one thing that HPL didn’t. In 1915, WVJ was married to an African-American in 1915 named Horace Jordan. Even in Massachusetts, in that day, this was a rare expression of love. It did not last, for in 1919 she divorced.

She was unencumbered by marriage when HPL caught a fancy of her. However, she already was conducting an affair that would be long enduring, with the African-American poet and critic William Stanley Braithwaite.

Joshi reports that there is no extant correspondence between HPL and she after July 1921. They apparently did both attend the NAPA convention that month, so it must have went badly.

I did locate a poem by WVJ included in Braithwaite's collection. As per her two Elizabeth Berkeley stories with HPL, it has dark woods and gnarly trees.

I preface this next section carefully. This ‘blog is all about Lovecraft and his legacy. His fiction and letters show the complete man, and we can frown on portions of his life – as he may of ours.

We must examine his elitist – racist, if you will – opinions, though. We recall that HPL could be venomous in his hatred of minorities, but he also was able to look past those differences and embrace his friends who were drug addicts, gay, divorced, and Jewish. They - for the most part - overlooked his idiosyncracies. Loveman was a notable exception, who felt betrayed and in bitterness destroyed most of his correspndence with HPL.

Lovecraft mentions Braitwaite in horrible terms. I will not go into all the gory details, but on May 1918, he tells Kleiner, "the annual ceremony … given to a member of the negro race , Gov. Beeckman of Rhode Island gracefully awarded the badge …to William Stanley Braithwaite." I will not go into the bigoted description of Braithwaite’s "mongrel" look, and Howard’s use of the "n" word.

In the last few posts I've shown (courtesy of those sources quoted) that through poems and letters the two shared good will - and more. However if more circulated between WVJ and HPL, than a little correspondent love and in person flirting, it did not consummate in a torchy romance.

Later, HPL told Sonia that before her he had not kissed a girl since his school days.

Next up - Lovecraft's darker side & Lovecraft's lighter side.

1 H P Lovecraft Encyclopedia p. 130
2. HPL: Letters to Rheinheart Kleiner.

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