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Laura Riding Jackson Collection

 Collection — Box: VMF 17, Folder: 28
Identifier: MS-VMF-vmf220

Correspondence from Jackson to Marie Syrkin and poem drafts by Jackson


  • 1923-1956


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22.00 items

1 folders

Biographical Information

Laura (Riding) Jackson (January 16, 1901 – September 2, 1991) was an American poet, critic, novelist, essayist and short story writer.  She was born Laura Reichenthal in New York to a family of Austrian Jewish immigrants, and educated at Cornell University, where she began to write poetry, publishing first (1923–26) under the name Laura Riding Gottschalk. She became associated with the Fugitives through Allen Tate, and they published her poems in The Fugitive magazine. Her first marriage, to historian Louis R. Gottschalk, ended in divorce in 1925, at the end of which year she went to England at the invitation of Robert Graves and his wife Nancy Nicholson. She would remain in Europe for nearly 14 years.

Riding's first collection of poetry, The Close Chaplet, was published in 1926, and during the following year she assumed the surname Riding. In 1929, Riding attempted suicide and the episode was a major cause of the break-up of Graves's first marriage.  Thereafter, until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Riding and Graves lived in Deià, Majorca.  Between 1936 and 1939, Riding and Graves lived in England, France, and Switzerland.  In 1939, they moved to the United States and took lodging in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

Riding and Graves were highly productive from the start of their association, though after they moved to Majorca they became even more so. While still in London they had set up (1927) a private press (the Seizin Press), collaborated on A Survey of Modernist Poetry (1927), A Pamphlet Against Anthologies (1928), and other works. In Majorca, the Seizin Press was enlarged to become a publishing imprint, producing the hardbound critical magazine Epilogue (1935–1938), edited by Riding with Graves as associate editor. Throughout their association both of them steadily produced volumes of major poetry, culminating for each with a Collected Poems in 1938.

In 1939, Riding and Graves parted, and in 1941 she married Schuyler B. Jackson, eventually settling in Wabasso, Florida.  In about 1941 Riding renounced poetry, though it would be fifteen to twenty years before she would feel able to begin explaining her reasons and exploring her unfolding findings. She withdrew from public literary life, working with Schuyler Jackson on a dictionary (published posthumously in 1997) that would lead them into an exploration of the foundations of meaning and language. Writings and publications continued to flow throughout the sixties, seventies, and eighties, as Laura (Riding) Jackson (her authorial name from 1963–64 onwards) explored what she regarded as the truth-potential of language free from the artificial restrictions of poetic art. Her later writings attest to what she regarded as the truth-potential contained in language and in the human mind. She might be regarded as a spiritual teacher whose unusually high valuation of language led her to choose literature as the locus of her work.

Source of Acquisition

Accession number 23062. Gift of Marie Syrkin?

Laura Riding Jackson Collection
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 March 19: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495