100 years ago this month, April 1914…

…Leo Stein, 41, is pissed off. He hasn’t been enjoying living with his sister Gertrude, 40, for quite some time anyway, and years ago even quit reading that drivel she writes. And then, about seven years back, Alice B. Toklas, now about to turn 37, showed up at 27 rue de Fleurus. Leo has no problem being hospitable to visitors from their home town, San Francisco. But she moved in!

At first, he’d given up his studio so Alice could have a room. But now, it’s just too much. No one is listening to him anymore. Leo knows it is time to move out, but the big question is, what about the paintings?

Leo decides he will sell three of the paintings by Pablo Picasso, 32, to Gertrude. He never liked that Spaniard anyhow. But he’s determined to keep most of those by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 73, and particularly  Five Apples by Paul Cezanne, dead now eight years:

by Paul Cezanne, 1877-78

Five Apples by Paul Cezanne, 1877-78

Leo writes to Gertrude:

‘I am willing to leave you the Picasso oeuvre, as you left me the Renoir, and you can have everything except that I want to keep the few [Picasso] drawings that I have…I’m afraid you’ll have to look upon the loss of the apples as an act of God.’

Leo doesn’t care that his own sister is heartbroken to give that one up.

Gertrude turns around and sells the three Picassos back to their dealer, and buys some works by Juan Gris, 27. And never speaks to her brother again.

Fortunately, my brother and I had no problem dividing up the Donnelly estate, no paintings involved, and remain good friends to this day.

This May, I will be in Paris, leading my legendary ‘Such Friends’ walking tour of the cafes where the Americans in Paris hung out in the 1920s, and Woody Allen filmed Midnight in Paris in the 2010s. Let us know if you’d like to come along, and we can take in the Petit Palais exhibit about Paris in 1900, three years before Leo moved into 27 rue de Fleurus:

http://www.petitpalais.paris.fr/en/expositions/paris-1900-city-entertainment.

On this date 100 years ago, 15th March, 1914…

…in Ireland, Lady Augusta Gregory turns 62, the same age as I am now, until next week at least [Look more surprised…].

Her late husband, British Parliament MP Sir William Gregory, has been dead 22 years this month. She is still active in the running of her Abbey theatre, founded ten years ago with poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, 48. Their plays have been produced at theatres throughout Britain and the US. The one-month-old theatre school at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, the first in the world to grant drama degrees, is presenting some of Yeats’ one-acts this year, and Augusta’s Spreading the News next year.

She has income from rental property, but that has gone down while her taxes have gone up. Augusta’s only son, Robert, 33, is married and, under the law, he, and then his son, own Coole Park, where she has lived ever since her early marriage. Although it will always be associated with Lady Gregory, and she will live there for the rest of her life, Coole Park will never legally be hers.

Augusta and I both had our life-changing experiences in our 40s:  We found our life’s work—she established a theatre; I did my Ph.D. research into her ‘such friends.’ Augusta lost an Irish husband; I found one.

So today, on her birthday, I will lift a glass to toast her—along with My Irish Husband Tony and our two cats, Willie Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory:

Tony holding William Butler Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory

Tony holding William Butler Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory

On this date 100 years ago, 2nd February, 1914…

…in England, The Egoist magazine runs the first of 25 instalments of “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by Irish writer James Joyce, who turns 32 on this date. Dora Marsden, one month younger, had founded The New Freewoman suffragette magazine the year before, but American poet Ezra Pound, 28, had convinced her to change the name and start publishing modern writers like Joyce.

Pound had discovered Joyce’s work the previous year through his new best friend, poet William Butler Yeats, 48. They have been living and working in Stone Cottage in Sussex, with Pound helping Yeats because his eyesight is failing.

Joyce is working as an English teacher in Trieste, Italy, having his work rejected by publishers in Ireland and England. His partner, Nora Barnacle, 29, takes care of their son Giorgio, 9, and daughter Lucia, 7, and puts up with Joyce’s drinking and ever-wilder schemes to make money, including running the first cinema in Dublin, during his frequent trips back home.

We’ll be celebrating Jimmy Joyce’s 32nd birthday 100 years and three days late this Wednesday, 5th February, at the Birmingham Irish Heritage centre in Digbeth. Come along around 7 pm for my presentation, ‘Such Friends’: James Joyce in Dublin and Paris. [There are rumours of cake.]

But if you can’t make that, I’ll be talking about Joyce again on Monday, 24th February, at the Birmingham and Midland Institute, from 1 to 2 pm. Mention ‘Such Friends’ and they will waive the members’ fee!

Here’s a picture of the movie theatre Joyce managed in Dublin, taken many years later.

Volta cinema dublin

On this date 100 years ago, 15th January, 1914…

…in England, essayist Lytton Strachey, 34, writes to his cousin and former lover, painter Duncan Grant, about to turn 29,

Are you waiting for Clive’s Art to come out to know what to think on that and every other subject?

Art, by critic Clive Bell, 32, one of Lytton’s Cambridge friends, is a tiny little book for such a big title. Using many of the ideas proposed earlier by his other Bloomsbury friend, Roger Fry, 47, Bell first puts forth the idea of “significant form.”

