The ABCs of Katherine Anne Porter: H is for…


Trysts, affairs, partners, paramours… there was no shortage of lovers in Katherine Anne Porter’s life, five of whom she married. Her first husband was John Koontz, whom she married in 1906 when Porter was only 16 years old. The marriage was far from happy and Porter left her husband to pursue an acting career before formally divorcing Koontz in June 1915. In quick succession, Porter married and divorced her second husband T. Otto Tasket. Her third marriage in 1916 to Carl Von Pless was also short lived, lasting less than a year. 

Porter would be married twice more during her lifetime. In 1930, Porter met Eugene Pressly in Mexico. He was 14 years younger and worked for the U.S. Foreign Service; Porter moved with him to various posts throughout their relationship. In 1933, the pair was married in Paris, but were often away from each other due to conflicting schedules. They eventually separated in 1937. Her final marriage was to Albert Erskine Jr. in 1938 and only lasted two years. He was 21 years younger than Porter and also involved in the literary world. 

There is not a lot of information available about Porter’s early marriages. Official records, letters, and pictures have either been lost or destroyed. Porter’s romantic relationships were often tumultuous affairs that burned out quick. When things ended, she was prone to slicing up correspondence or setting it on fire in a dramatic effort to rid herself of the past. However, there are still many letters between Porter and her last two husbands throughout the respective courtships as well as letters between Porter and various lovers, offering an intimate look into the side of Porter that was always looking for love.

You can explore digitized letters from Katherine Anne Porter in the online exhibit Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977.

Browse the finding aids to the Katherine Anne Porter papers and visit us in person to learn more about the partnership between University of Maryland and Katherine Anne Porter. Contact us to learn more!

Mattie Lewis is a student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program and Graduate Assistant with the Katherine Anne Porter Collection at UMD.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s