Mary Phelps “Caresse” <I>Jacob</I> Crosby


Mary Phelps “Caresse” Jacob Crosby

New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 24 Jan 1970 (aged 77)
Rome, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy
Burial Boulogne, Departement de la Vendée, Pays de la Loire, France
Memorial ID 39959760 View Source

Poet and publisher. She was born Mary Phelps Jacob, later became Polly Peabody, and finally Caresse Crosby. She received a patent for a design for the first modern brassiere which gained wide acceptance. Along with her second husband, Harry Crosby, and after his suicide, on her own, she published and promoted many of the early modernist writers. Their Black Sun Press produced works by D.H. Lawrence, Kay Boyle, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Hart Crane, among others. She was born in New Rochelle, New York into a prominent New England family. She was the first to design and patent an undergarment named 'Brassiere,' derived from the old French word for 'upper arm'. On November 3, 1914, the U.S. Patent Office issued a patent for the 'Backless Brassiere'. In 1915, at age 24, she married Richard Rogers Peabody. They had two children and divorced. On September 9, 1922, at age 28, she married Harry Grew Crosby. Two days later they moved to France. At first they lived in Paris, then they bought a restored mill in the suburb of Ermenonville, which they called Le Moulin du Soleil ("The Mill of the Sun"). She christened her business with the name Caresse Crosby. At the end of 1924, Harry persuaded Polly to formally change her first name to Caresse. They later founded The Black Sun Press which is famous for having published lavishly bound, typographically impeccable versions of unusual books. They began to publish the works of their Parisian literary friends. This included D. H. Lawrence's The Sun and Escaped Cock (sometimes reprinted under the title The Man Who Died); James Joyce's Tales Told of Shem and Shaun (work — later incorporated into Finnegans Wake; and short stories by Kay Boyle. In 1929, their best year, they published fourteen works by James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound, among others. Caresse published her own book of poetry, Crosses of Gold. She and Harry were known to have an open marriage with many affairs, and on December 10, 1929, Harry committed a murder/suicide involving a young woman with whom he'd had an affair. After Harry Crosby's death, Caresse continued her writing and publishing work at Black Sun. She also established Crosby Continental Editions, a book company that published paperback books by Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Dorothy Parker, among others. In Paris during 1933, Caresse met Henry Miller. His autobiographical book Tropic of Cancer was banned in the U.S. as pornographic. Caresse accepted Henry's offer to write and produce pornographic articles. In 1937, at age 47, she married Selbert Young, a football player nearly twenty years her junior. She opened an art gallery in Washington D.C. and started Portfolio, a magazine about art and literature. She also was politically active and founded the organization Women Against War. In 1950, Caresse divorced Selbert Young and moved to Rocca Sinibalda, Italy, where she planned to create an artist's colony. She published an autobiography in 1953 called The Passionate Years. In the last years of her life, she tried to build a world citizen center that would bring together political leaders and the artistic community in Greece and then in Cyprus. Frustrated by political obstacles, she died in Rome of heart failure in 1970 at age 79, before its completion.

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  • Maintained by: CMWJR
  • Originally Created by: Always with Love
  • Added: 27 Jul 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 39959760
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Phelps “Caresse” Jacob Crosby (20 Apr 1892–24 Jan 1970), Find a Grave Memorial ID 39959760, citing Cimetiere de l'Abbaye de Longchamp, Boulogne, Departement de la Vendée, Pays de la Loire, France ; Maintained by CMWJR (contributor 50059520) .