Friday, August 21, 2009

More About Gertrude Beasley

H. L. Mencken, reviewing My First Thirty Years: This book, I suspect, comes out with a Paris imprint because no American publisher would risk printing it…. The book is a social document of the utmost interest. It presents the first genuinely realistic picture of the Southern poor white trash ever heard of. The author has emancipated herself from her native wallow, but she does not view it with superior sniffs. Instead, she frankly takes us back to it, and tells us all she knows about its fauna, simply and honestly. There is frequent indignation in her chronicle, but never any derision. Her story interests her immensely, and she is obviously convinced that it should be interesting to others. I think she is right.

Don Graham, in his book Lone Star Literature, an Anthology: One of the least known of Texas memoirists, Beasley is easily the most shocking and sensational.

Larry McMurtry: (Her book) is one of the finest Texas books of its era; in my view, the finest.

Robert McAlmon, who published My First Thirty Years: In the publishing of some twenty books only two authors got “temperamental” and they were both Gertrudes, Stein and Beasley, and may it be said, both megalomaniacs with an idea that to know them was to serve them without question about their demands.

Article from the London Telegraph, June 27, 1925: London – Police authorities here today failed in their efforts to bring about the deportation of Miss Edna Beasley, an American newspaperwoman whose home is in Texas, on charges that she is writing an indecent book on American life.

Miss Beasley was arrested for failure to comply with a police regulation requiring the registration of all aliens. Urging their disapproval of her book as sufficient grounds, the police sought a deportation order.

The authoress’s attorney declared her book is merely a portrayal of american life and as such in no way offends decency. He said it would be brought out in France by the same firm which published Joyce’s Ulysses.

Miss Beasley was fined $25 for failing to register as an alien, but the request of the police for her deportation was not complied with. As a newspaper writer, she has worked on the Pacific coast, Chicago and New York papers.

From the 1914 Bronco yearbook, Simmons College, Abilene: Gertrude has made her work by attending the spring, summer and fall terms, and teaching during the winter. She is a very successful teacher. Doesn’t believe in sparing the rod... Her work in building up rural communities is very commendable.