Margarite Frances Baird

Margarite Frances Baird

Margarite Frances Baird was also known as Peggy Baird, Peggy Johns and Peggy Cowley. She was a landscape painter, but was most significant for her participation in the literary and artistic life of her day. She was married to Orrick Johns about 1915, traveled with him to Europe [cite book |title=Time of Our Lives |last=Johns |first=Orrick |year=1937 |publisher=Stackpole |location=New York ] . During this period, she had a "fling" with Eugene O'Neill [cite book |title=Eugene O'Neill: Beyond Mourning and Tragedy |last=Black |first=Stephen A. |year=2002 |publisher=Yale University press. ISBN |isbn=0300093993 |pages=p. 201 ]

Peggy Baird Johns was a friend and correspondent of Katherine Anne Porter and Dorothy Day.

Baird was part of the women's suffrage movement. In 1917, she invited Dorothy Day to join the National Woman's Party [cite book |title=American Catholic Pacifism |last=Klejment |first=Anne |coauthors=Roberts, Nancy L. |year=1996 |publisher=Greenwood Publishing Group |isbn=027594784X |pages=pp. 21-22 |url=,M1 ] . They were jailed for their protests. She remained friends with Day and visited her at various times throughout the years.

She later married Malcolm Cowley and was divorced from him in 1931.

Once estranged from Malcolm Cowley -- though not yet divorced -- she moved to Mexico, where her long friendship with poet Hart Crane turned into Crane's first and last (documented) heterosexual affair. [cite book |title=Time and the Literary |last=Newman |first=Karen |coauthors=Clayton, Jay;Hirsch, Marianne |year=2002 |publisher=Routledge |isbn=0415939607 |pages=p. 241 |url= ] [cite book |title=The Broken Tower |last=Mariani |first=Paul |pages=p. 377] 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 'broken tower' can be read as a defeated phallus), the poem was written just months before his suicide by water. [See, for instance, Harold Bloom's introduction to Mark Simon's edition of Crane's poems, published by Liveright (2000), p. xxx.]

Baird was with him on the boat returning them to New York, and she figures briefly, but poignantly, in the events leading up to his death. [See the last chapter in Mariani, as well as articles on "The Broken Tower" and Hart Crane's sexuality.] Almost thirty years later, she wrote about this period in an article for "Venture", "The Last Days of Hart Crane." [Vol 4., No. 1, 1961]


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