The Mary MacLane Project

The definitive website on the life and work of the pioneering feminist writer, film-maker, and media personality Mary MacLane (1881-1929)

Support the Project - Buy Petrarca Press Books

The Mary MacLane Project has been self-funded by the individuals involved - Michael R. Brown, Philip Lipson, Virginia Terris, and other researchers through the years. One avenue for readers and institutions to support this work is to purchase the authoritative Petrarca Press editions of works by and about Mary MacLane for themselves, friends, colleagues, libraries, etc.

Petraca Collections


Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader - print and Kindle editions (2011). The consummate Mary MacLane collection. All three of her books and the majority of her feature articles under one cover together with dozens of never-before-published private letters, with an introduction and textual notes by Michael R. Brown. “Anyone who reads her will never forget her voice.” - Biographile Mary MacLane (1881-1929) was the first of the modern media personalities: a pioneer in self-revelation, in defiance of established rules, in living on her own terms - and writing it in brilliant style. At age 19 she burst upon the world out of Butte, Montana with a journal of private thoughts and longings that incited national then international attention. In the books and newspaper articles that followed she evolved a completely new, individual voice decades ahead of its time. She influenced Gertrude Stein, inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald, and was hotly discussed by everyday people - and America’s biggest writers. Yet despite sparking film, stage, and music projects today - and being endlessly quoted on the Internet - the writer behind the writing has remained unknown until now. Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader features the complete texts of all her books (with expurgated passages restored), her colorful newspaper articles (much never before reprinted), an intriguing 1902 interview, the first viewing ever of her striking personal letters, illuminating introductions to each era in her life, and comprehensive notes that open the door to her influences and the age she came from and impacted so profoundly. A foreword from actress Bojana Novakovic provides a contemporary artist’s creative appreciation of the author’s still-powerful effect upon readers. “Mary MacLane comes off the page quivering with life. Moving.” - London Times “She reminds us of the power of personal narrative, honestly told.” - The Atlantic “In a pre-soundbite age she already knew how to draw blood in one direct sentence.” - The Awl “She had a short but fiery life of writing and misadventure, and her writing was a template for the confessional memoirs that have become ubiquitous.” - The New Yorker “One of the most fascinatingly self-involved personalities of the 20th century.” - The Age “A girl wonder.” - Harper’s “Confessional journalists have people like Mary MacLane to thank.” - Flavorwire “Her diaries ignited a national uproar, ushering in a new era for women’s voices. Her elegant, ambitious embrace of full-disclosure opened a door to what was possible for women.” - The Atlantic “Fiery frankness made her a pioneer.” - Time Out Chicago “Her poetry is one of extremes: lust for happiness, despair for life.” - Hairy Dog Review “Riveting.” - N.H. Public Radio “I Await the Devil’s Coming is a small masterpiece, full of camp and swagger.” - Parul Sehgal, NPR “Pioneering newswoman, later silent-screen star, considered the veritable spirit of the iconoclastic Twenties.” - Boston Globe “A pioneering feminist - a sensation.” - Feminist Bookstore News “First of the self-expressionists, and the first of the Flappers.” - Chicagoan


Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler - print and Kindle editions (2013). An outstanding introducton to the best of Mary MacLane's writing. With her first book - written in 1901, at age nineteen - she was hailed as a marvel by the likes of H.L. Mencken, Clarence Darrow, and Harriet Monroe. She went on to become a pioneering newswoman, gambler extraordinaire, bon vivant, and a star of the silent screen. She influenced Gertrude Stein, inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald, was puzzled over by Mark Twain, and upon her death in 1929 was eulogized as “an errant daughter of literature ... the first of the self-expressionists, and also the first of the Flappers,” as the creator of “that revolution in manners, that transvaluation of values in the female code of behavior known as the Roaring Twenties.” In this authoritative critical edition, the best of Mary MacLane returns to print. With the complete text of her striking first book (with all expurgated passages restored), a selection of her colorful newspaper feature articles, a full-length 1902 interview with the enigmatic author, notes, and a bibliography, Tender Darkness: A Mary MacLane Sampler reacquaints the reading public with a literary genius who took on the establishment - and won.


