After graduating from Vassar in 1921, Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950) went to Paris, where she met and had a hot affair the sculptor Thelma Wood. Wood was noted for her relationships with other famous women of the era, apparently Wood got around.
After living in Paris, Millay settled in Greenwich Village where she led the Bohemian life. My mid-1970s era NYC boyfriend, who was a writer, and took me on tours of literary NYC, showed me where she lived in house at 75½ Bedford Street, famous for being the narrowest in the city. In 1924, Millay founded the Cherry Lane Theater “to continue the staging of experimental drama”.
Millay was open about her bisexuality and flaunted her affairs with both men and women. Her first male lover was writer Floyd Dell who felt it was his duty to rescue her from her queerness. He was upset that she still getting it on with other chicks. Millay turned down his marriage proposal. He told an interviewer: “It was impossible to understand Millay. I’ve often thought she may have been fonder of women than of men.”
In 1923, Millay married Eugen Jan Boissevain. They had an open marriage and she said that they lived like “two bachelors”. A self-proclaimed Feminist, Boissevain supported her career and took on all domestic responsibilities, freeing her up to write. Both Millay and Boissevain each had other lovers throughout their 26-year marriage.
In his memoir, Great Companions (1942), writer Max Eastman tells a story that while at a cocktail party Millay discussed her recurrent headaches with a psychologist. He asked her: “I wonder if it has ever occurred to you that you might perhaps, although you are hardly conscious of it, have an occasional impulse toward a person of your own sex?” Millay responded;
“Oh, you mean I’m homosexual! Of course, I am. And heterosexual too, but what’s that got to do with my headache?”
75½ Bedford Street is one of my favorite place in NYC. The three-story house, built in 1873, measures 8′ 7” wide. At its narrowest, it is only two feet wide. There is a shared garden at the back of the house. For decades, it was used as housing for out-of-town actors working at the Cherry Lane Theater. Cary Grant and John Barrymore were among the residents. It sold in 2011 for $3.25 million.