-Retrato original María José González-
When she was a teenager, she developed tuberculosis. Despite weak health, Woolsey left home for New York City, she wanted to be an actress or a writer. Her first published poem appeared in the New York Evening Post in 1922. But she met a writer and journalist from New Zealand and she married him (Rex Hunter). She soon found that she had nothing in common with her husband. So, they separated after four years.
In 1927, while she was living in Greenwich Village, she came into contact with the writer John Cowper Powys and, through him, his brother Llewelyn and his wife, Alyse Gregory. Gamel and Alyse became friends for life, while with Llewelyn Gamel had a painful love affair.
She left New York for England in 1929, settling in Dorset to be near Powys, where she came to know, in 1930, Gerald Brenan. The Hispanist writer fell in love with her poems (Middle Earth) and novel (One Way of Love). Later, they went to live together, mainly in Spain. Although their union was not a problem to sustain other intimate relationships to both sides. They did not have any children. So, they adopted Brenan´s daughter, Miranda (Juliana, her mother, was a young girl who had worked as a
servant in Brenan´s house in Yegen). Gamel was the perfect travelling companion for Brenan.
Although Gamel spent much of her time typing out Brenan’s manuscripts, she managed to find some space for her own works. Death's Other Kingdom in 1939 (re-released as "Malaga Burning" in 1998 by Pythia Press), One Way of Love had been accepted by Gollancz in 1930, but suppressed at the last minute because of its sexual explicitness. Finally, it was published by Virago Press in 1987. She translated a novel by the Spanish nineteenth century writer, Benito Pérez Galdós, La de Bringas, into English, as The Spendthrifts, as well as a collection of Spanish Fairy Stories in 1944. Her Collected Poems have been published since her death. Patterns on the Sand was published by The Sundial Press in 2012 and it recalls her South Carolina childhood.
She died in Spain in 1968 of cancer, she was seventy-three years old and was buried at the English Cemetery, Málaga. Now, she is next to Gerald Brenan, who outlived her by almost twenty years and inscribed on the stone of her grave these words of the song from Cymbeline, because Gamel had been fond of it: "Fear no more the heat o’ the sun / Nor winter’s furious rages."
Woolsey, G. (1939): Death’s Other Kingdom. London: Longman’s.
- (1988): F. Partridge (Introduction): Death’s Other Kingdom. London: Virago Press Limited.
- (1994): El otro reino de la muerte (A. Torre Villalba y F.J. Díaz Chicano, trad.). Málaga: Ágora.
Ozieblo, B. (2003). Gamel Woolsey: Thwarted Ambitions. La lettre powysienne. Número 5, pp.38-43.