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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Colleagues and Competitors

Clockwise, from upper left: The Open Road, Mother Earth, The Thistle, Papyrus.

Bruce Calvert, editor. The Open Road. “Pigeon-Roost-in-the-Woods” (Griffith), IN: self-published, September/October 1913. 

A philosopher-crank, Bruce Calvert led organizations including the Harmonic School of Rational Education, the Universal Brotherhood of Man, and the World’s League for a Sane Christmas—the latter advocated restraint in gifting. His bimonthly Open Road, which he dubbed a “Zinelet,” combined various authors’ advocacy, aphorisms, poetry and praise for Bruce Calvert. He excoriated Zoe for living in cities, deeming them an unhealthy “underworld of darkness,” just before he moved from Indiana to Brooklyn. 

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Emma Goldman, editor. Mother Earth. New York: Mother Earth, October 1910. 

One of Zoe’s few female counterparts running small magazines was the activist Emma Goldman, whose monthly Mother Earth (1906-1918) was headquartered near Zoe on East 13th Street. Contributors including Emma Goldman’s lovers, such as the physician Ben Reitman, called for revolutions to help the oppressed—Zoe rejected their advocacy of violence. This issue mourns President William McKinley’s anarchist assassin, Leon Czolgosz, and the martyred Spanish freethinker, Francisco Ferrer. 

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Michael Monahan, editor. The Papyrus. Mount Vernon, NY: self-published, September 1903. 

“Hatred of Sham and Fake” was one motto of The Papyrus (1903-1912), which Irish-born writer Michael Monahan self-published sporadically. He penned most of the texts, including poems, aphorisms, memoir essays and literary criticism. This issue warns readers to avoid Zoe’s first novel, The Color of His Soul, since it resulted from her “habit of making copy out of her friends.” Yet he remained her friend, giving her advice on running The East Side. 

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Lee Fairchild, editor. The Thistle. New York: Croscup & Sterling, April 1902. 

The Thistle (1902-1903), “a journal of opinion, aggressive and digressive,” was edited by Lee Fairchild, a spellbinding orator and best man at Zoe’s 1902 wedding. A divorced westerner turned Manhattanite (like Zoe), he wrote most of the monthly’s political musings, poems, aphorisms (“Mankind is great only in the aggregate”), travelogues, and accounts of New York partygoers and literati. He also praised his own publications (see The Tippler’s Vow in "Ragged Edge Klub"). Other Thistle contributors included Carl Sandburg and Zoe. 

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Grace Miller White. Tess of the Storm Country. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1909. Cover illustration by Howard Chandler Christy. 

The writer Grace White, matron of honor at Zoe’s 1902 wedding, specialized in novels and play novelizations. She was also a Republican campaigner and a divorcee, who supported three children after fleeing a bad marriage in Montana. In this novel (adapted in 1914 for the actor Mary Pickford’s first major film), wealthy landowners in Ithaca, NY (Grace White’s real-life hometown), attempt to evict impoverished fishermen from some prime waterfront. (Spoiler alert: offspring of rich and poor fall in love.) 

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Owen and Leita Kildare. Such a Woman. New York: G. W. Dillingham, 1911. 

The novel’s Irish-American heroine, while her abusive, alcoholic husband is in prison, finds ennobling work helping run a wealthy chaplain’s settlement house. (Spoiler alert: once widowed, she marries the chaplain.) Zoe’s friend Leita Kildare finished this book begun by her ex-husband Owen, who had died in an asylum. Known as “the Bowery Kipling,” he supposedly based writings on his impoverished Irish-American background, but he was actually a Russian immigrant. A photo of Leita’s Ragged Edge book party is over the fireplace.  

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Sophie Irene Loeb. Everyman’s Child. New York: The Century Co., 1920. 

The writer and activist Sophie Loeb headed New York’s Child Welfare Board, gave Ragged Edge Klub talks, and considered Zoe a “universal inspiration dispenser.” Born in Czarist Russia, Sophie Loeb grew up impoverished in Pennsylvania, worked as an artist and teacher, and was briefly married before reinventing herself in New York. Everyman’s Child (photographer unidentified) outlines policies for keeping poor children out of institutional homes and supporting struggling families’ efforts to “keep body and soul together.” 

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