Claire’s CC Assignment A

Frances Gregg, the woman behind Fayne Rabb in HERmione and Asphodel, was born in 1884. At the time she met H.D. she was living with her widowed mother in Philadelphia (Guest 22). H.D. met Gregg through their mutual friend Nan Hoyt. The meeting took place in 1909, after H.D. had left Bryn Mawr (Guest 22). Since Ezra Pound had left for Europe earlier in the year, H.D. had been searching for a new companion. H.D. found in Gregg a friend with similar beliefs and interests, or as Barbara Guest called Gregg, a “twin and her love” (Guest 23). John Cowper Powys and Llewellyn Powys both described Gregg as androgynous, a description echoed by H.D. in Hermione (Guest 24). This is an image that Gregg played up: while on her honeymoon in Venice, Gregg spent much of the time dressed as a boy (Guest 38). Though H.D. delighted in her time with Gregg, her parents were critical of their relationship, which they viewed as worse than her relationship with Pound (Guest 25). Despite their dislike, they allowed H.D. to travel to Europe with Gregg and her mother.

The 1911 trip to Europe was rocky; H.D. and Gregg’s mother often fought over Gregg. Gregg’s mother claimed that H.D. was “robbing the widow of her orphan” and H.D. accused her of trying to restrict Gregg’s freedom (Guest 28). The relationship between H.D. and Gregg was strained as well; before leaving for Europe, Gregg admitted to being involved with Pound. Gregg wrote in her diary “Two girls in love with each other, and each in love with the same man. Hilda, Ezra, Frances” (Guest 26). H.D. eventually parted from Gregg and her mother in order to live in Europe. One year later, Gregg wrote to H.D. to inform her that she would be in London with her new husband (Guest 36). Gregg had married Louis Wilkinson, a lecturer who was booked to speak in Brussels. Gregg asked that H.D. accompany them to Brussels to keep her company while her husband worked (Guest 36). H.D. agreed to go but was physically stopped at the train station by Ezra Pound. Guest says that this was a wise decision on Pound’s part and that H.D. most likely felt that Gregg had “triumphed” over her by getting married first (Guest 37).

H.D. and Gregg did not see each other for more than a decade after her marriage to Wilkinson, but Gregg remained an influence on H.D.’s life. According to Guest, H.D. would confuse her female lovers with Frances (Guest 120). Later, when she became friends with the writer Harold P Collins, H.D. stridently defended Gregg when he questioned her actions (Guest 149). H.D. eventually came across Gregg in the 1920s, when Gregg was living in greatly reduced circumstances (Guest 178). Her marriage to Wilkinson ended in 1920 and Gregg was sharing a single bedroom with her mother in London (Guest 38). Though H.D. defended Gregg to Collins, she was wary of befriending her again due to Gregg and Wilkinson’s scathing portrayal of H.D. in their 1916 book The Buffoon (Guest 178). They eventually crossed paths again in 1926. Gregg introduced Kenneth MacPherson to H.D., whom Bryher later married and H.D. fell in love with (Guest 179).

H.D. and Gregg continued writing to one another until 1934 (Guest 230). H.D. entrusted their letters to Silvia Dobson; Guest believes that she did this in order to conceal the letters from Bryher (Guest 229). This does not hint that theirs was a particularly close relationship. When Gregg suggested that Perdita meet her son Oliver, H.D. passionately refused the offer (Guest 229). H.D. did briefly entertain the thought of moving Gregg and her family from Plymouth after an explosion in the area, but decided that it was ultimately too expensive and complicated of an idea (Guest 229). Contact between the two appeared to have ceased after 1934 and in 1941, Gregg, her mother, and her daughter were killed in the bombing of Plymouth (Guest 230).

Though they spent relatively little time in one another’s company, Gregg had a profound influence on H.D.’s life. Gregg is the main character in HERmione and causes the George-Hermione-Fayne triangle that helped bring on Hermione’s emotional breakdown. Even though she is not as prevalent in Asphodel, Fayne’s presence causes Hermione’s emotional turmoil. Fayne’s actions are not totally equal to Gregg’s, though Guest takes that view. Rather, that H.D. chose to portray in Gregg such a way shows the impact that she had on H.D.’s young life and her development as a writer. H.D.’s continued correspondence with Gregg in the 1920s and 1930s shows that she was willing to forgive Gregg for The Buffoon and their earlier falling-out; however, Gregg’s life was much diminished compared to what it had once been and it is possible that H.D. saw her as a relic of her old life. Her insistence on keeping her correspondence with Gregg secret and refusing to mix their families shows H.D.’s resistance to fully incorporating Gregg back into her life.

Works Cited

Guest, Barbara. Herself Defined: The Poet H.D. and Her World. Garden City: Doubleday, 1984. Print

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