Bragdon Annotated Correspondence, 1921




1.  January 3, 1921

Claude Bragdon to Fritz Trautman
Addressed from: Tavern Club, 4 Boylston Place

Bragdon opens by saying that Walter [Hampden] is not well and "doing only a fair business, but undiscouraged."  Bragdon has just seen [Crow?] and plans to "lunch here presently" with Bacon[1].  He mentions that his talks in New York went well and that he has met many new people, including Russian painter Roerich[2], who was familiar with Uspenskii[3]. Bragdon also mentions seeing Perrine[4] and that "Walter will be in Rochester with his company week of 12th." 

2.   February 17, 1921

Mary Johnston to Claude Bragdon
Addressed from:  Three Hills, P.O Warm Springs, Virginia

Johnston states that after reading Hinton's[5] work and finding "idea and terminology that suited" her, she read Bragdon's Primer of Higher Space and Fourth Dimensional Vistas, which she has now recommended to fifty people.  She is currently re-reading Bragdon's presentation of Uspenskii's Tertium Organum and praises Bragdon for his own work and also for helping Uspenskii's book.

3.   February 26, 1921

Claude Bragdon to Fritz Trautman
Addressed from: The Stafford Hotel, Charles Street North at Madison Street, Baltimore

Bragdon tells Trautman that after the first dress and scenery rehearsal of Macbeth, he finally has time to write.  Hampden has gone to "rest and recuperate" before the show's opening after a long rehearsal of scenes and discussion of lighting effects – from 1 p.m. until midnight – the day before.  Bragdon tells Trautman that he is pleased with his work, stating, "it's as far beyond Hamlet as Hamlet is beyond "Listen Lester" because "for the first time I had the cooperation of real artists."  He mentions Pond, Butler and Brigman as helping with staging and "Miss Hicks and Sovey" as costume designers.  Bragdon made some of the props and accessories and the result is "pure beauty free of every taint of commercialism."  Bragdon will stop over in New York on his way home to "take up the lighting of St. Mark's."

4.   March 28, 1921

Claude Bragdon to Fritz Trautman
Addressed from:  The Dixieland Inn, Jon R at Woodward, Detroit, Michigan

This letter opens with a sense of excitement over the opening of Macbeth as Walter is "rapidly mounting to the idea" of opening as soon as he can get a New York theater, which Bragdon speculates will be the 18th, or maybe as early as the 11th.  He states that Macbeth is more beautiful than Hamlet, with "amazing moments, impossible to forget."  He describes the lighting of the banquet table and describes the scenery of the banquet murder scene.  The Burnam Wood scene is also "very fine."  Bragdon has been invited to go to Mrs. Van Deghe's place today, where she will entertain members of the company. 

Bragdon is to speak to Liagel's family and then come home with him.  He may take the Hampden children, May and Paul, with him.  He describes them as living "a hellish life" with their parents always on duty at the theater.  Hampden has lost $6,000 in three weeks and is "feeling particularly poor."  Bragdon mentions the children coming with him for a couple of days and says they are "dear and good and charming."  Bragdon will stay in New York until Walter's opening—the Hamlet scenery is in bad shape and must be refinished.  Things in the company are much better than when Bragdon arrived and he takes part of the credit because he has worked to "harmonize things and people."  Bragdon believes that Mabel depresses Hampden and that he ought to get a "beautiful women" to take the parts that she now takes (Ophelia, Juliet, Jessica).  "Johnnie Harrison did wonderfully as Ophelia."

5.   April 3, 1921

Claude Bragdon to James Sibley Watson
Addressed from:  Claude Bragdon, Architect, 414 Cutler Building, Rochester, NY

Watson may make any use he pleases of Bragdon's P.O. borders.  Bragdon's dearest wish is to "see it speared over the surface of the earth."  Bragdon leaves for New York tonight to speak at the Drama League annual dinner and Macbeth opens at the Shubert Theatre on the 18th.  "I know that I have produced something of great beauty, but will the critics agree?"