Mocking Mary: The Humorists Vs. Miss MacLane (2015) - print edition. That “errant daughter of literature” - considered “the first of the Flappers” as well as “the first blogger” - Mary MacLane (1881-1929) has undergone a remarkable rediscovery in recent years. Buried, however, and largely forgotten is the astonishing press outpour that never ceased through her 20s. There was unending hate, perpetual admiration - and constant humor. The nation’s biggest papers ran multiple jests at her expense every day - pointed one-liners, limericks, turgid poetry, deft parodies. By the time she was 22, three book-length parodies were on sale and inspiring laughter across the country. This first-of-its-kind collection returns to print the books - The Devil’s Letters to Mary MacLane, The Story of Lizzie McGuire, The Story of Willie Complain - and a generous helping of every genre of humor she inspired. Still able to bring smiles or groans, these pieces uniquely reveal a society desperately pushing back at the young radical who questioned everything and obeyed nothing but her dark Muse - and against the coming revolution in style and manners she represented. With an illuminating introduction and annotations by acclaimed MacLane scholar Michael R. Brown, Mocking Mary opens a new direction in understanding a potent revolutionary author and the times she lived in and provoked so deeply.

Petrarca Stand-alone Books


I Await the Devil's Coming AKA The Story of Mary MacLane (1902) - Kindle and print edition. The unexpurgated text, with introduction and notes. The original, little-seen unedited version of the 1902 classic that began the confessional blog genre, as its author intended it, together with illuminating notes that trace the complex references through the range of classic and popular literature mastered by a 19-year-old girl in Butte, Montana who attained international notice under the book's altered title, "The Story of Mary MacLane." All expurgations and editings have been removed, making this edition unique among all those currently on offer.


My Friend Annabel Lee (1903) - Kindle edition. With introduction and notes. Mary MacLane's least-known book affords a completely different view of the writer being rediscovered as "the first blogger," known even in her time as "the first of the Flappers." Written in 1902-1903 after the international sensation of her 1902 proto-blog "I Await the Devil's Coming" (published as "The Story of Mary MacLane"), the 21-year-old author threw critics and public a curve. Rather than try to top her first book's fire and thunder, she turned around completely and wrote a book of tremulous sensitivity - and ruthless self-analysis. Set in the form of dialogues, with an exchange of letters near the end, MacLane splits herself in two and has the two sides meet in friendship and battle: the gnomic, ironic, declarative, unflappable Annabel Lee and the depressive, credulous, clingy narrator, “Mary MacLane.” Nature is almost non-existent in this tale: the setting hardly ever moves from their shared apartment, and then only to return to the scene of psychic tension. A close reading of its beauties and relentless focus on style discloses her most finished book and the purest exhibition of her incipient Surrealism. Detailed textual notes, drawn from the Petrarca anthology "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader," make this edition - of the book she may have most written to, by and for herself - unique among all those currently on offer. With this publication, all of MacLane's books become available in Petrarca Press annotated editions for Kindle.


I, Mary MacLane (1917) - print and Kindle edition. With introduction and notes. The final book by "the first blogger" and "first of the Flappers" is Mary MacLane's testament in every way and completes the arc of her career. After years of external adventure - gambling on the Florida coast, lengthy reclusion in a repressive New England town, newspaper feature-writing in Denver, high living in Manhattan - she returned to Butte, Montana and turned within to explore her internal worlds. After the martial excitement of her first book and the deep stylistic focus of her second, "My Friend Annabel Lee" - both available in Petrarca Press annotated editions for Kindle - her last, written from 1911 to 1917, positions the reader in the most intimate contact she would ever permit: we are with her inside herself, in - except for the first and, movingly, a later entry - an eternal tomorrow. Her insight, subtle humor, fearlessness, and sovereign mastery of language never desert her - or us. Detailed textual notes tracing out her references, drawn from the recent Petrarca Press anthology "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader," make this edition unique among all those currently on offer.


The Devil's Letters to Mary MacLane by Mrs. T.D. McKown (1903) - Kindle edition. Possibly the rarest of all early-20th-century writing around "the first blogger," Mary MacLane (1881-1929), is this extraordinary masquerade by a woman - a doctor's wife out of Cripple Creek, Colorado - who with astonishing zest and abandon dons the guise of Satan himself and pens flirtatious, mocking, and barbedly critical letters to young MacLane. Never before reprinted, it opens an eye not only on the writer parodied but on the age the two women lived in - and on another female author breaking new ground and - unlike MacLane - not even knowing it.

Petrarca Stand-alones - not in any collection

Mary MacLane on Marriage (1902) - Kindle edition. After the sensation of "I Await the Devil's Coming" - the recently-rediscovered "first blog" written in 1901 at age 19 by Mary MacLane - she began a second career as a newspaper feature writer. In late 1902, she told the reading public of New York that marriage might just be acceptable, at least for others - if it could be tried experimentally, and dissolved upon either party's decision! Never before reprinted, and a striking preview of the tone of MacLane's later feature articles of the early and late 1910s.

He Loves Me (1903) - Kindle edition. A totally forgotten 1903 article by "the first blogger," Mary MacLane (1881-1929), is stunningly direct in its unabashed sexuality expressed in fantasy love letters from the Devil (whom MacLane had previously attained fame for expressing the desire to marry in "I Await the Devil's Coming"). That MacLane was able to have this published, and continue to be published and discussed in America of that time, shifts our understanding of cultural possibilities in that era.

Butte Society - The "Lady in Green Tights" (1910) - Kindle edition. After Mary MacLane's 1902 breakaway success with "the first blog" - "I Await the Devil's Coming" - she never failed to surprise. Her biggest fans and biggest critics were thrown for a loop, though, when on returning to Montana after seven years of adventure on the East Coast to some lasting rumors about how she had offended and shocked the wealthy when she was 20, she penned an article championing - High Society of Butte! One of her most crystal-clear (and proto-Flapper) pieces.

Petrarca Stand-alones - included in the collections

Mary MacLane at Newport (1902) - Kindle edition. Joseph Pulitzer's populist, crusading New York World newspaper landed Mary MacLane at the height of her lightning-like sensation in the summer of 1902. Reports were that the paper's sales almost doubled in Manhattan when it ran her exclusive feature articles. The paper paid her a princely weekly wage for a month of work, paid for her stay in one of Manhattan's best hotels, and transported her to high and low points within traveling distance to gather impressions and write them to the New York masses. The first place, for the first article, was the spectacularly moneyed town of Newport, Rhode Island. The young author cast took in everything, returned to her hotel, sharpened her pen, and had at it. The contrast MacLane draws would be as in her article on Wall Street: man and woman, and people and nature, set as far apart as possible. The lyrical contrasting passages of the farmlands and the sea are some of MacLane's early heights. Text (2745 words) is from "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader."

Mary MacLane on Wall Street (1902) - Kindle edition. A news organization unleashed Mary on Wall Street. Wall Street trembled. - Text (2310 words) is from "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader."

Mary MacLane in Vivid Detail Tells the Transition of her ‘Kind Devil’ of Old (1903) - Kindle edition. Mary MacLane flared to international notice at age 19 with 1902's "I Await the Devil's Coming," a memoir being rediscovered as the first blog, still radical in style and talent today. Along with the female schoolteacher in whom - to national discussion - the young author professed to find "a strange attraction of sex," another figure of desire and combat was Satan himself. Despite public and publishing demand for more, MacLane resisted ever writing of him again - except for two features for the Denver Post in 1903, completely forgotten until now. Text (2690 words) is from "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader."

The Autobiography of the Kid Primitive (1910) - Kindle edition. Having pioneered the blog form in 1902, in 1910 Mary MacLane worked a further development by giving her child-self an imaginary blog written at the age of seven. - A near-fatal scarlet fevered bout earlier that year had brought to her mind, she'd write, "pictures from the childhood-past flitting across it with startling vividness, forgotten details of incidents and events rushing into it with the revealing glare of lightning on a pitch-black night." As she recovered, out of that hallucinatory clarity she crafted an evocation of her tomboy childhood - the only writing she would ever do of those years without the disguise of the deeply ambiguous just-so stories in "My Friend Annabel Lee" (1902). The article begins with her usual merry address to her adversaries - her Butte readers - then leads us into a childhood-world charming, surreal, and with underhints of violence that modern writers would not explore for many decades. It rises to an exalted emotional coda unique in her works - her writing, in the editor's opinion, at its very best. Text (4265 words) is from "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader."

