Jackson, Winifred Virginia


Jackson, Winifred Virginia
   (1876–1959)
   Amateur poet living in the Boston area and friend of HPL. HPL was extensively involved with Jackson in amateur journalism during the period 1918–21. He wrote a brief biographical sketch of her, “Winifred Virginia Jordan: Associate Editor” ( Silver Clarion,April 1919; as by “El Imparcial”), followed by a lengthy critical analysis, “Winifred Virginia Jackson: A ‘Different’ Poetess” ( United Amateur, March 1921); he published several of her poems in his amateur journal, The Conservative;he contributed a poem on Jonathan E.Hoag to her amateur journal, Eurus(February 1918); he served as Official Critic for another journal edited by Jackson, The Bonnet,for whose only known issue (June 1919) he contributed a poem (“Helene Hoffman Cole: 1893–1919: The Club’s Tribute”) and an unsigned editorial (“Trimmings”); he joined her in editing The United Co-operative,three issues of which were published (December 1918, June 1919, April 1921). On a more personal level, he wrote a poem to her (“On Receiving a Portraiture of Mrs. Berkeley, ye Poetess”) on Christmas Day 1920, after receiving her photograph; the title refers to the pseudonym (Elizabeth Berkeley) under which she widely appeared in the amateur press. The poem was evidently not published at the time. By this time HPL had collaborated with her on a story, “The Green Meadow,” based upon a dream by Jackson; later, probably in 1921, they collaborated on “The Crawling Chaos”; both were published as by “Elizabeth Berkeley and Lewis Theobald, Jun.”
   Their relations may have been somewhat more personal. According to research by George T.Wetzel and R.Alain Everts, HPL and Jackson were widely regarded in amateur circles as being romantically involved. Evidence for this assertion is somewhat indirect, the strongest coming from HPL’s wife Sonia, who purportedly stated, “I stole HPL away from Winifred Jackson.” There is also a photograph of HPL and Jackson at the seaside (probably in Massachusetts). But since HPL stated to Sonia in the summer of 1922 that he had not been kissed since he was a boy, the “romance” must have been somewhat lacking in passion. Also, Wetzel and Everts claim that Jackson married an African American, Horace Jackson, in 1915 (hence her appearance in earlier amateur journals as Winifred Virginia Jordan); she had divorced him by early 1919 and then carried on a longtime affair with the African American poet and critic William Stanley Braithwaite (1878–1962). If HPL had known of either involvement, he presumably—given his severe prejudice against African Americans—would have ceased all relations with Jackson. HPL met Jackson on several occasions, but always at amateur gatherings in the company of others: July 4–5 and September 5, 1920, in Allston, Mass., and (probably) at the NAPA convention in early July 1921 (the same convention at which he first met Sonia). There is no evidence that HPL met or corresponded with her after July 1921. Jackson’s poem “Insomnia” ( Conservative,October 1916) may have influenced the opening quatrains of HPL’s “Psychopompos” (1917–18). That issue contained “The Unknown,” as by “Elizabeth Berkeley”; the poem is actually by HPL. He later stated that this poem and another (“The Peace Advocate,” Tryout,July 1917) had appeared under Jackson’s pseudonym “in an effort to mystify the [amateur] public by having widely dissimilar work from the same nominal hand” (HPL to the Gallomo, September 12, 1921; AHT). Jackson published only two books of poetry, Backroads: Maine Narratives, with Lyrics(1927) and Selected Poems(1944).
   See George T.Wetzel and R.Alain Everts, Winifred Virginia Jackson—Lovecraft’s Lost Romance (Strange Co., 1976).

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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