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Hutchins Hapgood,
(1869 - 1944)

American anarchist, journalist

Biographical/historical notes:

Hutchins Hapgood was a journalist & author born in Chicago on May 21, 1869. He made his home in Chicago & Alton, Illinois. He & his wife, Neith Boyce, also a writer & journalist, collaborated on a novel, "Enemies," published in 1916.

Lived in Richmond, NH; Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) English instructor; author of biographies.

Hapgood wrote the Introductory comments for Alexander Berkman's Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist.

His book 'The Spirit of the Ghetto' (1902) was illustrated by Jacob Epstein, who would go on to become a famed painter, sculptor [including the Oscar Wilde tomb in Paris], & stage designer.

While a cold drizzle persisted into Thursday evening, an audience of about 60 people gathered in the musty warmth of the Merrick Barn Theater at Homewood to hear Princeton historian Christine Stansell weave a tale of free-love menage, progressive labor politics and epistolary sex-talk in turn of the century Greenwich Village.

Stansell's lecture, "Talking about Sex: Feminists and Radicals in Early Modernist Culture," kicked off a series of events celebrating March as Women's History Month. The talk was co-sponsored by the Women's Center, the Graduate Representative Organization and the departments of History, English, and Hispanic and Italian Studies.

Speaking from a stage set for the performance of Ibsen's The Lady From the Sea, Stansell told the stories of two "cele-brants" of free love: Hutchins Hapgood, a journalist, and Emma Goldman, a writer and champion of women's freedom. Through the stories of these two free lovers Stansell showed how the radical intellectuals of Greenwich Village saw free love as a political tool that could dissolve boundaries of sex and class. Stansell also traced how free lovers' voluminous "sex talk" produced a new anti-feminist discourse alongside a language expressive of women's sexuality.

Stansell's lecture followed Hapgood and Goldman through the mazes of their respective free love relationships. Hapgood had married his free lover, Neith Boyce, but enjoyed relationships with other women in particular, with "Marie," the subject of his book An Anarchist Woman--while he was away in Chicago writing about the labor movement. The letters which pass back and forth between Hapgood and Boyce detail Hapgood's escapades and create an erotic language that, Stansell explained, casts wife as mistress. Stansell foregrounded the importance of "talk" in "thickening" the erotic atmosphere of the relationship:

Hapgood wrote to Boyce not only of his desire for transgressive sex--"I am naughty tonight..." but also of his "desire to talk and to hear you talk."

In Emma Goldman's case, Stansell explained, letters "careen" between four people: Goldman, her lover Ben Reitman, our friend Hutchins Hapgood eventually Reitman's lover and Almeda Sperry, a lesbian acquaintance of Reitman's who hoped to sleep with Goldman. Goldman's love letters to Reitman reveal both a fascination with his plebeian aura and an exuberant language of sexual expression.

Addressing Reitman as "Hobo," Goldman rhapsodizes about the longings of her "treasure box" and complains that Hobo has neglected "Mount Blanc" and "Mount Jura" (producing delighted laughter, of course, from the audience in Merrick Barn). According to Stansell, Sperry sent her own love letters to Goldman, who then sent them to Reitman who then showed them to Hapgood, thus generating a web of sexual talk within which the free love diad--in this case Goldman and Reitman remained suspended.

Stansell suggests that these free lovers thus created a "space of reciprocity" where hurt and jealousy were considered part of a bygone era.

In the final section of her lecture Stansell showed how the psychological dramas Goldman and Hapgood played out through "talk" became precisely the kind of material brought to the stage in the first Modernist avant-garde one-act plays. But Stansell also showed how "sex talk" in this case Hapgood's novel, Story of a Lover, about his wife's free-love affair also instituted a new anti-feminist language which, she suggested, is still dominant today.

Though Hapgood champions the sexually emancipated woman, Stansell argued that the story nevertheless casts the man in the role of victim, psychologically wounded by the refusal of his emancipated wife to talk about her affair. This leaves us, Stansell concluded, with a new genre: "male feminism with a vengeance."

In the post-talk buzz over baked goat cheese and glasses of wine, Nadja Durbach, a second-year graduate student in history, reflected on Stansell's distinctive scholarship.

"She's a powerful cultural historian with an eye for the way sexuality and class impact and inform each other," she said.

Stansell's lecture was taken from her forthcoming book on the American moderns. She is also the author of the acclaimed City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860, and co-editor of a collection of essays entitled Powers of Desire.

