Lola Ridge

Born: 1873

Born Rose Emily Ridge in Dublin, Ireland in 1873, Lola Ridge was Joseph Henry and Emma Reilly Ridge’s only surviving child. When she was about six years old, Emma took her to New Zealand. At the age of 21, Lola Ridge married Peter Webster, a gold mine manager. When their marriage was failing, she left and enrolled at Trinity College in Sydney, New South Wales. There she studied painting at the Sydney Art School Julien Ashton and began writing poetry. Ridge was a poet and champion of the working class. Politically active before socialism became fashionable among New York intellectuals, Ridge participated in protests, marches, and pickets with ferocious spirit. Her writing is vigorous and electric. She was, as Peter Quartermain described her, “the nearest prototype in her time of the proletarian poet of class conflict, voicing social protest or revolutionary idealism.” Her collections include Dance of Fire (1935), Firehead (1930), Red Flag (1927), Sun-up, and Other Poems (1920), and The Ghetto, and Other Poems (1918). Ridge moved to San Francisco in 1907 after her mother died. Rose Emily Ridge reinvented herself as Lola Ridge, poet and painter, and described herself as being only 23 years old. For a while, Ridge supported herself writing advertising copy and popular fiction. She finally gave up this work to preserve her artistic integrity and energy and to remain true to her increasingly radical politics. By April 1909 she had published a poem in Emma Goldman’s radical journal Mother Earth. In 1911 Ridge began working as an artists’ model, an illustrator, a factory worker and an educational organizer. She married fellow radical David Laws on October 22, 1919. The two lived a life of poverty in a drafty cold-water apartment. Ridge became linked to a circle of poets involved in the journal Others, including William Carlos Williams, Alfred Kreymborg, Marianne Moore, and Waldo Frank. She died in her home in Brooklyn in 1941. Source