Nora May French, Writer, Ends Life With Poison


Friend Has Telepathic Vision of the Poet"s Death Scene

A telegram was received from Monterey last night stating that Nora May French, a writer well known in this city, had committed suicide by taking cyanide of potassium in the bungalow of the poet, George Sterling. He was away from home, and it was Mrs. Sterling who, hearing groans, went to the apartment occupied by Miss French and found her dying. On the table near at hand was a small box of cyanide of potassium which she had procured the day before for the ostensible purpose of cleaning silver. Help was summoned, but before a doctor arrived he girl was dead. A verdict of suicide was held yesterday afternoon. No reason is known for the suicide.

Miss French had been living for two weeks with the Sterlings, having gone to the country to have a better opportunity to write. She was 24 years of age and came here from Los Angeles some two years ago with her sister, Miss Helen French. She has a brother and a father in Los Angeles. Upon receipt of the telegram announcing her death George Sterling, who was here, left for Carmel, accompanied by Henry A. Lafler, one of the group of friends with whom Miss French was intimately acquainted.

While dying at Carmel in the midnight hour Thursday morning Miss French sent a telepathic message to an intimate friend in San Francisco. This friend, whose veracity cannot be questioned, saw the act in a dream—saw the poison lifted to the girl"s lips, and saw her writhing in the death agony. It is firmly believed by the one who dreamed of the act of suicide that the vision came at the moment when Nora May French, moved by some impulse which is not understood by her friends, ended a life that gave great promise.

Nora May French was a poet of rare talent. Her output was small, but everything that she had written was invested with haunting beauty. George Sterling has said of her that whenever she put her pen to paper something perfect was the result. She could not write anything commonplace, he said. That she might be free to write as she chose, she went, two weeks ago, to live with Mr. and Mrs. Sterling at their cottage at Carmel. It was remarked by a friend at about the time that she left that suicide would be her end, but the idea was scoffed at by her intimates.

Until two weeks ago Miss French and her sister, Helen, lived at 415 Lombard street in a bungalow owned by Henry A. Lafler, and now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Perry Newberry. While here Miss French was one of the literary and artistic coterie composed of Lafler, Porter, Garnett, Gelett Burgess, Xavier Martinez, George Sterling, Herman Whitaker, and others. She was employed for a time by the Pacific States telephone company and was the author of "The Diary of a Telephone Girl" which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post a few weeks ago, and which, as if it was based on the recent telephone girls" strike here, created considerable local interest. A few touches were put to the article by Gelett Burgess, but in all its essentials it was the work of Miss French.

Miss French was a frail girl of striking appearance, and one who exercised a charm over all the men she met. They made no impression on her, however. It being apparent that her chief object in associating with them was to make a psychological study of them. She was of an exceedingly nervous temperament, and ordinarily gave no sign of talent. It was only those few who knew her well to whom the brilliancy of her mind was apparent.

San Francisco Call, Vol CII, No 168; November 15th, 1907