Identified individuals are represented by a biographical sketch, a list of connections to other signatures, and, in most cases, an artifact from the Ransom Centers collections. Help us identify more signatures by submitting your suggested identification.
Orrick Johns (1887-1946) grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. When a childhood trolley accident left him with only one leg, the bedridden Johns developed into a voracious reader. After briefly attending Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Missouri, Johns worked as the drama critic for the widely read St. Louis publication The Mirror, edited by William Marion Reedy. Johns moved to New York in 1911 to pursue his writing career, and his first volume of verse, Asphalt and Other Poems, was published in 1917. During the 1920s, Johns published two other books of poetry, as well as a mystery novel, Blindfold. His one play, The Charming Conscience, was a farcical comedy that enjoyed great success when it was produced in 1923 in California. During this period, Johns divided his time between New York, California, Europe, and St. Louis, where he wrote copy for an advertising firm. In the 1930s, Johns became an active member of the Communist party, and he spent that decade editing leftist publications like the Daily Worker and New Masses and supporting labor organizations. He was a founding member of the American Artists Congress, and later became the director of the Federal Writers Project in New York City.
Alice Corbin Henderson's copy of a full issue of Others: A Magazine of the New Verse 1.1 (July 1915)
Johns's poetry appeared in little magazines such as Poetry and Others during the 1910s. This first issue of Others, edited by Alfred Kreymborg, who later became the editor of Broom, also includes verse by Mary Carolyn Davies and Mina Loy. Johns' poems typify the free verse that would become the hallmark of Others, whose later issues include poems by Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams.