Friends of Friends Friday: More About Edward B. Payne

Lola Ridge, via Wikipedia, public domain.
Lola Ridge, via Wikipedia, public domain.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Earlier this week we published a post noting that Edward B. Payne’s writings are still referenced today by modern authors. We have found another instance- a 2016 book that uses the same quote as in our previous post, from 1899 about Edwin Markham’s poem, “The Man with the Hoe”:

“Clergy made the poem their text, platform orators dilated upon it, college professors lectured upon it, debating societies discussed it, schools took it up for study.”

The new book that includes this reference to Payne’s work is Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet, by Terese Svoboda, IPG, 2016.

Lola Ridge was an anarchist poet, social reformer, and human rights activist (including women’s and worker’s rights). She ran the Ferrer Center in New York City, and invited authors, artists, philosophers, and other reformers to lecture. Described as “…a community center for anarchists and freedom-loving writers and artists,” the Center opened in June, 1910.  Edwin Markham was an invited guest, and apparently Jack London was a visitor to the center, too. London was a close friend to our Edward B. Payne and a declared socialist at one point; he and his wife Charmian (Kittredge) London were friends of Markham as well. Markham  lived on the west coast for some time, so he and Edward B. Payne may have known one another, especially since Payne wrote the article published in the Overland Monthly about Markham’s most famous poem.

Before this time, in 1907, Lola Ridge had emigrated from Australia to San Francisco, so it might be possible that Edward B. Payne met her in person on the West Coast before the Ferrer Center period. More research revealed that her first poem was published in the Overland Monthly (OM) magazine in 1908, making the likelihood even stronger that they met. Edward B. Payne had been an OM editor in the 1890s, although not when Lola’s poem was published. (Also, in the April 1908 issue, the OM editor was described as bald – that would definitely NOT describe Edward B. Payne, who had a beautiful head of white hair until his death in 1923.)

Portrait of Edward B. Payne in "Memories of an Editor" by Charles S. Greene, Overland Monthly magazine, Bret Harte memorial, September 1902, page 269.
Portrait of Edward B. Payne in “Memories of an Editor” by Charles S. Greene, Overland Monthly magazine, Bret Harte Memorial, September 1902, page 269. Possibly taken during his time as editor of the OM.

Payne travelled among the literati and socialists of San Francisco and Berkeley, so may well have met Lola Ridge during her early years in the US. Unfortunately, his letters and library burned in the Great Berkeley Fire of September, 1923, so it is currently unknown if they communicated with each other. Although there were quite a few years difference between them, their social and political views, as well as their similar talents as writers and poets, may have brought them together in one or more of the great liberal gatherings of the West Coast. Edward did not take socialism all the way to anarchy, as did Lola- in fact, he resigned the Socialist Party due to their movement toward that spectrum with violence, but he would have very much appreciated the human rights work of Lola Ridge.


Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1.  Anything that Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet, by Terese Svoboda, IPG, 2016. Possibly p. 78- GoogleBooks no longer shows page numbers, but the search function can be used to find the reference in Chapter 9.
  2. Lola Ridge, Wikipedia:
  3. “The Te Katipo Extended” a poem by Lola Ridge, Overland Monthly, Vol. 51 , No. 3 , Pages 298-9, March 1908. Jack London’s “In a Far Country” was published in that same issue, p. 270-8.
  4. “The Song of the Bush” a poem by Lola Ridge, Overland Monthly Vol. 51, No. 6, P. 540, June 1908.


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