Maxwell Bodenheim (May 26, 1892 – February 6, 1954) was an American poet and novelist. A literary figure in Chicago, he later went to New York where he became known as the King of Greenwich Village Bohemians. His writing brought him international notoriety during the Jazz Age of the 1920s.
He was born Maxwell Bodenheimer in Hermanville, Mississippi, the son of Solomon Bodenheimer (born July 1858) and Carrie (born April 1860). His father was born in Germany and his mother in Alsace-Lorraine. Carrie emigrated to the United States in 1881 and Solomon in 1888. In 1900, the family moved from Mississippi to Chicago. The Federal census gave their residence as 431 46th Street.
Bodenheim and writer Ben Hecht met in Chicago and became literary friends about 1912. (At the time, Bodenheim was nicknamed "Bogey." The nickname was also applied in his later years in Greenwich Village.) They co-founded The Chicago Literary Times (1923–1924). Contributors included Carl Sandburg, Theodore Dreiser, Edgar Lee Masters, Witter Bynner, Arthur Davison Ficke, Floyd Dell, Vachel Lindsay and Sherwood Anderson.
For many years a leading figure of the Bohemian scene in New York's Greenwich Village, Bodenheim deteriorated rapidly after his success in the 1920s and 1930s. Before he married his second wife, Grace, he had become a panhandler. They spent part of their marriage in the Catskills. After she died of cancer, he was arrested and hospitalized several times for vagrancy and drunkenness.
Critic John Strausbaugh suggests that Bodenheim had "a real talent for scandal, easy enough to generate during Greenwich Village’s prolonged drunken orgy in the Prohibition years." Strausbaugh notes that Bodenheim's "haughty, insulting demeanor, and his habit of trying to steal other men’s women right under their noses, got him regularly socked on the jaw and thrown out of bars, soirees and the fauxhemian revels at Webster Hall."
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