Jeff: Every Breeze Whispers Louise
On DAY 3 of the NYC Transit Strike, Jeff recalls a feisty freethinker who lived across from Jefferson Market Jail on Patchin Place. Louise Bryant [December 5, 1885 - January 6, 1936], a journalist, writer, and feminist, was known for her Marxist writings and bohemian lifestyle. She figured as one of Eugene O'Neill's important loves. He based Nina in his play "Strange Interludes" on her. She wed reporter John Reed, and they spent time in Russia together (1917 - 1918) writing articles about the pending revolution.
• • The film Reds was based on her life with John Reed.
• • Louise Bryant and John Reed maintained a residence at Patchin Place for several years until Reed's death at age 33 in 1920. It was in Greenwich Village that he wrote his eyewitness account of the Russian Revolution, Ten Days That Shook the World.
• • During their stormy relationship, Louise Bryant focused on her writing career, becoming a front-line war correspondent in World War I. She and Reed worked together in Russia during the Revolution, and her book, Six Red Months in Russia, made her an authority on Russian politics and socialism.
• • For readers acquainted with Louise Bryant only through Diane Keaton's portrayal of her in Warren Beatty's film Reds, a few biographies offer a welcome reassessment. Though one contemporary complained that she "had no right to have brains and be so pretty," Bryant was also unabashedly independent - - a professed suffragist since college.
• • Look for these titles at Jefferson Market Library:
• • QUEEN OF BOHEMIA: THE LIFE OF LOUISE BRYANT by Mary V. Dearborn [Houghton Mifflin, January 1996]
• • SO SHORT A TIME: A BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN REED & LOUISE BRYANT by Barbara Gelb [W.W. Norton, 1973]
• • Photo: Jefferson Market from Patchin Place
New York Public Library