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Louise Bryant

Bryant circa 1917
Born Anna Louisa Mohan
December 5, 1885(1885-12-05)
San Francisco, California
Died January 6, 1936 (aged 50)
Sèvres, France
Occupation Journalist
Spouse(s) Paul Trullinger (1909)
John Reed (c 1917)
William Christian Bullitt, Jr. (1924)
Parents Hugh Moran
Relatives Sheridan Bryant, stepfather

Louise Bryant (5 December 1885 – 6 January 1936) was an American journalist and writer. She was best known for her Marxist and anarchist beliefs and her essays on radical political and feminist themes. Bryant published articles in several radical left journals during her life, including Alexander Berkman's The Blast. [1]



Bryant was born Anna Louisa Mohan in San Francisco, California to Hugh Moran. Her parents divorced when she was three, and she grew up with her stepfather, Sheridan Bryant, a railway conductor. She lived for years in the Nevada desert with her grandparents, and was a student at the University of Nevada and the University of Oregon, where she had a reputation for strong-willed independence and rebelliousness. In 1909 she secretly married a Portland dentist, Paul Trullinger, and tried to carve out a career for herself as a writer.

After a long love affair, Bryant married journalist John Reed, and together they traveled to Russia in 1917 and 1918. While there, they participated in Bolshevik agitation and Communist party activities, and wrote articles about the pending revolution. Bryant was with Reed when he died of typhus; he was interred in Moscow.

Many years later, letters by and about John Reed and Louise Bryant were discovered in Soviet archives by researchers from the Library of Congress. In a 1920 letter to a friend, Bryant spoke of her typhus-stricken husband’s death in Moscow and how she watched Soviets pass his grave:

“I have been there in the busy afternoon when all Russia hurries by,” she wrote. “Once some of the soldiers came over to the grave. They took off their hats and spoke very reverently: ‘What a good fellow he was!” said one. ‘He came all the way across the world for us. He was one of ours.”’

Communist historians have been far less kind to the memory of Bryant, claiming that she has no proper place in history, dismissing her; as anarchist Emma Goldman famously said, "Louise was never a Communist; she only slept with a Communist."

Four years after Reed's death, Bryant, now a leading reporter for the Hearst newspaper chain and pregnant, married former Wilson Administration assistant secretary of state William Christian Bullitt, Jr. Their move to Paris introduced Bryant to its lesbian subculture, and her affair with English sculptor Gwen Le Gallienne led to a bitter divorce in 1930, with Bryant denied access to her only child, Anne, who was not informed of the circumstances until well after the end of the Second World War.


Bryant's long, tragic decline was caused by Adiposis dolorosa, or Dercum's disease, with which she was diagnosed in 1928. It was marked by extreme weight gain, fatigue, and mental confusion. She increasingly sought oblivion in alcohol. She died in Sèvres in 1936. [1]


The 1981 film Reds was based on her life with John Reed. The film starred Diane Keaton as Bryant, Warren Beatty as Reed, and Jack Nicholson as playwright Eugene O'Neill, who had once been Bryant's lover.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Louise Bryant, 41, Journalist; Widow of John Reed, Ex-Wife of Ambassador Bullitt, Stricken in Paris. Was a Communist Leader. Reported Early Days of Russian Revolution. Interviewed all the Soviet Leaders.". New York Times. January 10, 1936, Friday. 

Further reading

  • Mary V. Dearborn, Queen of Bohemia (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996), hardcover, 365 pages, ISBN 0-395-68396-3
  • Virginia Gardner. Friend and Lover: The Life of Louise Bryant (New York: Horizon Press, 1982)
  • Eric Homberger. John Reed (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990)
  • Louise Bryant. Six Red Months in Russia New York: George H. Doran Company, 1918(, 2002)
  • Louise Bryant. Mirrors of Moscow (Hyperion Books 1973)

External links



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