Notes to checklist
By A.J.C., with thanks, in all, to E.F. and to J.N., and to Carroll Ann Friedmann, a dedicated investigator.
The Laura (Riding) Jackson and Schuyler B. Jackson Collection is held in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. The Library keeps a detailed finding list updated, from the 1998-published Guide to the Laura (Riding) Jackson and Schuyler B. Jackson at Cornell University, compiled by Patrizia Sione. This Guide includes a chronology of L.(R.)J's life, a listing of the eight related archival collections held at Cornell, and a list also of some twenty-five other USA repositories holding (Riding) Jackson materials. Among these, a particularly significant L.(R.)J. holding is that in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, New York Public Library.
Other substantial holdings are in Columbia University: Butler Library; State University of New York at Buffalo: Lockwood Memorial Library; University of Florida Libraries; University of Indiana: Lilly Library; University of Maryland: McKeldin Library; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Louis Round Wilson Library; Vanderbilt University: The Fugitive Collection, Jean and Alexander Heard Library; Yale University: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Outside the USA, important L.(R.)J.-related collections include that at University of Victoria Library (British Columbia) and, in the United Kingdom, Leicester University Library (G. S. Fraser correspondence), Nottingham Trent University Library for letters Mark Jacobs and to various people, books, and miscellaneous papers, and (especially for various publisher-archives) Reading University Library Archives.
ERRATA for A Prophecy Or A Plea (1925) as reprinted in First Awakenings, 1992, pp. 275-280
p. 276, line 17: mood (not, mold) [...of the classical mood...]
p. 276, line 19: Elizabethans (not, Elizabethan)
p. 276, line 20: romanticists (not, romantics)
Also, and most regrettably, a classic eye-jump appears to have occurred, during transcription of this piece for its only reprinting since 1925, whereby an entire line of the original was omitted at p. 279, line 3. It is restored, in bold, in the passage below:
You are clay, life is a potter, it is very wonderful. You are like this, you are like that, you are swept here and there, you are dead. And it is all very moving, all very wonderful. A body of poetry is inspired, thrilling, lyrical...
The Names and Pseudonyms: a Summary
Pseudonyms The author's only full pseudonym used in publication was Madeleine Vara. This name - although later used for the full-length "story in conversational form", Convalescent Conversations, 1936 - was devised to reduce the frequency with which Laura Riding's name would otherwise have occurred as contributor in issues of her Epilogue magazine, 1935-36-37. Thus the Madeleine Vara name appears six times in the contents-lists of the three volumes, while the initials M. V. are found appended to sections and notes throughout - see Section D.I, above. (One Vara essay, 'Nietzsche', has been under claim as Robert Graves's since 1949, a claim denied by L.(R.)J.; if contemporary evidence has survived, it does not appear yet to have emerged.)
Only marginally a pseudonym is the memorable name of Lilith Outcome, a poet-character first found in Experts Are Puzzled, 1930. The book's epigraph, p.7, is a 7-line 'quotation', 'From Automancy by Lilith Outcome', and 'she' is protagonist of its final story, 'Their Last Interview', pp.158-160 (which has striking elements in common with Riding's poem 'Then Follows', first published, in Twenty Poems Less, in the same year). Only some twenty-seven months later did Lilith Outcome's name appear again in print, this time as writer of one of the letters (pp. 173-175) - and addressee of others, from one 'Cyril' (pp. 48-62) - reproduced in Everybody's Letters, 1933. In 1974, on pp. 32-33 of her autobiographical article in Denver Quarterly, 8, L.(R.)J. identified herself as 'Lilith Outcome' and 'Cyril' as Norman Cameron. (The Cameron letters had been quoted at length, without reference to Everybody's Letters, by Robert Graves in his 1957 edition of Cameron's Collected Poems.) The name does not appear to have been used in other L.R. publications.
