Not Without Love: Memoirs
UPNE, 2003 - 290 pages
Constance Webb led a remarkably full life as a committed political activist, a fashion model and actress, a writer whose works include the first biography of her friend Richard Wright, and the wife and confidante of one of the foremost intellectuals of the twentieth century, C. L. R. James.
Raised in Fresno, California, Webb became an ardent Trotskyist while still a teenager. After moving to Los Angeles, she remained politically active and met James on his first US tour when he visited the city to speak. He fell in love instantly with her and established an epistolary relationship, offering advice and support during her two short-lived marriages, the launching of her modeling career, an ill-fated affair with a well-known actor, and her move to New York City in the early 40s.
In New York, where she continued to model and act, she became a member of the inner circle of James's Johnson-Forest Tendency, and eventually James's wife. She also established an enduring friendship with novelist Richard Wright and championed his work. Despite a sometimes-rocky marriage, James and Webb had a son together, but when James finally left the United States for England (under threat of deportation), Webb did not accompany him.
Webb offers a candid memoir of political, sexual, and social awakening at a pivotal time in twentieth-century America. Politically committed, she was nevertheless repelled by the misogyny and petty feuds that often marred the actions of the Left. She was able to earn her living by using her beauty, but she was compelled to live a double life because of the virulent racism that surrounded her working days. Through James, before their marriage, she became a close friend of Wright, Ralph Ellison, Chester Himes, and James Baldwin. Webb provides vivid, first-hand portraits of the radical left, the African-American literary scene, and especially, the intimate daily life and thoughts of C. L. R. James.
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