Ada Verdun Howell - New York Life

New York Life

By the time she was in her late thirties Ada had abandoned Melbourne, where she was surrounded by what she felt were stuffy and provincial relations, for New York and the bohemian life, where she was soon surrounded by an artistic life and freedom she was unable to experience in Australia. Her first husband, Adrian Morten, an undistinguished writer and critic, by whom she had her two children, does not appear to have been very supportive. The marriage, like most of Ada's later relationships, floated on a tide of drink and was marked by spectacular rows. After Morten's sudden death she consoled herself with many lovers, including Christopher Isherwood, who soon fled, leaving Ada convinced he was 'a pederast at heart'(It is claimed that she was the only person to have bedded both Chester Kallman and Isherwood). However, "once I got Mr Morten out of my life I felt like a new woman," she told a close friend Harold Norse, and in her forties she stumbled into her m├ętier, modern poetry.

In the early 40s she was taken under the wing of Peggy Guggenheim who was to provide both financial and intellectual encouragement. In the decades that followed she became a close friend to poet and beat Harold Norse. Her last years were a slow decline due to alcoholism.Little is known of her last years and she died of unknown causes in 1981.

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