6.   April 10, 1921

Peter Uspenskii to Claude Bragdon
Addressed from:  Constantinople

Uspenskii is replying to two letters sent by Bragdon, one containing 19 pounds.  He thanks Bragdon for the money, but is losing considerably on "transmitting from dollars to pounds and from pounds to Turquish liras."  If the check had been in dollars, then for 75 dollars, Uspenskii would have received 145 liras, but for 19 pounds, he has only 111 liras.  Uspenskii speaks of coming to America to give lectures, but is afraid he will end up in the same situation he currently deals with—no possibility for work.  Rather than regular lectures, he is planning courses for people "having already necessary preparation."  He hopes to find a Russian audience in New York and give his lectures in Russian, then put them in writing.  Though he know it will be difficult for him to give these lectures because of language barriers and financial difficulties, he feels he has new ideas to present and feels that these ideas will appeal to people, especially those who have "tried already all sorts of ways of thinking, know all systems and methods and realize already the futility of all that."  Uspenskii feels that he is not alone and that more people will come after him with new "systems of inner culture" and "new fields of action in the domain of art."  Uspenskii will await further instruction on where to take further editions of J.O. in English.  He asks Bragdon to send a copy of the Kinemsdrama as soon as possible, as he thinks he will be able to publish it in English and in French.  Uspenskii has a copy of Bragdon's "Man the Square" and didn't realize that he is acquainted with the author.

7.   April 18, 1921

Claude Bragdon to Fritz Trautman
Addressed from:  New York

Hampden has had "psychic rotations and brain storms," but lacks faith in his productions.  Bragdon has a good effect on Hampden.  Sovey[6] and Bragdon have improved the production on its physical side, now the rest is up to Hampden and his company.  Bragdon mad a trip with Sovey to Mt. Vernon by boat and had a wonderful experience—during the matinee of Merchant of Venice, they ran Macbeth four times in Washington and attendance steadily increased.  Bragdon saw Ruland B. Woodward at one performance and Walter made $ 3,000 on the week.  Bragdon will attend Father's Week at Kent on Saturday and plans to be in Nashville May 4 and 5.

8.   May 23, 1921

Claude Bragdon to James Sibley Watson
Addressed from:  Claude Bragdon, Architect, 414 Cutler Building, Rochester, NY

Bragdon has met a "real live Viscountess" (Lady Rothermere), who seems to be interested in Sibley's work and will "breathe new life in the shape of financial backing" into a similar enterprise in England.  She wants to meet Sibley and Bragdon encourages him to ask her to dinner.  "She is passionately interested in T.O."

9.   May 23, 1921

Mary Lilian Rothermere to Claude Bragdon
Addressed from:  Wardman Park Hotel, Connecticut Avenue and Woodland Road, Washington, D.C.

Rothermere has written to Uspenskii and has also asked his bankers to send him one hundred pounds in Constantinople.  She lunched with "our Ambassador" [Sir Auckland Geddes][7] this morning and brought up "the book."  Rothermere asks Bragdon to send a copy immediately to Geddes at the British Embassy in Washington.  Geddes and Rothermere have reached the conclusion that Uspenskii must come to London at once.

10. June 19, 1921

Claude Bragdon to Harry Blackburn
Addressed from:  484 West Seventh Street, Plainfield, New Jersey

"Song and light was an absolute and complete success" and Bragdon is moving on to his next project after receiving a letter from Guthrie[8] telling him to go ahead with St. Mark's lighting.  Bragdon asks Harry to send him both the architectural blueprints and his lighting layout. 

11. June 1921

Claude Bragdon to Harry Blackburn (c/o Mr. Harry Parsons)
Addressed from:  484 West Seventh Street, Plainfield, New Jersey

"Here's a rather pathetic letter from Highley telling why he didn't come to R."  Bragdon suggests that Blackburn write him.  Bragdon's things arrived and everything looks promising.  He likes the people and the spirit of cooperation.

