Mary MacLane’s rediscovery – a chronology (updated/expanded regularly)

Edit: This is based on my notes for our forthcoming study of MacLane’s life, work, and times: A Quite Unusual Intensity of Life.

There isn’t time to tell the story, because I’m in the midst of it – I will tell it, in time. But for now, the day I’ve looked to come since around 1987: Mary MacLane is starting to gain the readers she deserves. I’ll be documenting this rediscovery as it emerges, best as I’m able while working on editing the numerous reprints I’m planning.

It began with the Melville House reprints her 1902 age-19 breakthrough, The Story of Mary MacLane – now under MM’s original title, I Await the Devil’s Coming – and her 1917 deep-plunging introspective journey, I, Mary MacLane, with introductions by estimable writers: Jessa Crispin of Bookslut fame and novelist/memoirist Emily Gould (onetime former co-editor of, respectively; the latter has written of MacLane before.

And so it began.

On 12 March, Emily Gould adapted her introduction for The Rumpus, and the tremors began. Melville House’s expert publicity department had gotten advance copies out, and I was contacted by a writer for The AtlanticHope Reese – for background on an MM article, which duly appeared on 19 March, one day after The New Yorker, by happenstance, had published a blog entry – under MM’s name – with a lengthy excerpt from I Await the Devil’s Coming.

Twitter picked up on The Atlantic and New Yorker pairing, and interest began to feed into itself. Now there is a continuing stream of new readers discovering MM’s work, and the inspiration I’ve found in her since 1985 – and a few others, who have kept her close to their hearts – is spreading. So here’s a list of the reviews and major comments and happenings as they come. It will be kept updated as much as possible, as soon as possible. Going through all the Twitterism will be a project in itself, so that will have to wait.

4 May 2013: “He Loves Me” published at . With this, all of Mary MacLane’s published work – with the exception of a negligible and dubious article on boxing – has been returned to print. The print edition of Human Days is now being edited for publication, and then work will begin on the Mary MacLane biography.

3 May 2013: “Butte Society – ‘The Lady in Green Tights'” published at .

3 May 2013: “Mary MacLane on Marriage (1902)” published at .

26 April 2013: The Devil’s Letters to Mary MacLane, by Sarah H. McKown, published at Introduction by Michael R. Brown

7 April 2013: updated

3 April 2013:

1 April 2013: – my Kindle edition of the unexpurgated text of I Await the Devil’s Coming AKA The Story of Mary MacLane

29 March 2013: – “Prairie Prophet: Mary MacLane’s wild, blasphemous 1902 debut was an early example of the hit confessional memoir” by Rachel Hurn

28 March 2013: – 1st ed., 2d printing of my Mary MacLane anthology, the biggest/best book on her ever done

27 March 2013: (my Kindle reissue of MM’s forgotten 2690-word revisit with the Devil in 1903, “Mary MacLane in Vivid Detail Tells the Transition of her ‘Kind Devil’ of Old”

26 March 2013: (my Kindle reissue of MM’s 3850-word classic 1910 essay, “Men Who Have Made Love to Me”

26 March 2013:

24 March 2013:

21 March 2013:

20 March 2013:

19 March 2013:

18 March 2013:

12 March 2013:

2011-2012 Bojana Novakovic’s musical interpretation, The Story of Mary MacLane – by Herself tours Australia. Videos:

16 December 2011 – My MacLane collection Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader (1st ed., 1st printing) published to Kindle. Limited number would be printed in US (for university use) and Australia (for theatre sales).

23 November 2011 – – I post a 5-hr reading of <i>The Story of Mary MacLane</i>.

March 2011 I, Mary MacLane, play by Joan Melcher (see Melcher, 2007) has sold-out run at Big Sky Repertory Theatre, Butte, Montana.

January 18 -31, 2010: Writings of MM arranged and staged at Another Sky: a festival of women’s voices from the long 19th century, Metropolitan Playhouse, New York. Normandy Sherwood and Katherine Allen recreate segments of Men Who Have Made Love to Me and display them at Playhouse.

2007: I, Mary MacLane, play by Joan Melcher – has staged readings at the Montana Festival of the Book and the High Plains Book Festival.

May 2004: Considerable section on MM in Maverick Autobiographies: Women Writers and the American West, 1900–1936 by Cathryn Halverson (University of Wisconsin Press) – based on Halverson’s PhD dissertation (1997)

2000: PhD dissertation on MacLane: “The unparalleled individuality of me”: The story of Mary MacLane, by Kathryne Beth Tovo (University of Texas at Austin)

1997: PhD dissertation on MacLane and Opal Whiteley: Autobiography, genius, and the American West: the story of Mary MacLane and Opal Whiteley by Cathryn Halverson (University of Michigan)

1 January 1997: Charles H. Kerr issues MM anthology, ed. Penelope Rosemont –

mid-1990s: Patricia Scanlon adapts and stars as Mary MacLane in several New York productions.

24 December 1993: (I publish the first MM anthology ever, ed. Elisabeth Pruitt).

1991: Photo-duplicated edition of The Story issued by Reprint Services, Irvine [California].

Late 1980s: Abandoning Mary by Ada McAllister. Unpublished dream-play based on MacLane’s life 1890s-1910. Written late 1980s, produced irregularly thereafter.

c. August 1985: I find MM in Kaplan (1964) and begin research at local libraries then New York Public Library.

1981: Jonathan Cape (UK) reissues The Story, ed. Michael Yocum, for MM’s 100th birthday. Receives some British notice (e.g., London Times) but little American sales/attention.

c. 1980 The Story and I, Mary MacLane microfilmed by Microfilming Corp. of America for inclusion in the Gerritsen Collection of Women’s History; uncertain whether My Friend Annabel Lee was included.

c. 1979: Alice Walker mentions The Story as a work “that should be better known.”

fl. 1975: Unpublished “Mary MacLane Bibliography” by Phil Lipson, Seattle, 1970s.

1974: Patricia Meyer Spacks reprints sections from The Story and discusses them at some length in

1964: Bert Kaplan reprints passages from The Story in with sympathetic introduction

1958: Jeanette Howard Foster mentions MM as mixedly “sex-variant” in nature in

1945: Christina Stead and William James Blake reprint passages from The Story – probably the first since the 1911 edition – in (intro. by Louis Untermeyer)

6 August 1929: MM dies of tuberculosis complicated by a fibrous uterine tumor.

January 1918: Essanay releases MM’s only silent movie, Men Who Have Made Love to Me.

Mid-1917: MM leaves Butte and moves to Chicago.

1917: Frederick A. Stokes Co. publishes I, Mary MacLane: A Diary of Human Days.

1903: Anonymous publishes The Devil’s Letters to Mary MacLane.

Mid 1903: MM writes for the Denver Post.

1903: Herbert S. Stone & Co. publishes MacLane’s second book, My Friend Annabel Lee.

Later 1902: MM writes for the New York World.

1902: Two parody books are on the market: The Story of Willie Complain and The Story of Lizzie McGuire.

Late April 1902: Herbert S. Stone & Co. publishes The Story of Mary MacLane.

13 January 1901: MM begins I Await the Devil’s Coming.

1899: MM gradates from high school, discovers stepfather has spent legacy from her father; she and her sister are unable to attend Stanford University as planned.

c. 1896: Family moves to Butte, Montana.

1890: MM’s mother remarries, family moves to Great Falls, Montana.

1889: MM’s father dies.

2 May 1881: MM is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

1854: MM’s mother born.

1839: MM’s father born.

c. 1830: MM’s paternal grandfather emigrates from Scotland to Canada.


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