Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912-1958

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview

APPENDIX III

PRINCIPAL CORRESPONDENTS

GERTRUDE ANTHONY ANDERSON

Anderson's first wife, Margaret Haskett, died in February, 1931, and in the fall of 1933 he married Gertrude Anthony. Gertrude, known to the family and friends as Mab, was born in 1904 and had come to New York as an actress in the twenties, where she married Charles Maynard. She and Anderson met in 1930, when she had a small part in Elizabeth the Queen, and he secured another small part for her in Night Over Taos in 1932. Following their marriage she largely gave up her acting career and spent her time at their home on South Mountain Road, where their daughter Hesper was born in August, 1934. Anderson had few occasions to correspond with Mab, since they were usually together, but war conditions prevented her from going with him to London and North Africa in 1943. His several long letters to her at that time provide a daily account of his activities on the edge of the war and also reveal his devotion to her and loneliness in her absence. She was devoted to him as well but was not entirely satisfied with her life and in the late forties experienced frequent periods of depression, induced perhaps by a feeling of isolation in the farmlike surroundings of their home, worry over their huge income tax debts, and a sense of purposelessness occasioned by the abandonment of her acting career. In 1951, to help meet the tax debt, she took a job as producer with a television series, and in July of 1952 Anderson discovered that she was also having an affair. He left home, returned briefly when her television job fell through, then in November went to Los Angeles, where he was in March, 1953, when she committed suicide at their home. Though her last years were troubled, Mab was a vivacious and capable person, and during the thirties and early forties she and Anderson were unusually happy together. Her infidelity and suicide were a shattering experience for him, and he regained a sense of emotional well-being only after his marriage in May, 1954, to Gilda Oakleaf and their establishment of a home in Stamford, Connecticut.


MARGERY BAILEY

Margery Bailey, born in Santa Cruz in 1891 and a friend of Anderson during their student days at Stanford University, renewed the acquaintance in 1936 when she organized the Dramatists' Alliance at Stanford. She had been at Stanford ( B.A., 1914; M.A. in English, 1916; instructor in English until

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