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Philip Harry Cummings (1906-1991) was a Vermont poet, teacher, and world traveler with a talent for meeting interesting people in interesting places. Intelligent, curious, and resourceful, he embraced new cultures and learned new languages with ease.

After finishing college, Cummings taught and studied modern languages for ten years, then married and began a new career as an economic analyst and lecturer on world affairs. He achieved considerable success and recognition in the decades that followed, but as time passed, he came to see his youthful friendship with the Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca as the most important episode of his life.

Cummings and Lorca first met at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid in 1928 and soon discovered they had much in common. In August 1929, Lorca left New York City, where he had come to study English, to spend ten days with Cummings in a rustic cottage beside Lake Eden in northern Vermont. For more about Lorca's Vermont visit and its impact on his life and work, see:

Cummings returned to Spain in 1930 on a year-long fellowship, but left after only 6 months amid the turmoil of a popular uprising against the government and the King. He hoped to return in calmer times, but that hope and his blossoming academic career were ended by the realities of the Great Depression and the Spanish Civil War. Though he went on to make a new and rewarding life for himself, one great disappointment remained.

In the years following Lorca's sudden and tragic death in 1936, Cummings found that his attempts to share his unique knowledge of the poet were consistently rebuffed by the keepers of Lorca's legacy. Only later, when a new generation of Lorca scholars discovered Cummings for themselves, was he finally able to tell his story.

Additional information about Philip Cummings is provided on this web site. For a complete biography of Federico García Lorca, see: Ian Gibson, Federico García Lorca: A Life (New York: Pantheon Books, 1989). For an overview of Lorca's life and work, see the website of the Federico García Lorca Center in Granada, Spain.


Patricia Billingsley first read about Philip Cummings in Ian Gibson's landmark biography of Federico García Lorca. Curious to know more, she began researching Cummings's life and became intrigued by the complexities and contradictions of his story. Drawing on published and unpublished writings, extensive correspondence, and a host of other archival materials, she is currently writing a book about Lorca's relationship with Cummings and its impact on both their lives. She launched this web site in January 2011 to share some of her findings with interested readers.

Ms. Billingsley has given invited talks about Lorca and Cummings at the International Institute in Madrid, Smith College in Northampton, MA, the City University of New York (CUNY), and other public venues. In spring 2013, she co-curated (with Christopher Maurer) a six-week "Lorca in Vermont" exhibition at the CUNY Graduate Center, part of a citywide "Lorca in New York" festival. She is a member of Biographers International Organization and the National Coalition of Independent Scholars.

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My difficulties usually rise from the two contending forces within me. I have the taciturn, silent, morose background of a calculating Vermont, and then I have learned the wide range of emotions that I found around me in Spain, France, and to a certain extent with the Southerners of our own land... My life is not being shattered by this clash of character-content, but rather broadened, and its significance is becoming deeper.

—Philip Cummings, Valley Ranch Journal, 1932-33

[Lorca] spent [part of] the month of August in Lake Eden, Vermont, with one of the few North Americans whom he really confided in and felt close to, perhaps the only North American friend he had.

—Christopher Maurer, interview by Eduardo Aguiar, Federico García Lorca in New York, WGBH Boston, May 7, 1986

Copyright © 2022 Patricia A. Billingsley