Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Celtic Twilight of Carmel, California. Conclusion

Carmel. Photograph © Denise Sallee 2012
There was one very important and central point from which all of Ella Young's California connections sprung - Albert Bender. Bender, born in Dublin in 1866, arrived in San Francisco  at the age of 16 - working as an errand boy for an insurance office.  By 1890 he was an insurance agent - owning his own company and becoming very wealthy and influential.  But most of all, Albert Bender was a discerning patron of the arts with a deep love of books, literary manuscripts, and Ireland. And he was kind and generous. It was Bender who arranged for Ansel Adams' first portfolio of prints to be published and also took him to Carmel to meet the Jeffers and the O'Sheas. 

When Ella arrived in  San Francisco for the first time her manager, Jessica Colbert, told her  “There are two people in San Francisco that I hope you will meet, one is Albert Bender...the other is Noel Sullivan...”  (Flowering Dusk: Things Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately. Ella Young. Longmans, Green and Company, 1945).  Both Bender and Sullivan became long-lasting friends with Ella - they were her admirers and her patrons. 

Bender adored Ella and she him. He was instrumental in her struggle with the U.S. government to remain in America and he introduced her to his closest friends who immediately became her closest friends. This, indeed, was the power of social networking. It was through Bender and Sullivan that Ella became a part of the Carmel community. She was soon a central figure in the art and literary scene of the small village. It was not only Ella's poems and folktales that drew many Carmelites to the Irish immigrant. Her deeply magical consciousness and passionate love for Ireland fueled many a soul on the western edge of America. She inspired established poets, such as Dora Hagemeyer and Sara Bard Field and encouraged others, such as Ansel Adams and John O'Shea, to explore in words and images, their own connections to the natural world. 

How fitting it was when in 1935, Una Jeffers, splendid in a new black velvet gown, spoke at the opening of the Yeats exhibition at Mills College, where Albert Bender was a trustee and benefactor. Robinson Jeffers also attended the event  - important, I think, in linking the two great poets known so well by Ella Young.  

Credit: Special Collections, F.W. Olin Library, Mills College

The exhibit was organized by Bender, containing many items from his own collection.

Credit: Special Collections, F.W. Olin Library, Mills College
Ella spoke at the University of California - as revealed in this newspaper article from the Berkeley Daily Gazette of October 23rd - the following month as part of the ongoing Bay Area Yeats celebration. 

In December of 1930, Ella wrote to Albert Bender:

The top of the morning to you and a hundred thousand thanks. There is nothing in the world like a good friend. (Albert H. Bender Collection. Special Collections, F.W. Olin Library, Mills College)

Carmel, Ireland, poets, mystical seekers,  and Ella Young.  A truly magical connection!


  1. Nice piece of writing. Love the photograph of the breaking waves too. I can taste the salt air! I would love to know if the text to her talk on "Yeats Attains the Sword and Tower" is still available.

    1. Thank you - I am looking forward to winter and returning to this beach. I have never seen a copy of this lecture. The Berkeley Daily Gazette doesn't seem to have followed up on the lecture - I will try the other area newspapers. The title certainly is intriguing!