Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s

By Malcolm Cowley; Donald W. Faulkner | Go to book overview

VIII: Echoes of a Suicide

1: Letter Left on a Dressing Table

Harry Crosby and his wife arrived in New York during the first week of December 1929 and Hart Crane gave a party for them in his room on Brooklyn Heights. It was a good party, too; Harry smiled a lot--you remembered his very white teeth--and had easy manners and, without talking a great deal, he charmed everyone. On the afternoon of December 10 he borrowed the keys to a friend's studio in the Hotel des Artistes. When he failed to answer the telephone or the doorbell that evening, the friend had the door broken down and found Harry's body with that of a young society woman, Mrs. Josephine Bigelow.

The double suicide was a front-page story, but the newspapers could find no reason for it and the police had no explanation to offer. Harry was young, just six months past his thirty-first birthday; he was rich, happily married and, except for a slight infection of the throat, in the best of health. All the usual motives were lacking. He had lost a little money in the stock market but did not brood about it; he had love affairs but spoke of breaking them off; he was not dissatisfied with his progress as a poet and a publisher. Nor did he suffer from any sense of

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