12. June 20, 1921

Peter Uspenskii to Claude Bragdon
Addressed from:  Constantinople

Uspenskii received a letter from Bragdon on May 27 and finds other reasons why he must go to England.  He received a telegram from Lady Rothermere saying that a letter on the subject of T.O. is coming.  Uspenskii is currently working on T.O. and will send a copy in two or three weeks.  He expresses concerns over the middle part of the book.  Bragdon arranged for Bessaraboff to return "Kinemodreams," but this has not happened yet.  Uspenskii's friend A.T. Luoff went to New York about a week ago and will tell Bragdon about Theosophical works they are trying to begin.  Uspenskii hopes Bragdon will give Luoff advice and acquaint him with people "that might be useful to him."

13. July 5, 1921

Claude Bragdon to Frances Bacon
Addressed from:  Claude Bragdon, Architect, 414 Cutler Building, Rochester, NY

Tertium Organum has been a "stupefying success" and Bragdon gets letters about it from all over the world.  Bragdon has been busy with Macbeth, which received nothing but praise—"the apparitions and the ghosts of the kings and the witches were said to be better handled than ever before in the history of the stage."  He has also been working on Song and Light in Plainfield, NJ on the 18th of June, which turned out to be beautiful.  Bragdon hopes there will be a Song and Light in Central Park in September.  He is also busy working on "lighting a church like a theatre for the first time in the history of the world so far as I know."  Bragdon believes that once it is started, every church will have the necessary equipment, but for now Guthrie is the only man with "nerve enough to turn me loose."  Bragdon is also working on sketches of a bridge in Canada with Barber[9] as engineer.  Though things are moving slowly, he hopes it will be built someday.  Bragdon also has another book[10] ready for the press, "small but important."

In the spiritual realm, Bragdon is on "good terms" with himself.  He feels a growing responsibility about his boys and knows they need a "mother's oare."  Bragdon feels inadequate to provide this for them.

14. August 7, 1921

Peter Uspenskii to Claude Bragdon
Addressed from:  Constantinople

Uspenskii is headed to London and is writing on the way to Marseilles.  Lady Rothermere has sent him money for the trip and Uspenskii asks Bragdon to send him a note about Rothermere and about other people mentioned in his last letter.  Uspenskii has finished revision of T.O., but did not send it yet because he had no other Russian copy. 

15. August 15, 1921

Peter Uspenskii to Claude Bragdon
Addressed from:  London

Uspenskii has now been in London for five days and has seen Lady Rothermere, but has not yet spoken much with her.  He is sending the first half of Tertium Organum, with corrections and hopes to send the rest in about a week.

16. September 7, 1921

Claude Bragdon to Harry Blackburn, also Fritz Trautman

Bragdon had a wonderful trip and the boys are now at the farm [Kirk Brice's?] and Bragdon is "attacking my lighting problem."  Ledoux[11] was with them for a day at Chatham Bars.  Saw Walter, Highley, [Cushz?], and Sovey yesterday.  Mary will go with them this year, as she didn't get the part in Don Juan.  Bragdon met Bobby Jones[12] on the street.  He attended the Greenwich Village Follies last night with Kirk and thought the performance terrible.

17. September 24, 1921

Peter Uspenskii to Claude Bragdon
Addressed from:  London

Mrs. E. Arnold acquainted Uspenskii with Mr. W. Stallybrass, manager of the publishing firm Kegan Paul, Trench Tribner & Co.  The firm is affiliated with Boutledge and seems to be interested in Uspenskii's books.  The publishing company is well known and publishes on psychoanalysis.  Uspenskii made preliminary arrangements with them regarding the publishing of Wisdom of Gods and Fragments of Unknown Teaching.  Uspenskii was offered 15 % royalties with the cost of translation deducted from the royalties and feels that this is a "very good arrangement."  Uspenskii plans to stay in London another month and then will go to Prague or Berlin to try to arrange publishing of his books in Russian.  Uspenskii hopes to send his wife to Prague, where life is much cheaper and where they have many friends.  He asks Bragdon to collect money for him and tells him he is grateful for what he has done.  In a post-script, Uspenskii says that Kegan Paul is just one option, but that he thinks it may be a good choice because books are "considerably cheaper" in England.

18. October 14, 1921

Peter Uspenskii to Claude Bragdon

Uspenskii wants to know the exact conditions of transferring T.O. to another firm and thinks it is possible to get them to pay a "certain sum" in advance of royalties, as this is "extremely important" to him.  He has thought about printing two editions, one around five dollars and the other "cheap."  He again asks Bragdon to write him concerning the financial standing of T.O. and when he can expect payments.