It is possible, but as yet unconfirmed, that L.R. had some part in inventing the name Barbara Rich; what does seem clear is that the name was conceived not for her use but as a pseudonym for Robert Graves alone. "Barbara Rich" was to cover his authorship of a light novel the title only of which was pressed upon him by the publisher Jonathan Cape. On October 29, 1930, Cape wrote to "Dear Robert", in terms designed to overcome expected resistance, that given the title he ought to be able to write the novel. "Here is the title:- NO DECENCY LEFT.", Cape wrote, going on to express confidence that it could sell a million copies. No mention of pseudonyms occurs in that letter. The story of Graves's reluctant acceptance of the task, and of Laura Riding's gradual involvement with it, revising to the eventual point of effective co-authorship, is well-documented archivally, though as yet under-investigated; its impartial recounting must await another occasion. L.(R.)J's consistent later stance was not, as has often been represented, to deny involvement with No Decency Left - indeed, she remarked in 1974 (p. 5) that "Mr. Graves and I knew the authorship of this book". Her point was that no one other than herself had authority to attribute part in the book to her: "my say as to my relation to that book is my business" (p. 5) (see Denver Quarterly, 8, 1974, esp. pp. 4-5,27-29). Her stance is consistent with the apparent pattern of public identifications of "Barbara Rich", from 1937 (at latest) onward.
Personal and Authorial Names. Her birth-name, Laura Reichenthal, has not been found appended to any publication. When an authorial name was first needed, following marriage to Louis Gottschalk (who had thereupon adopted, and who lifelong retained, Reichenthal as his middle name), Laura Riding Gottschalk was decided on, and was used for all published work through 1926. (The variant Laura Gottschalk, found only on the cover-label of The Close Chaplet, was unauthorized, and may have been accidental; the single occurrences of Laura Riding Gottchalk and Laura Rider Gottschalk are certainly erroneous.)
Following her separation and then divorce from Louis Gottschalk, she usedthe name Laura Riding consistently from 1927 through 1940, and it was retained thereafter for republication of pre-1941 work from 1927 through 1940, and was retained thereafter for republication of pre-1941 work. From her marriage to Schuyler B. Jackson, on 20 June1941, through 1962 (see Chelsea 12), her chosen name, occasionally used authorially, became Laura Jackson.
The final authorial name, Laura (Riding) Jackson, evolved during 1963-64 and was used consistently thereafter. Consultation with Sonia Raiziss played its part in the decision, as their correspondence shows, while Schuyler was allied with what at the time appeared to be the final choice. A letter of June 20, 1963, in response to one of Sonia's which had remarked that the decision was "a hard one for me to settle finally", has L.J's "Postscript. Decision as to name. Let it be Laura [Riding] Jackson. We both think this best. Will have it so in Civiltà. - Please note: brackets." And indeed it is the square-bracketed name-form which appears in Chelsea 14, 1964, and Chelsea 16, 1965. Before either, however, Civiltà delle Macchine had in 1963, contrary to L.J.'s instructions, printed the name with parentheses instead of brackets; remarkably - albeit after a solitary experiment, in 1965, with "Laura Riding (Jackson)" - it was that centrally parenthesised form which was to become permanent. (For references see Section D. I. above.) Although by hindsight the final version of the name may appear to have been anticipated in the heading for her autobiographical entry in the 1955 Supplement to Twentieth Century Authors, its form there - "Jackson, Laura (Riding)" - was probably dictated by Stanley Kunitz's general editorial headings-policy. Certainly the body of the entry begins with a firm "Laura Jackson (as the author asks to be styled) writes...".
To the end of her life, Laura preferred from her correspondents the cover-form Mrs Schuyler B. Jackson. With a matching formality, she asked, the couple's paired gravestones bear full civil names:
Laura Reichenthal Jackson
Schuyler Brinckerhoff Jackson
If you'd like to contribute to, or find out more about, Laura (Riding) Jackson and her work don't hesitate to get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.