cover of book

The Cramoisy Queen: A Life of Caresse Crosby
by Linda Hamalian
Southern Illinois University Press, 2009
Paper: 978-0-8093-2901-4 | eISBN: 978-0-8093-8646-8


Caresse Crosby rejected the culturally prescribed roles for women of her era and background in search of an independent, creative, and socially responsible life. Poet, memoirist, advocate of women’s rights and the peace movement, Crosby published and promoted modern writers and artists such as Hart Crane, Dorothy Parker, Salvador Dalí, and Romare Bearden. She also earned a place in the world of fashion by patenting one of the earliest versions of the brassiere.

Behind her public success was a chaotic life: three marriages, two divorces, the suicide of her husband Harry Crosby, strained relationships with her children, and legal confrontations over efforts to establish a center for world peace. As the first biographer to consider both the literary and social contexts of Crosby’s life, Linda Hamalian details Crosby’s professional accomplishments and her personal struggles. The Cramoisy Queen: A Life of Caresse Crosby also measures the impact of small presses on modernist literature and draws connections between key writers and artists of the era.

In addition to securing a place for Crosby in modern literary and cultural history, The Cramoisy Queen: A Life of Caresse Crosby contributes to the field of textual studies, specifically the complexities of integrating autobiography and correspondence into biography. Enhanced by thirty-two illustrations, the volume appeals to a wide range of readers, including literary critics, cultural historians, biographers, and gender studies specialists.

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