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Born on April 20, 1891, in New Rochelle, New York, U.S.A., as Mary Phelps Jacob – better known as Caresse Crosby – was the first recipient of a patent for the modern bra. Caresse and her husband, Harry Crosby, founded Black Sun Press, which was instrumental in the early works of some emerging modernist authors including Hart Crane, D.H. Lawrence, Kay Boyle, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce.
See the fact file below for more information on the Caresse Crosby or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Caresse Crosby worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early Life and Love Interest
- “Polly” (as she nicknamed herself early in life), was a daughter descended from the American colonial families of William Hearn Jacob and Mary Jacob.
- In 1915, at age of 24, she married Richard “Dick” Rogers Peabody, her long-time sweetheart and son of one of the great New England families.
- In 1917, Polly and Richard Peabody had two children: a son, William Jacob, and a daughter, Polly (‘Poleen”). Richard was a well-educated but reluctant father to his children. Polly’s husband had only three real interests, all acquired from Harvard: to play, to drink and to chase fire engines. He was traumatized from his experiences in World War I and later on became an alcoholic.
- Polly’s life was difficult and two years later, she and Richard divorced.
- Polly was 28 years old when she met Harry Grew Crosby. Harry fell in love with Mrs. Peabody quickly and confessed his love for her in the Tunnel of Love at an amusement park.
- Richard Peabody, at the time, was in and out of sanitariums fighting his alcohol abuse when the divorce concluded.
- On September 9, 1922, Harry and Polly got married. They moved to France where they joined the Lost Generation of American Expatriates.
At first, they lived in Paris, then they bought a restored mill in the suburb of Ermenonville, which they called Le Moulin du Soleil (“The Mill of the Sun”). They mingled with artists and socialites, met with writers, studied literature, and began to both write and publish their own work.
The Backless Brassiere
- The first modern brassiere was created by Mary Phelps Jacob in 1913. She patented her design and now the brassiere is a standard part of nearly every modern woman’s wardrobe.
- Jacob came up with the idea for her brassiere after she bought an evening gown for an event that she was planning to attend. At the time, women wore corsets stiffened with whale bones and steel rods. She tried on the dress with one of these corsets, but found that the corset was visible through the plunging neckline and sheer fabric.
- Jacob had a better idea. She took two silk handkerchiefs, some pink ribbon and, with the help of her maid, fashioned herself the very first bra.
- Family and friends almost immediately asked Jacob to create brassieres for them, too. One day, she received a request for one of her contraptions from a stranger, who offered a dollar for her efforts. She knew then that this could become a viable business.
- On November 3, 1914, she was awarded a patent for the “Backless Brassiere”. The undergarment name “brassiere” was derived from the old French word for “upper arm.”
- Then, Jacob set up a business, using the name Caresse Crosby instead of her own. Later, she sold the brassiere patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for $1,500. The Warner Brothers Corset Company made $15 million dollars from the bra over the next 30 years.
Writing Career and Major Works
- In late 1924, Caresse published her first book “Crosses of Gold”. It was “unadventurous” poetry centering on the ideas of love, beauty and her husband.
- “Graven Images”, her second book, was published in 1926 through the Houghton Mifflin Publisher in Boston. This was the only time they used another publisher.
- In April, 1927, they founded a publishing company, first called Éditions Narcisse, after their black whippet, Narcisse Noir. They used the press as an avenue to publish their own poetry in small editions of finely-made, hard-bound volumes.
- In mid-1928, the name of the press was changed to the Black Sun Press. Both Caresse and Harry’s career were on a high.
- The Black Sun Press is famous for having published lavishly-bound, typographically impeccable versions of unusual books, including The Fall of the House of Usher, their Hindu Love Book, and letters by Henry James to Walter Berry, Harry’s cousin.
- As their publishing tastes evolved, they began to publish the works of their Parisian literary friends. This included D. H. Lawrence’s The Sun and Escaped Cock (sometimes reprinted under the title The Man Who Died); James Joyce’s Tales Told of Shem and Shaun (work — later incorporated into Finnegans Wake); and short stories by Kay Boyle. In 1929, their best year, they published fourteen works by James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound, among others.
- On January 24, 1970, Crosby died from complications from pneumonia in Rome, Italy. Prior to this, she received then still-experimental open heart surgery at Mayo Clinic.
Caresse Crosby Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Caresse Crosby across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Caresse Crosby worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Caresse Crosby who was the first recipient of a patent for the modern bra. Caresse and her husband, Harry Crosby, founded Black Sun Press, which was instrumental in the early works of some emerging modernist authors including Hart Crane, D.H. Lawrence, Kay Boyle,
Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Caresse Crosby Facts
- Correct Me, if I’m Wrong
- What am I?
- Word Hunt
- Fill the Basket
- Supply the Word
- My Life in a Comic
- The Literary Godmother
- Caresse Crosby – The Inventor
- The Crosby Legacy
- A Letter to Caresse
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Link will appear as Caresse Crosby Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 21, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
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