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Michael Reid Maxwell Bodenheim Collection

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Bodenheim

Scope and Content of the Collection

Collection includes correspondence from and about Maxwell Bodenheim in addition to photographs, newspaper clippings, and his works. Also included are documents relating to the 1928 death of Virginia Drew and a magazine featuring the 1954 murder of the Bodenheims by Harold Weinberg.


  • Creation: 1928-1954



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Michael Reid Maxwell Bodenheim Collection are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Michael Reid Maxwell Bodenheim Collection are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Maxwell Bodenheim

Chicago and New York poet, novelist, and literary critic.

Maxwell Bodenheim was born May 26, 1892 as Maxwell Bodenheimer in Hermanville, MS. In 1900 the family relocated to Chicago where he attended Hyde Park High School for a brief period before being expelled.

Bodenheim was an active member of Chicago’s literary renaissance whose work was published in Poetry Magazine and The Little Review. He was a close friend and occasional collaborator of Ben Hecht’s; Hecht would go on to satirize Bodenheim in the novel Count Bruga and the play Winkelburg. Around 1914 Bodenheim left Chicago for New York where he worked as an editor and contributor for Others, a publication by Alfred Kreymborg, and established himself as a leader of the Bohemian scene in Greenwich Village. In 1918 his book of poetry, Minna and Myself, was published. The title is a reference to his first wife, Minna Schein, who he married that same year.

Despite his early critical success Bodenheim’s relationships with his contemporaries were often fraught, leading to fallings out with Hecht and Kreymborg among others. He was often destitute, plagued by financial hardship and scandal, and made a living panhandling and selling his poems on the streets and in bars. In 1938 Minna divorced him and in 1939 he remarried to Grace Finan with whom he would remain until her death in 1950. He met Ruth Fagin in 1952 and they married shortly after. Ruth occasionally managed to hold odd jobs but their life together was increasingly unstable and the two were frequently homeless.

Bodenheim and Ruth were murdered on February 6th, 1954, while sharing rooms with Harold Weinberg, a twenty-five-year-old acquaintance from the Village. Weinberg, who had previously been discharged from the army as mentally unstable, was later diagnosed as schizophrenic and sent to Matteawan State Hospital.

Bodenheim was survived by his first wife, Minna, and their son, Solbert. Ben Hecht offered to pay for the funeral though records seem to show that most of the costs fell to Minna, who arranged for him to be buried in her family plot in Emerson, New Jersey. At his funeral Alfred Kreymborg delivered the eulogy which drew comparisons to other notable poets and praised his works, concluding that "He will be read." His published works include twelve novels and ten volumes of poetry in addition to the poems, stories, and critical essays published in various serials.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Letters, documents, photographs, drawings, and works by and regarding the poet and novelist Maxwell Bodenheim, a literary figure in Chicago (where he befriended and collaborated with Ben Hecht) and in New York City's Greenwich Village. Includes Bodenheim's letters to Alfred Kreymborg, his wife Minna, and his son Solbert. Also other letters and condolence notes, clippings and police documents regarding Bodenheim's 1928 arrest, photographs, an original pencil portrait, the first issue of New Review magazine containing his work, and a Bodenheim novel, New York Madness, republished in 1951 as pulp fiction.


Materials are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Collection Stack Location

1 6 4


Gift of Michael Reid, 2018

Processed by

Katy Darr, 2018.

Inventory of the Michael Reid Maxwell Bodenheim Collection, 1928-1954
Finding aid prepared by Katy Darr
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States