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Anna Marcet and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius:
An "Afterword" by Gene DeGruson


Anna Marcet and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius: An "Afterword" by Gene DeGruson from Short Works (Washburn University, Center for Kansas Studies), 1992.

The fiction of Marcet and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius is deeply rooted in autobiography, a trait not uncommon to other authors. The names, places, and events in these collected works often parallel those in the Haldeman-Juliuses' lives. Fallon, for example, is clearly a fictitious name for Girard, Kansas, and the county in which it was situated. Its name, however, was taken from Fallon, Nevada, a World War I Socialist commune supported by Fred D. Warren, En N. Richardson, Charles Lincoln Phifer, and other formerly associated with the influential Appeal to Reason of Girard. The Haldeman-Juliuses themselves had been investors in this co-operative enterprise - offering, among other things, joint subscriptions to Fallon's Co-Operative Colonist and the Appeal to Reason, with which they had been associated since 1915 and which they had purchased outright in 1919, the year the Nevada Colony Corporation went into receivership. Thus, the use of Fallon's name not only served as a cloak to protect them from any possible repercussions in using the name of Girard in fiction, but also served as a subtle memorial for the utopian Nevada community which had intrigued such well-known authors as Aldous Huxley and Carey McWilliams.

It is not surprising that the details about the town are accurate. Marcet was born in Girard on June 18, 1887, the daughter of Dr. Henry Winfield and Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman. Her father, for reasons of health left Mitchellville, Iowa, in 1884 and established the Bank of Girard. His wife became president of that bank upon his death on March 13, 1905, thus becoming the first female bank president in Kansas and vying with Kathrine R. Williams of Indiana for the distinction of being the first such in America.

Marcet's story is most succinctly told by Alexander Woollcott in his New Yorker profile of June 20, 1925: Marcet, he states, "had rebelled at the confines of Girard and come on to New York to go on the stage. She was the daughter of Girard's foremost and wealthiest citizen, but she did not like Kansas. The elder Haldeman-physician, banker, musician, philosopher, autocrat of the little Kansas town and holder of formidable mortgages on the farmlands roundabout-had died and Marcet, under the stage name of Jeane Marcet, was braving it out alone at the Three Arts Club . . .

"Then came news from Girard that Mrs. Haldeman had died. A wise and gracious lady was Mrs. Haldeman, less celebrated in the outside world than her sister, Jane Addams of Hull House, but not less highly regarded in Girard. It is possible that she had small confidence in her daughter's career as an actress: it is certain she had great patience with it. To Marcet she willed the Haldeman fortune, with no stipulations dictated by the inordinate vanity of the dead. She left it all to her daughter with a single condition. Marcet was to enter into her inheritance only after she had dwelt for a whole year in Girard. If, thereafter, she preferred New York and the hard benches of the managers' waiting rooms, it would at least not be because she did not really know how pleasant life could be in Girard, especially if one lived in its finest house and in the Spring twilight could motor out along the new roads and look at all the newly planted fields on which one held the mortgage."

Earlier Marcet had attended Bryn Mawr College for three years, where her group of best friends included a number of future writers: poet Marianne Moore, novelist Bryher (then Winifred Ellerman), and children's author Elsie Singmaster. She was graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1910, after Mrs. Haldeman's death on March 19, 1915, brought her back to Girard and her destiny: meeting and falling in love with Emanuel Julius, a young Jewish Socialist journalist who was hired by the Appeal in September 1915.

Born on July 30, 1889, in Philadelphia to a bookbinder, David Julius, and his wife Elizabeth, Emanuel had left school at the age of thirteen. Despite a lack of formal education, he became a reporter for the New York Call, the Milwaukee Leader, the Chicago World, and the Los Angeles Citizen and Social-Democrat, before returning to New York to become Sunday editor of the Call. A co-worker on the Leader and World had been Carl Sandburg; back in New York he had become the familiar of many names now famous in American literature, including the Algonquin Club members, centering around those associated with the New Yorker, co-founded by Harold Ross and Jane Grant, the latter from Girard. Lured by the prestige of the Appeal and a ten-dollar weekly raise in salary, he left New York for Girard as an associate editor.

Marcet Haldeman and Emanuel Julius were introduced by Mrs. Walter Wayland. Soon after arriving in Girard, Julius made the observation that the area had only two interesting women: one an art teacher in Fort Scott, the other the vice president of a Girard bank. He pursued the banker, and within six months, on June 1, 1916, they were wedded at the Addams homestead in Cedarville, Illinois. Six months after their wedding, their name was legally changed to the now familiar "Haldeman-Julius." They were soon starting a family, raising registered cattle, and writing fiction together.

Their third year of marriage was one of an astounding series of successes. The couple purchased the major interests of the Appeal to Reason. Being approached by Marian Wharton, head of the English department of the socialist People's College of Fort Scott (and the mother of Meridel LeSueur), Emanuel started printing pocket-sized paperbacks containing the full texts of quotations Mrs. Wharton had used in her 1917 textbook, Plain English. Advertising the books in the Appeal at five dollars for fifty titles, he was delighted with reader response. The titles went into third and fourth editions before he finally decided it was economically feasible to have stereotype plates cast of the best-selling titles. Called the People's Pocket Series and the Appeal's Pocket Series, they evolved within a few years' time into the Little Blue Books, printed at the rate of 40,000 a day and purchased all over the English-speaking world.

Also during this period the fruits of Marcet and Emanuel's literary collaboration began meeting with success. "Dreams and Compound Interest" appeared in the April 1919 issue of the Atlantic. Ellery Sedgwick, the monthly's editor, sent high praise and a hundred dollars for the unsolicited story, finding it "accurate, human, and novel." Even more encouraging was his request for another story in the Fallon series. Six months later "Caught" appeared in the November Atlantic, followed by "The Unworthy Coopers" in May 1921. Further, their joint novel, Dust, had been published by Brentano's to enthusiastic reviews in March, and by September had gone into its fifth large printing. Their earlier works, a book of fairy tales by Marcet and sketches, short stories, and plays by Emanuel, had been self-printed. Now the professional press was paying them for their efforts, and their own publishing venture was to enter the annals of American cultural history. Haldeman-Julius "turned from the socialist transforming of society to the more acceptable, yet equally nonconformist, task of enlarging the American public's cultural horizons through cheap paperback books. The 1920s and 1930s saw the wide expansion of popular culture; by the mass production of books Haldeman-Julius joined that process, but by introducing the classics and heterodox ideas-sex education, for example-into the process, he gave to it his own stamp" (American Reformers, ed. Alden Whitman [New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1985}, p. 388).

There is evidence that Marcet started a Montessori school for her children as stated in these stories; Emanuel did write a play rejected by the Provincetown Players in which George Bernard Shaw and G. K. Chesterton are characters; a vegetable oil butter substitute and cereal coffee were indeed produced by the Girard Manufacturing Company, a subsidiary of the Appeal; etc., etc., etc. No matter how farfetched some of these details may appear, research will usually show that they are based on fact.

Marcet died of cancer on February 13, 1941; Emanuel accidentally drowned in his swimming pool on July 31, 1951; their publishing house was burned to the ground on July 4, 1978, just months before being declared a National Historic Landmark.

Like their stories, their lives reflect the title of a 1922 Kansas City Journal-Post article: "Kansas Triumphs over Bohemia."

-- Gene DeGruson
Curator of Special Collections (1968-1997)
Pittsburg State University

Last Modified: Aug 27, 2007 - 08:41
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