19. October 29, 1921

Peter Uspenskii to Claude Bragdon
Addressed from:  55a Gwendwr Road, West Kensington

Uspenskii thanks Bragdon for sending money to him and to his wife.  He has begun a set of lectures at Lady Rothermere's home and another set for the Russian public.  Uspenskii is working on his new books and thinks he will be able to stay in London for some time.  He is having trouble deciding something definite in regard to publication of T.O. in England and suggests that Bragdon not enter into any contracts with publishing firms for a long time, as circumstances may change.  He again suggests two editions, one cheaper than the other.  Luoff is in difficult circumstances and Uspenskii wonders if Bragdon can find him a more suitable job.

In a post-script, Uspenskii asks to say a few words about the Oracle.  His name is mentioned there and he also had the same experiences himself 12 or 13 years ago.  He spoke occasionally with "voices."

20. November 16, 1921

Peter Uspenskii to Claude Bragdon
Addressed from:  55a Gwendowr Road, West Kensington

Uspenskii is pleased that his book is selling well, but is confused by some of Bragdon's figures.  He feels that he has not received enough money in royalties according to the number of books sold.  Dutton's proposal is not clear enough for him to decide upon.  He worries that the proposal gives Dutton sole copyright of the English translation in return only for a royalty on sales, but leaves the matter to Bragdon's discretion.  Uspenskii wants to reserve the right to a cheap European edition in any case.

21. 1921

Claude Bragdon to Fritz Trautman
Addressed from:  Sixty Wall Street

Bragdon asks how long Trautman will be at the far, as Bill may be coming to see him on the way to Detroit.  Things are moving quickly—Ledoux reversed public opinion on himself and his mission.  After a Community Sing in the Park, he is off to see the President in Washington.  The letter is written by Mr. Adams, "the latest edition to our staff."

22. 1921

Claude Bragdon to Harry Blackburn
Addressed from:  111 E. 54th Street, NYC

Bragdon asks Harry to make note of a $100 check sent to Uspenskii, making the total to him around $325.  He asks Harry to send review copies of the Oracle books.  Ledoux is now in Washington and will try to see Hoover today.

23. December 28, 1921

Claude Bragdon to Fritz Trautman
Addressed from:  Hotel Belmont, Forty-Second Street and Park Avenue, NYC

Kirk had a big Christmas party, but Bragdon and his sons ate with Harry, Bragdon's brother-in-law, his wife, three children, and three maiden aunts.  Bragdon has sent a play to Miss Lewiston of the Neighborhood Playhouse and also to the Theater Guild and hopes it will be produced.  Ledoux was arrested in front of the Pan American building in Washington and is undoing all the good work he did at the Arms Conference.  Kirk has written to say that he will no longer back Ledoux.  Bobby Jones paid a visit and met Harry Barnhart and Norman Geddes[13].










  • Trautman (1)
  • Hampden (1)
  • Bacon (1)
  • Roerich (1)
  • Uspenskii (1)
  • Perrine (1)
  • Mary Johnston (2)
  • Hinton (2)
  • Pond, Butler, Bingman—staging (3)
  • Miss Hicks—costumes (3)
  • Sovey (3)
  • Mrs. Van Deghe (4)
  • Liagel (4)
  • Mabel Hampden (4)
  • Johnnie Harrison—actress Ophelia (4)
  • James Sibley Watson (5)
  • Ruland B. Woodward (7)
  • Lady Rothermere (8)
  • Sir Auckland Geddes (9)
  • Harry Blackburn (10)
  • Guthrie (10)
  • Harry Parsons (11)
  • Highley (11)
  • N.R. Bessaraboff (12)
  • A.T. Luoff (12)
  • Barber—engineer (13)
  • Ledoux (16)
  • Bobby Jones (16)
  • Mrs. E. Arnold (17)
  • Mr. W. Stallybrass, Kegan Paul, Trench Tribner & Co. (17)
  • Dutton—publishing? (20)
  • Bill (21)
  • Mr. Adams (21)
  • Norman Geddes (23)


