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The sad death of Rayna Prohme

John Simkin

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Rayna Prohme is someone who is long forgotten. She died of encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, on Monday, 21st November 1927. She was only 36 years old.

Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness (1952) "On many occasions I had noticed a young girl, slight and bony, deliciously awkward and yet un self-conscious, alive and eager in her study. She had bright red curly hair. It was loose enough about her face to form an aureole, a flaming aureole, with sun and brightness in it. Her eyes were large, reddish brown and warm, with interest and laughter in them... I saw her first on my way to the university in September. She was the only person I remember on a train filled with students. She was like a flame with her red hair and vivid face. She had a clear, happy look, the look of a person who loved life.... I can see Rayna lying on her side in a dull green dress, her cheek cupped in her hand, her eyes on the book she was reading, her mouth half open in her intent interest."

Vincent Sheean, Personal History (1933): "She was slight, not very tall, with short red-gold hair and a frivolous turned-up nose. Her eyes could actually change colour with the changes of light, or even with changes of mood. Her voice, fresh, cool and very American, sounded as if it had secret rivulets of laughter running underneath it all the time, ready to come to the surface without warning... I had never heard anybody laugh as she did - it was the gayest, most unself-conscious sound in the world. You might have thought that it did not come from a person at all, but from some impulse of gaiety in the air."


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11927? An important year for Stalin and Trotsky.

Can one know whether she supported Stalin or Trotsky?

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