Amy Hungerford, Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 11, 1996


Hutchins Hapgood, journalist and author, was born on May 21, 1869 in Chicago, Illinois.

Hutchins Hapgood received his early education in the Alton public schools. Like his father and two brothers, he attended Harvard University, receiving the B.A. degree in 1892 and the M.A. in 1897. In the interim he spent two years in study at the universities of Berlin and Freiburg, Germany, reading sociology and philosophy, and also traveled extensively. For a time he was an instructor in English composition at Harvard and the University of Chicago. After trying his hand at various jobs, Hapgood eventually decided to become a journalist like his older brother Norman.

Charles Hutchins Hapgood had a tremendous influence upon the character of his sons. Although not a religious man, he imparted to them a strong moral sense, an abhorance of great wealth, and a basic belief in progressive socialism. This, coupled with a liberal Harvard education and appropriate connections, led Hutchins Hapgood into the thick of muckraking journalism.

His first newspaper job was with the New York Commercial Advertiser under the tutelage of Lincoln Steffens. Here he met Steffen's assistant, Neith Boyce, whom he married on June 22, 1899.

In 1904 Hapgood became the drama critic for the Chicago Evening Post.

Returning to New York, he later became an editorial writer for the Evening Post, the Press, and the Globe. While maintaining his career as a journalist, Hapgood also wrote books. During the first decade of the twentieth century, he produced the bulk of his major works, including Paul Jones (1901), The Spirit of the Ghetto (1902), The Autobiography of a Thief (1903), The Spirit of Labor (1907), An Anarchist Woman (1909), and Types from City Streets (1910). The anonymously published Story of a Lover (1919), describing the "open" marriage which he and Neith maintained, was initially suppressed as pornographic. Hapgood's last great work was his autobiography, A Victorian in the Modern World (1933).

Hutchins Hapgood was a close friend of Mabel Dodge Luhan and an habitue of her salon at 23 Fifth Avenue. Other close friends included Bernard and Mary Berenson, Jacob Epstein, Max Eastman, Anton Johanson, Walter Lippmann, Robert Morss Lovett, Gertrude and Leo Stein, Alfred Stieglitz, Maurice Sterne, and Mark Sullivan. He and Neith were founding members of the Provincetown Players.

Hapgood's career declined following the death of his eldest child, Boyce, in 1918 and the end of the muckracking era. The last several years of his life he spent with Neith in Key West, Florida, at their home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and on a farm in Richmond, New Hampshire.

Hutchins Hapgood died on November 19, 1944, in Provincetown, and was buried in the family plot in East Cemetery, Petersham, Massachusetts.

For further biographical information, see The Hapgoods: Three Earnest Brothers (1977) by Michael D. Maraccio and A Victorian in the Modern World (1933) by Hutchins Hapgood.


Neith Boyce's first full-time job in journalism was as a reporter with the New York Commercial Advertiser, where she was the assistant to the city editor, Lincoln Steffens. She married Hutchins Hapgood on June 22, 1899.

Neith soon left journalism and devoted her time to writing and to the demands of motherhood.

Her major works include: The Forerunner (1903), The Folly of Others (1904), Eternal Spring (1906), The Bond (1908), Two Sons (1917), Proud Lady (1923), Harry: A Portrait (1923), and Winter's Night (1927).

Together with her husband, Neith socialized with the leading members of the artistic world of the United States (both resident and expatriate) during the first two decades of the twentieth century.


Hutchins Hapgood, ca. 1916

"'This is more than a picture show. And one can learn here not only about art but about everything. It stirs us to think about politics and industry and social relations and human values, fills us with a wonder as to whether we may not be keener about all those things than we have been, whether we have not been sunk in a dogmatic slumber. . . . An artist told me on my last visit that this exhibition was the only event that had ever made him want to live fifty years longer. We had been talking of the really wonderful way in which the public had responded; the vital way . . . The artist . . . was moved by the sudden realization that the public would respond to anything that is alive, even if it is art. He had his doubt of the crowd removed, shattered."

New York American, 1913

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Included among the artistic and literary figures with whom the Hapgoods correspondended are Ray Stannard Baker, Arthur F. Bentley, Bernard and Mary Berenson, Bayard Boyesen, George Cram Cook, John Dos Passos, Theodore Dreiser, Max Eastman, Susan Glaspell, Hippolyte Havel, Robert Herrick, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Lewis Mumford, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Reed, Gertrude and Leo Stein, Maurice Sterne, Alfred Stieglitz, Carl Van Vechten, and Ella Winter. Hutchins's social and political activism is reflected in the correspondence of Abraham Cahan, John Collier, Edward J. Flynn, Emma Goldman, Anton Johannsen, Charles and Marguerite Kaeselau, Matthew and Katherine Schmidt, and Lincoln Steffens.

