Here's a "house" present I recently uncovered in my files. Amazing, Dorothy. Perhaps HOW(ever) can print it. The letter does bear its sad witness to the demise of Pilgrimage. It was her first book she wrote under those "ideal" conditions. Without Bryher's financial support she probably might never have continued her fine, though diminished work. This is the true essay on A Room of One's Own."
Copy of a letter from Dorothy Richardson (5.10.31) in answer to interviewer about her working conditions, etc., for an article.
Conditions of Work
Ideally, everything that favors collaboration between the conscious and the unconscious.
The best conditions in my experience are winter solitude and inaccessibility. I mean solitude. Servantless, visitorless, and save for a single agent, tradesmanless. Such conditions fell to my lot just once. Deliberately to seek them might be fatal.
Short of this, the avoidance of anything that breaks the momentum of the unconscious once it is set going.
Yet it is possible not merely to remain undisturbed by disturbances, but also to endure the devastating results of a constant breaking off (sic) momentum without quite reaching despair.
Ideal conditions are more easily obtained by men than by women. However provided with service, space, leisure, a woman will not entirely escape transient preoccupations: with the welfare of her entourage, both animate and inanimate.
These preoccupations, plus solicitude, are asset as well as tax, of course. They are nevertheless the main reason why nothing short of a dehumanised solitude will serve the woman at work. And they are, also of course, the secret of the relatively small amount of first-class "art" produced by women not only in the very domestic past, but at any time. All they produce is in the teeth of demands from which most men, for good or ill, are free.
Data: Most of my time is spent in Cornwall in a shack which I run myself. Four months in town in a dilapidated tenement: ditto.
There's for you, Madame. I tell you there's nothing to make of it and you'd better leave me out.
I just went to a lecture at Yale. Two well known Art Critics -- Robert Pincus Witten and a Marxist (whose name escapes me [Craig Owens]). They showed at length a slide of Mina Loy wearing earrings by Marcel Duchamp -- discussed the earrings and all the famous men she had been involved with -- and never mentioned that she was a poet. The show they were for, The Societe Anonyme - 1920--50, led by Duchamp and Katherine Drier, had one woman artist in it (aside from Drier), the Russian Popova. She is not even mentioned in the brochure -- where each artist has a bio!
-- Susan Howe