  • Primer of Higher Space—Bragdon (2)
  • Fourth Dimensional Vistas—B (2)
  • Tertium Organum—Uspenskii (2)
  • Kinemsdrama (6)
  • Man the Square—B (6)
  • "The Book" (9)
  • "another book" (13)
  • Wisdom of Gods—U (17)
  • Fragments of Unknown Teaching—U (17)


  • P.O. Borders (5)
  • Oracle (19)


  • Talks in NY—January 3, 1921 (1)
  • Father's week at Kent—April 18, 1921 (7)
  • St. Mark's lighting (10)
  • Song and Light—NJ and Central Park (13)
  • Bridge in Canada (13)
  • Chatham Bars (16)




[1] Bacon

[2] Nicholas K. Roerich was an internationally-known scientist and artist.  Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Roerich traveled extensively in the East (NYT, obits 12/16/1947).  Bragdon first came in contact with him while his paintings were on exhibition in New York.  Bragdon admired Roerich's dedication to beauty, something that Roerich believed would be the "universal solvent of racial and national differences" (MLTO, 272).  Bragdon wrote the introduction to Roerich's Altai Himalaya.

[3] Peter Uspenskii (Ouspensky) was born in Moscow in 1878.  He revolted against a formal education, but became well-versed in a range of literature science, psychology and the occult (Longman Companion to 20th Century Literature).  In 1907, he came in contact with Theosophical literature and became interested in the synthesis of religion, mysticism, and science.  He published a book called The Fourth Dimension in 1909.  In 1923, with the help of Bragdon, he published Tertium Organum, a book on the intersections of concepts of time, space, relativity, Theosophy, and Eastern and Western philosophy.  Uspenskii was also a follower of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology).  Bragdon backed Uspenskii, both in terms of funding and of making arrangements for his books to be distributed in America.

[4] Van Dearing Perrine (1869-1955) was an artist who experimented with abstract mobile design and instrumental color orchestration.  He also researched the applications of art to child development (Who's Who in America, Vol. 3).

[5] Charles Howard Hinton (1853-1907) was the author of Scientific Romances: What is the Fourth Dimension? and A New era of Thought (A Critical Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors).

[6] Raymond Sovey, stage set designer

[7] Auckland Campbell Geddes served as British Ambassador to the U.S. for four years, beginning in 1920.  (NYT obits, January 9, 1954).

[8] Rev. Dr. William Norman Guthrie was a prominent Protestant Episcopal clergyman and rector of St. Mark's-in-the-Bouwrie.  Known for his unorthodox forms of worship, which included dancing and unconventional music, Guthrie commissioned Bragdon to install colored lights to enhance the emotional value of the services at St. Mark's (NYT obits, 12/10/1944).

[9] Frank, see letter to Francis Bacon, Nov. 12, 1918

[10] The Oracle—see Massey, 383

[11] Known as "Mr. Zero," Urbain Ledoux championed the cause of the homeless in New York, and most famously, in Boston, during the 1920s.  He earned nation-wide media attention by auctioning off war veterans at Boston Commons in 1921 and worked for world peace throughout his life (NYT obits, 4/10/1941).  He came in contact with Bragdon through their mutual friend, Kirk Brice, who funded some of Ledoux's operations (MLTO, 93-97).  Ledoux married Mary Hall, an actress who had worked with Hampden, in 1930.

[12] A contemporary of Bragdon's, Robert Edmond Jones was one of the most influential figures in the development of modern theater.  Jones was also part of the "New Stagecraft" movement that moved away from ultra-realistic scenes and toward simplicity.  Jones designed several sets for playwright Eugene O'Neill.  He was an innovator in color, lighting, and costuming (NYT obits 11/27/1954).  Bragdon and Jones drew on each other's ideas and met on many occasions.

[13] Norman Bel Geddes was another contemporary stage designer and producer.  Geddes designed several Broadway plays in the 1920s and 30s, but was probably best known for his Futurama—a design for superhighways—at the World’s Fair in 1939-40 (NYT obits 5/9/1958).


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