Caresse Crosby Biography

Inventor, Author, Journalist, Poet (1892–1970)
Caresse Crosby invented the modern bra in 1913. She was a poet and established a publishing company with her husband Harry Crosby in Paris, France.


Poet Caresse Crosby was born on April 20, 1892, in New York City. She invented the brassiere in 1913 and sold the patent. She and her second husband Harry Crosby moved to Paris where they established a publishing company. She published two of he own books and work by authors such as James Joyce and Kay Boyle. In 1930, Crosby returned to the U.S. following her husband’s suicide. She died in Rome in 1970.


Publisher, poet, and inventor. Born Mary Phelps Jacob??but usually called Polly by friends and family??on April 20, 1892, in New York, New York. While she spent most of her career engaged in the literary arts, Caresse Crosby helped change fashion and free women from confining corsets by getting the first patent for the modern brassiere??or as we call it now the bra.

Caresse Crosby came up with the idea for the bra in 1913 and later sold the patent for her invention. Two years later, she married Richard Rogers Peabody, and the couple had two children. The union didn??t last, however, and Crosby became embroiled in a scandal when she fell in love with another man while still married to Peabody. She divorced Peabody in 1921 and married Harry Crosby the next year.

Not long after moving to Paris, Caresse and Harry Crosby immersed themselves in the city??s social happenings and began to travel in literary circles. She changed her name to Caresse as part of her new literary persona. Crosby published her first book, Crosses of Gold, in 1925. Her next work, Graven Images, was released the following year.

Besides her own writing, Crosby and her husband established two publishing imprints: Editions Narcisse and Black Sun Press. Through their company, the Crosbys published the likes of Kay Boyle, Hart Crane, James Joyce, and Archibald MacLeish. The great partnership between Crosby and her husband crumbled after he and his mistress committed suicide in 1929. After his death, Crosby continued on as an editor and publisher, putting out collections of her late husband??s work and letters as well as material by Ezra Pound and many others.

In the 1930s, Caresse Crosby returned to the United States. She married Selbert Young in 1937, but the relationship ended in divorce. Crosby shared stories from her fascinating life in her 1953 memoir Passionate Years. She later moved to Rome and established an informal artistic colony of sorts at her castle home.

Caresse Crosby died on January 24, 1970, in Rome.

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