Bryher was the pen name of Annie Winifred ELLERMAN, who was born in Margate. Annie’s Mother was Hannah Glover and her Father was John Ellerman, the shipping magnate. The shipping lines Ellerman and Hall and Ellerman Papayani were well known to me, for my Father worked as a fumigator in the port of Liverpool. When John Ellerman died in 1933 he was the richest Englishman ever.
During her childhood, Annie travelled with her family on the continent of Europe and in North Africa. She was sent to boarding school when she was fourteen.
In 1918, Bryher met and began a relationship with American poet Hilda Dolittle, who was known by her initials – H.D. During the 1920s Bryher travelled to Paris where she met writers Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Robert McAlmon, Kenneth Macpherson and Gertrude Stein, publisher Sylvia Beach and photographer Berenice Abbott.
As she was independently wealthy, Bryher was able to help struggling writers, poets and artists. In 1921, she married Robert McAlmon but the couple divorced in 1927. Bryher then married Kenneth Macpherson – they were both passionate about films – and they built a Bauhaus-style house/film studio in Switzerland, which they called Kenwin. In 1927 Bryner, Macpherson and H.D. founded the film magazine “Close Up”.
During the 1930s Kenwin became a centre for refugees and she helped at least a hundred people escape from Nazi rule before she returned to England in 1940.
Bryhers’ poetry anthologies are “Region of Lutany”, published in 1914 and “Arrow Music” published in 1922. She wrote novels and works of non-fiction and both Bryher and H.D. appeared in one of the films made by their film company The Pool Group.
Bryher died in 1983.
NOTE: Bryher is the name of the smallest of the inhabited Isles of Scilly.