Skip to main contentSSC banner Smith College Libraries

Contact us | Search site | Site Map  


Yaddo Founders
Lola Ridge
       Yaddo, 1929
       > Yaddo, 1930
       Dance of Fire
Sylvia Plath
       Coming Soon 
Newton Arvin
Constance Carrier

Lola Ridge: Yaddo, 1930

George Foster Peabody and Allena G. Pardee served as president and secretary of the Corporation of Yaddo. Pardee originally came to Yaddo as a tutor to the Trask children and became Katrina Trask’s personal assistant after the children died. Peabody and Pardee  invited Lola Ridge to return to Yaddo in 1930 even though most artists were initially restricted to one invitation.

Letter, 1930

George Foster Peabody to Lola Ridge, 17 February 1930

Ridge stayed at Yaddo from 9 July to 22 October 1930. Elizabeth Ames gave her the same accommodations and arranged for Ridge to have most of her meals in her room. Upon her arrival, the radical poet and fellow guest Genevieve Taggart wrote to Ridge requesting an audience in her room. Ames wrote a note to Ridge on 18 July apologizing for the conduct of one young male guest who tried to monopolize Ridge when she occasionally came down to tea or dinner. Other guests included the composer Aaron Copland who conceived of the idea for the Yaddo music festivals, which began in 1932. Ridge thought Copland a lovely person. “He mentioned some of his several hundred intimates whom he’d like me to meet,” she told her husband on 24 July. “I think he’s the most friendfullman in America.” While she was at Yaddo, Ridge had some dental work done in town.

Letter, undated

Genevieve Taggart to Lola Ridge, undated

Letter, 1930

Elizabth Ames to Lola Ridge, 18 July 1930

Letter, 1930

Lola Ridge to David Lawson, 24 July 1930

Typescript program, 1930

Yaddo Players Inc. present "As It Were," typescript program, 27 September 1930

Letter, 1932

Eloise Gard Wright to Lola Ridge [1932]

Yaddo secretary Eloise Gard Wright was a great admirer of Lola Ridge and her poem Firehead: “I hadn’t known how the Poem supplanted, or mingled with the oxygen breathed into my pores until it had become bloodstream and brain cell.” In her letter she also reminisced about Ridge’s time at Yaddo: “You are called up to me in white fire with only the black band of your hair to make my mind call you woman.” Eloise participated in Albert Halper’s play As It Were, which was performed on 27 September 1930 for the guests at Yaddo. Other performers included American composer Mildred Gardner, Ukrainian American artist Louis Lozowick, Macedonian writer Stoyan Christowe, and American painter Gregorio Prestopino. 

Photograph, 1933

Eloise Gard Wright and her son, Peter Wright, photograph [1933]


Letterhead, 1929-1930

Click to read Lola Ridge's royalty account, typescript on Viking Press letterhead, 1929-1930

While she was at Yaddo, Lola Ridge received a check for $34.60 from Viking Press. It represented royalty payments for Sun-up and Other Poems and Red Flag, which included poems saluting the Russian Revolution. The check also included permission fees for poems published in three anthologies. Some of Ridge’s most powerful poems, such as her anti-death penalty sonnet “Electrocution” and “The Ghetto,” a long poem about Jewish immigrants on New York’s Lower East Side, were often collected in anthologies during the 1930s.

Letter, 1929

William Rose Benét to Lola Ridge [Summer 1929 or 1930]

Benét wrote to Ridge at Yaddo from another famous American artists’ retreat—the “sea-blue hills” of the MacDowell Colony in Peterboro, New Hampshire—where he was reading Catullus and vacationing for a month with Thornton Wilder and other guests.

I am delighted you are so happy at Yaddo. It seems to be the ideal place for you to work. Peterboro is the ideal place for me. I am used to it and I like the aloofness of its days all to one’s-self, and then in the evenings one can bowl or shoot some pool, occupations that are amusing and restful.

Dance of Fire, 1935

Lola Ridge, Dance of Fire. New York: Harrison Smith and Robert Haas, 1935

Some of the poems published in Dance of Fire were written by Ridge during her second retreat at Yaddo. Ridge read many books about fire, including Myths of the Origin of Fire, an essay by Sir James George Frazer, in preparation for writing her sonnets.

Letter, 1930

John Metcalfe to Lola Ridge, 21July 1930

Letter, 1931

Evelyn Scott to Lola Ridge, 12 July 1931

British writer John Metcalfe married Evelyn Scott in 1930 after she divorced her first husband, Cyril Kay Scott, in 1928. Metcalfe’s novel Arm’s-Length was published in March 1930 and selected by the English Book Guild as the Book-of-the-Month for June and July.

Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe were guests at Yaddo during the summer of 1931. Scott wrote to Ridge on 12 July: “Yaddo exhausts all one’s pence of small talk. [. . .] On some days I feel the company as a mild pleasure, and, on others, face them and meals with nausea prepared.” She tells Ridge that Eloise Gard Wright expects her baby in a fortnight: “It remains to be seen whether or not this event will cut short her association with Yaddo.” Mrs. Wright was not invited back to work at Yaddo after her baby was born.

Next Page: Lola Ridge, Case Five

color bar
Contact us | Search our site | Site map | Terms of use Smith College Libraries  |  Smith College Home Page
 © 2009 Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063 Page last updated on Thursday, 14 June 2018