Learning to Breathe: a novel of Beatrice Wood

Adrienn’s current writing project is an historical novel about the life of potter, artist, and one-time actress, Beatrice Wood.

Beatrice Wood LOC 1

Beatrice Wood, who loved to dance.

Learning to Breathe: A Novel of Beatrice Wood is an historical novel about the life of Beatrice Wood, an extraordinary woman who romanced some of the most famous artists of her time — and became a celebrated artist in her own right, well-known for her ceramic lustreware and pottery figurines.

Adrienn first became aware of Beatrice Wood during a 2004 summer internship in New York City at a preservation and folklore-based nonprofit organization known as City Lore where she was assigned to do reports on important community sites of historic and cultural interest. Webster Hall was amongst her assignments. In the course of researching the infamous social hall, she came across stories about the Dada-artist influenced Blind Man’s Ball of 1917, which in turn led her to Beatrice.

Marcel Duchamp by Edward Steichen

Marcel Duchamp. Photo by Edward Steichen, 1917.

The “Mama of Dada,” Beatrice Wood cavorted with some of the most famous artists of her day, including Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Francis Picabia. She met and fell in love with Henri-Pierre Roche, an itinerant art dealer and sometime writer who would go on to pen the book, Jules et Jim, which inspired the film by Francois Truffaut. Beatrice remained lifelong friends with both Roche and Duchamp.

Adrienn took two years researching Beatrice’s life at some of the best archival collections in the United States: the Library of Congress’ Manuscripts Division, which houses the correspondence between Beatrice and her lifelong best friend, Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood (a formidable woman in her own regard); the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, located in Washington, D.C., which holds the complete personal papers of Beatrice Wood (now completely digitized); and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which has over 20 years of correspondence between Beatrice and her longtime friend and sometime lover, R.P. Singh.

HPR Practiing his swingThese rare insights into Beatrice’s daily life and musings provide the epistolary underpinnings of a significant novel about the foundation of Beatrice’s life as an artist. Adrienn began writing in January of 2014 and completed the first full draft of her manuscript for Learning to Breathe in June of 2016. She enrolled in an MFA program in the Fall of 2015 and graduated with her degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s MFA in Creative Writing program in May 2018.

Adrienn is currently shopping her polished novel to literary agents, after having engaged a professional editor (shout out to Heather Lazare and her NorCal writer’s retreat!) for developmental editing before submitting the work to writer’s workshops. She is an alumnae of the 2017 Community of Writers at Squaw Valley as well as the 2017 session of Lit Camp, a joint project of the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto and LitQuake.

If Beatrice has anything to say about it — and we trust that she does — you’ll have no problem finding a copy of this novel on bookstore and library shelves very soon. Until then, remember:

“There are no rules to art!”