Peggy Cowley

Female, Person


Who is Peggy Cowley?

Marguerite Frances Baird was an American landscape painter. She was married to poet-playwright Orrick Johns and writer Malcolm Cowley and was the lover of playwright Eugene O'Neill and poet Hart Crane.

Baird was a member of the women's suffrage movement. In 1917, she invited Dorothy Day to join the National Woman's Party. They were jailed for 60 days for their protests but were released after 16 days and pardoned by President Woodrow Wilson.

After divorcing her first husband, Johns, she married, in 1919, Malcolm Cowley. In 1931 she moved to Mexico to obtain a divorce. While there her long friendship with poet Hart Crane turned into Crane's first and only documented heterosexual affair. As Crane wrote to a friend about his romance with Peggy Cowley, "Rather amazing things have happened to me since Xmas. Peggy Cowley ... is mainly responsible". This affair has since become a major point of interest for Crane scholars—particularly for those reading him with an eye toward his sexuality—as his engagement with heterosexual life is a determining theme in his last major poem, "The Broken Tower". Appearing at moments to be a highly symbolic affirmation of their relationship, as well as a denial of his homosexual past, the poem was written just months before Crane committed suicide by jumping off the side of a boat in 1932, while on a trip to New York City.

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  • United States of America

on July 23, 2013


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