Lottibird & Lou: the Correspondence of Lotte Eisner and Louise Brooks

by Julia Eisner (King’s College, London)

Abstract: Lotte Eisner and Louise Brooks met briefly in 1929 on the set of G.W. Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl, but their friendship, much of which was conducted by letter, was established in 1958 in Paris when the Cinémathèque Française had invited the long-forgotten 1920s film star to Paris for a celebration of her work. Ostensibly very different characters, their correspondence reveals a deep mutual regard, understanding and respect for each other’s writing and work and stands out in Eisner’s life as both unusual and remarkable because amongst the thousands of work-related letters she wrote, this correspondence with Brooks is entirely and exceptionally for pleasure. Using their correspondence this paper will explore the significance of this reciprocated respect and affection and in particular consider why despite Eisner having published her first book L’Ecran Démoniaquein 1952 to great acclaim, Louise Brooks appears to be alone in describing Eisner as an intellectual.

Julia Eisner is working on a PhD about her great-aunt Lotte H. Eisner, at King’s College, London with Professor Erica Carter. Prior to her PhD project Julia was a BBC Radio 4 Reporter and Producer for 20 years, after which she took an LLB and an LLM at Birkbeck, University of London where she taught Law for 7 years and worked as a Research Assistant on a European Law Project. Following this Julia became Manager of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, presenting a programme of academic events. In January 2016 Julia left Birkbeck to concentrate on researching and writing. In November 2016, her programme The Vigil was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.