EDWARD ESTLIN CUMMINGS (“Estlin”) is born October 14 in family residence 104 Irving Street, Cambridge, Mass., the son of EDWARD and REBECCA CLARKE CUMMINGS. His energetic, versatile, and highly articulate father teaches sociology and political science at Harvard in the 1890’s and in 1900 is ordained minister of the South Congregational Church, Unitarian, in Boston. The Irving Street household will include at various times Grandmother Cummings, MISS JANE CUMMINGS (“Aunt Jane”), EEC’s maternal uncle, GEORGE CLARKE, and younger sister ELIZABETH (“Elos”), who eventually marries Carlton Qualey. EEC attends Cambridge public schools, vacations in Maine and at the family summer home, Joy Farm, in Silver Lake, N.
H. “Ever since I can remember I’ve written; ; painted or made drawings.” 1911 Enters Harvard College, specializing in Greek and other languages He contributes poems to Harvard periodicals, is exposed to the work of EZRA POUND and other modernist writers and painters, and forms lasting friendships with JOHN DOS PASSOS (“Dos”), R.
STEWART MITCHELL (“The Great Awk”), EDWARD NAGLE (stepson of the sculptor Gaston Lachaise), SCOFIELD THAYER (“Sco”), JAMES SIBLEY WATSON (“Sib”), S. FOSTER DAMON, GILBERT SELDES, M. R. WERNER (“Morrie”), JOSEPH FERDINAND GOULD (“Joe”), ROBERT HILLYER. 1915 Graduates magna cum laude; delivers commencement address on “The New Art.” 1916 Receives MA from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
1917 In New York. Lives at 21 East 15th Street with the painter ARTHUR WILSON (“Tex”). Works for P.
F. Collier & Son. In April joins Norton-Haries Ambulance Corps. Sails for France on La Touraine, meeting on board another Harjes-Norton recruit, WILLIAM SLATER BROWN, who will remain his lifelong friend. After several weeks in Paris EEC and Brown are assigned to ambulance duty on Noyon sector.
Brown’s letters home arouse suspicions of French army censor. On September 21, he is arrested together with Cummings, who refuses to dissociate himself from his friend. Both are sent to the concentration camp at La Ferte Mace, where they submit to further interrogation. Following strenuous efforts on his father’s part, EEC is released December 19. Eight Harvard Poets published, with EEC among contributors. 1918 Arrives in New York from France January 1. Moves with W. Slater Brown to 11 Christopher Street.
Drafted during summer; stationed at Camp Devens until his discharge following Armistice. Moves with Brown to 9 West 14th Street, New York. Meets Elaine Orr, whom he will later marry and who is the mother of his only child, Nancy (“Mopsy”), now Mrs. Kevin Andrews. The marriage will end in divorce.
1920 In New York. Works seriously at his painting. Friendship with GASTON LACHAISE. First number of the new Dial, owned by Scofield Thayer and J.
Sibley Watson, with R. Stewart Mitchell as managing editor, comes out in January. Other friends connected with The Dial at various times and in various capacities: PAUL ROSENFELD, music critic; HENRY McBRIDE, art critic; GILBERT SELDES, MARIANNE MOORE, KENNETH BURKE, EDMUND WILSON. On his father’s urging, EEC begins, in September, to write The Enormous Room, an account of his and Brown’s experiences in the La Ferte Mace prison.
1921 Travels to Portugal and Spain with Dos Passos, then to Paris, which remains his European headquarters for the next two years. Friends made during these years include EZRA POUND, HART CRANE, JOHN PEALE BISHOP, LEWIS GALANTIERE, GORHAM B. MUNSON, MALCOLM COWLE, ARCHIBALD MacLEISH. 1922 In Rapallo and Rome during early summer; meets parents in Venice in late summer. The Enormous Room published in mutilalated version by Boni and Liveright, New York. 1923 Summer at Guethary, France.
Back in New York in autumn, moves to 4 Patchin Place, which remains his New York address until his death. Tulips and Chimneys published. 1924 In Paris on first of several short trips he makes to Europe during the later twenties. 1925 Wins Dial Award- Begins to write and draw for Vanity Fair. & and XLI Poems published. 1926 His father killed in an accident.
is 5 published. 1927 Marries Anne Barton; this marriage also ends in divorce. Him published. 1928 Him produced in New York by Provincetown Players, April 18, James Light, director. 1930 No Title published.
1931 Trip to Russia. CIOPW, a book of pictures in Charcoal, Ink, Oil, Pastel, and Watercolors published. Viva