About Okelle

Self-portrait photograph of Frances Johnston, 1889-1910
A portrait of the artist as a young bohemian
Photo credit: Frances Johnston, on exhibit at Clio

Miss Ophelia Karen Elizabeth Laurel Lucia Emmett (commonly known as Okelle) was born into a prestigious Denver family fallen on hard times during the Great Depression of the 1970s. Due to the family’s lessened circumstances, Okelle was forced to sell matches and flowers on the streets of Denver after school during most of her formative years. She refers to this period of her life in her memoirs as the “burning flower” years.

After her mother attempted to sell her to a local brothel to pay off her mah-jong debts, Okelle absconded to San Franscisco with the family silver. There she made a name for herself among the buskers and street performers as Little Nell, the Singing Match Girl. Eventually she attracted the attention of a sociology professor from UC Berkeley, who recognized Miss Okelle’s as-yet-untapped intellectual prowess and groomed her for a scholarship position at the University. Okelle took advantage of the professor’s kindness and eventually earned an undergraduate degree in English literature from UC Berkeley before going on to study at Cambridge as a Rhodes Scholar. While at Cambridge, she met and married one of the descendants of the notorious Bloomsbury group and bore him a child whom they named Buttercup.

Poor little Buttercup met a terrible fate Continue reading “About Okelle”