Mary MacLane Meets the Vampire on the Isle of Treacherous Delights (1910) - Kindle edition. After pioneering the blog (and burning all bridges to conventionality) in 1902 with her first book "I Await the Devil's Coming," Mary MacLane began writing for regular newspaper readers, introducing them to her unique mix of classical allusion, slang humor, and proto-Surrealism decades before the European cutting-edge picked it up independently. She was capable of rendering anything in a shocking new light, and never more so than in her reminiscences of Manhattan during the years after the enormous success of her first book. Written in 1910, after her return to Butte, Montana (and after a near-fatal illness), post-Gilded-Age Manhattan becomes in her eye a spectral region of delight and disaster, populated by young women eager for pleasure at all costs. Though she reigned at the center of them, MacLane's observing eye is never turned off, and her pen never sharper than in the New York articles she wrote as she came back to health. Text (3080 words) is from "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader."

Men Who Have Made Love to Me - 1910 - Kindle edition. Pioneering confessional memoirist and "first of the bloggers" Mary MacLane's silent-movie article is striking now - and it was revolutionary in 1910. It inspired a 1917 silent movie written by and starring MacLane herself, as herself, telling the tales of six affairs of the heart - in each of which she comes out on top. Written in MacLane's inimitable bold style, these men - and the complex authoress' sparrings with them - live on, yet the work has remained almost forgotten until this year. Text (3850 words) is from "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader."

The Borrower of Two-Dollar Bills - and Other Women (1910). Kindle edition. After journaling her sexual and romantic longings for a woman at age 19 - and having it published and discussed in 1902 America - Mary MacLane went on to a series of enigmatic relationships with both men and women. She pushed the envelope in her intense, finely-edged classic 1910 article "Men Who Have Made Love to Me" - also available from Petrarca Press on Kindle - and then turned her observing eye on some of the women who had passed in and out of her life. Addressing the citizens of her loved and criticized hometown of Butte, to which she'd returned after her sensational success, she said: "They will in particular misunderstand some things about this article and the side of me it reveals. I care about it, but, well ..." Text (3490 words) is from "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader."

The Movies - And Me (1918)- Kindle edition. Mary MacLane's revolutionary 1918 silent movie "Men Who Have Made Love to Me" united - perhaps for the first time ever - writer, narrator, subject, and star. Equally radical was her destruction of the fourth wall by facing the camera and, in sustained scenes, addressing the audience directly. Perhaps "the first blogger" was also the first YouTube star - in the vehicle of a 90-minute silent movie. - In this highly-polished article - written for one of the first film fan magazines - "the first of the Flappers" displays the elegant insouciance we associate with the late 1920s, in full flower in 1918 - something we see already appearing in her late 1902 New York articles. An intriguing indication of MacLane's ability to warmly reach out, person-to-person, to fans. Text (1130 words) is from "Human Days: A Mary MacLane Reader."

Forthcoming Books

A Quite Unusual Intensity of Life: The Lives, Worlds, and Works of Mary MacLane - Michael R. Brown's biography of MacLane - the first complete account of MacLane's life

Mary in the Press: Miss MacLane and Her Fame - a 1000+-page collection of reactions to MacLane from 1902 to the present, with introduction and notes

Mary MacLane: Her Articles and Interviews - first-ever collection of MacLane's words in newspapers and journals, with introduction and notes

Mary MacLane: The Complete Letters - a collection of MacLane's striking private letters and telegrams including never-before published material, with introduction and notes

Petrarca Press edition of My Friend Annabel Lee, unexpurgated and annotated

Norwegian translation of I Await the Devil's Coming by Silje Aanes Fagerlund and Siri Katinka Valdez - details here

Italian translation of I Await the Devil's Coming by Daniele Zinni

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