During the final years of their lives, Hutchins and Neith worked on a project which aimed to relate the story of the Hapgood family to the history of the United States. This work, entitled The Story of an American Family, was eventually published in 1953 (after the death of both Hutchins and Neith). It covered the years 1648 to 1917. In compiling the research materials for this book, Hutchins and Neith acquired copies of significant correspondence from prominent Hapgood family members, most notably that between Norman Hapgood, Hutchins's older brother, and Supreme Court justices Louis D. Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter, Learned Hand, and presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The folder of Theodore Roosevelt's correspondence reflects the relationship between the president and Colonel Henry H. Boyce, Neith's father.

Scattered throughout the series is correspondence of close personal friends whom Hutchins and Neith knew from Key West, Florida, Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Richmond, New Hampshire. These include Edward and Peggy Bruce, Oliver and Ada Chafee, John and Elizabeth Cowles, Colin and Eva Cruikshank, John and Jane Dewey, Elsie Everts, Leslie Hopkinson, Russell and Katrina Johnson, William and Sally Johnstone, Bill and Lucy L'Engle, Harry Lorber (their personal physician), Eddie MacGowan, Frances Stanwood, Lucile Swan, Ridgley and Olivia Torrence, and Sam and Adele Wolman.

The Hapgoods Family papers are held by Yale, & has detailed information,"10"&q=


Hutchins Hapgood, a co-founder of the Provincetown Players, travelled to Japan with Leo Stein, (who with his sister Gertrude would become an important collector and patron of modern painters), toured Japan together for several months after their graduations from Harvard in 1892. Their longest stays were at Kyoto, a center for ancient Japanese history and art, three weeks in all, and Tokyo.

Hutchins Hapgood. A.MS. itinerary of trip to Japan. Ca. 1895-96.


This new migration of artists, joined by journalists, social reformers, and intellectuals, resulted in what has become known as the Bohemian Era. Emma Goldman, John Reed, Margaret Sanger and Hutchins Hapgood, women and men who were interested in radical ideas such as those espoused by Freud, Marx and Nietzsche, joined artists like John Sloan and William Glackens. All sought a new way of life, to live counter to the norms of American society, which they saw as constricting and anathema to creative thought.


Susan Glaspell and her husband, Jig Cook, team up with Neith Boyce and her husband, Hutchins Hapgood to create America's first theatre dedicated to the production of new American plays. Starting in each other's homes in the summer of 1915, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, they move into an old fish shack on the wharf owned by labor writer, Mary Heaton Vorse. When the undiscovered Eugene O'Neill rolls into town the following summer with a trunk full of scripts the Players know they're on to something big.

The Art of Conversation: Salons are all the rage, from Gertrude Stein's in Paris to that of Mabel Dodge in New York City. Sit in on these conversations or those at Heterodoxy or at the Liberal Club and one is likely to find Emma Goldman chatting anarchy with Isadora Duncan, dancing by Bessie Smith giving birth to the blues as Margaret Sanger agitates on behalf of family planning and Lillian Wald for settlement houses...


When you ask Matt Maher, owner of the venerable McSorley's Old Ale House, for a brief history of the 145-year-old bar, he hands you an article from Harper's Magazine -- from 1913.

"Here, read this," Maher says. "Nothing's changed since this was written."

Indeed, it's still true, as Hutchins Hapgood wrote 86 years ago, that "entering the saloon, one seems to leave present in a quieter and more aesthetic place." And, "wrapped in the shadows of tradition, one feels a little solemn, as in a quiet retreat."


  • The Spirit of the Ghetto, 1902

  • Autobiography of a Thief, 1903

  • Spirit of Labor, 1907

  • An Anarchist Woman, 1909

  • Types from City Streets, 1910

  • Enemies, 1916, novel, co-written with his wife

  • Story of a Lover, 1919

  • A Victorian in the Modern World, autobiography, 1939

    His books are currently out of print.

  • Review of FREDERICK DOUGLASS "THE BOOKMAN'S TABLE" By: Hutchins Hapgood
  • David Minter, "Hutchins Hapgood," American National Biography, NY: Oxford University, 10 (1999): 34-5. Biographical entry

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