In 1914, Margaret Anderson founded the Little Review, one of the most influential literature and art magazines of its time. The magazine’s motto, “Making no compromise with public taste,” announced Anderson’s commitment to publishing the best work available, without regard to fashion or convention. In its early issues, the magazine included work by then-unknown writers, political extremists such as Emma Goldman, and radical social commentary, such as Anderson’s own article in defense of homosexuality.
In 1916, Margaret Anderson met Jane Heap, a woman well known in Chicago’s artistic circles for her interest in modern art and her unconventional dress—she was among the first women in Chicago or any other city to wear short cropped hair and dress in men’s trousers. Anderson was struck instantly by Heap and her compelling ideas and conversation; “My mind was inflamed by Jane’s ideas because of her uncanny knowledge of human composition, her unfailing clairvoyance about human motivation. This was what I had been waiting for, searching for, all my life.”1 Anderson immediately made Heap co-editor of the Little Review; the two women fell in love and boldly lived as a lesbian couple when such unions were not often openly displayed.
The Little Review began to serially publish Ulysses, James Joyce’s extremely controversial novel, in 1918. The editors were charged with obscenity and, after a drawn-out legal battle with the United States Post Office, convicted and fined in 1921. The trial took a financial and emotional toll on the women. They published issues of the Little Review more and more irregularly and their relationship eventually began to fall apart. With the tenth anniversary of the magazine in 1924, Anderson suggested they cease publication. Heap decided to continue the journal without Anderson’s co-editorship, and shifted the magazine’s focus to the visual arts by including more work by painters and sculptors, especially those associated with Dadaism, Surrealism, and other modern art movements.