Frances Boldereff

Educated at the University of Michigan, Frances Boldereff (1905–2003) was a James Joyce scholar, typographer and book designer, and single mother who raised her daughter in Brooklyn, New York, while working in the male-dominated publishing industry of the 1940s and 1950s. As a production manager, designer, and marketing administrator, Boldereff worked at The New Yorker, American Weekly, D. Van Nostrand Company, and Doubleday. In 1947, Boldereff introduced herself to modern American poet Charles Olson when she wrote to him in praise of Call Me Ishmael, his study of Moby-Dick. Thus began a passionate romantic and intellectual relationship that spanned more than twenty years and which played out in extensive correspondence comprising hundreds of letters (now archived at the University of Connecticut). As a scholar and exegete outside of the academy, Boldereff wrote about sources in James Joyce and published, under her own privately funded imprint, books such as Reading Finnegans Wake (1959), A Blakean Translation of Joyce’s Circe (1965), and Hermes to His Son Thoth (1968). Her research also focused on Arthur Rimbaud, whose work she not only studied but also translated – most notably his poem “Credo in Unam” (later titled “Sun and Flesh”).