The year before, publisher Chatto and Windus had approached Fry to write such a book, but he was much too busy with his project, the Omega Workshops, founded with painter Vanessa Bell, 34, Clive’s wife and then Roger’s mistress, and Duncan.

Over 40 years ago, in Dr. Owen Herring’s Aesthetics class at Lycoming College [http://www.lycoming.edu/] in Pennsylvania, I came across Art when I was “the little girl with the glasses who studies in the library all the time.” Curled up in a comfy chair, right at the top of the library stairs, I remember thinking, “What a twit. He writes a tiny little book called Art! How pretentious.” Years later, when I did my Ph. D. research on early 20th century writers’ salons, and finally found out more about Clive Bell and the rest of his “Such Friends,” I discovered that I was right. He was a pretentious little twit.

The Lycoming College Library, Williamsport, PA

The Lycoming College Library, Williamsport, PA

What was happening 100 years ago, January 1914…

…In Ireland?

Finally. After seven months of the Dublin Lock Out, it’s over.

Although the bitter lockout of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union by the United Tramways Co. marked the first time that Irish workers were organized, the unions lost. Even their leader, Jim Larkin, about to turn 38, admitted, “We are beaten. We make no bones about it.”

Douglas Hyde, just turned 54, one of the founders of the Gaelic League as well as the Abbey Theatre, initially supported the political groups that grew out of the early months of the strike. But now he is thinking that he may have to resign from his League again, as he did last year. The League he founded 17 years before to preserve the Irish language is becoming too political for his taste, and his best option may be to leave.

This month, 100 years later in 2014, the Abbey Theatre, founded by Hyde and his “Such Friends,” is staging James Plunkett’s The Risen People, set in the time of the Lockout: http://www.abbeytheatre.ie/whats_on/event/the-risen-people/

The Abbey Theatre's current production of The Risen People

The Abbey Theatre’s current production of The Risen People

…In England?

Hyde’s friend and fellow Abbey founder, poet William Butler Yeats, 48, is spending another winter in Stone Cottage in the East Sussex countryside, with his new secretary/assistant, American student Ezra Pound, 28, delighted to be working closely with one of his literary heroes.

In the middle of the month, Yeats takes time out to attend a party in West Sussex for Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, 73. The two poets shared a friendship with Abbey founder and director, Lady Augusta Gregory, 61, with whom Blunt—but not Yeats—had an affair.

Farther west in the English countryside, at the Lacket in Wiltshire, Lytton Strachey, 34, is also writing and visiting London regularly. One of his Bloomsbury friends, Virginia Woolf, about to turn 32, married for one year to Lytton’s Cambridge buddy Leonard, 34, has volunteered to do his typing for him. For Virginia, working on her first novel, the typing is a welcome break to help her recuperate from one of her recurring bouts of mental illness.

 

Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf

Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf

…In France?

Virginia’s sister, painter Vanessa Bell, 34, along with her husband, Clive, 32, and her former lover, Roger Fry, 47, are visiting Paris to find out what is going on in art. They have struck up a friendship with the city’s foremost ex-patriate art collectors, the Stein family from San Francisco. Vanessa, Clive and Roger have seen the Stein collection in the home of Michael, 48, and his wife Sarah, 43, on the Left Bank. Michael’s sister Gertrude, 39, who lives nearby at 27 rue de Fleurus, introduces the Brits to one of her favourite artists, Henri Matisse, just turned 44.

 

Gertrude is taking them to meet Pablo Picasso, 32, in his studio. Picasso has been championed by Gertrude and her brother, Leo, 41, who recently decided to live permanently in Italy. This leaves Gertrude and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 36, also from San Francisco, on their own to continue the popular Saturday evening salons showcasing the art they are buying.

The Stein family

The Stein family

In the south of France, Lytton’s cousin, painter Duncan Grant, about to turn 29, is meeting up with their Bloomsbury friend, economist John Maynard Keynes, 30, who has come along with his mother, 52, to try his luck at the casinos of Monte Carlo.

…In America?

Finally, George S Kaufman, 24, is getting by-lines for the features he is contributing to the New York Tribune. When his family moved to New York City from Pittsburgh a few years before, he had been thrilled to get a few squibs into the most read column in the city, “Good Humor,” compiled by the already legendary FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, 32] in the Evening Mail. FPA had taken a liking to Kaufman and even secured him a full-time writing job with the Times in Washington, DC, publicly congratulating him in the Mail.

However, after Kaufman spent a year in DC, mostly playing stud poker at the National Press Club, the anti-Semitic owner of the Times had spotted him and loudly asked, “What’s that Jew doing in my city room?” Kaufman returned to Manhattan.

In addition to the free-lance pieces he is selling, in the evenings Kaufman is working on some plays with friends, and thinking it would be a good year to visit Europe for the first time.

George S Kaufman

George S Kaufman

100 years ago, at the end of 1913…

In Ireland…

Poet, artist and playwright “AE” [George Russell, 46] is corresponding frequently with his Irish-American friend in New York, lawyer and art collector John Quinn, 43, about the incredible success of The Armory Show earlier in the year. Quinn had helped the newly-formed organizing group, The American Association of Painters and Sculptors [AAPS], untie the legal knots obstructing their importation of art from Europe, and then had bought up a bundle of incredible pieces during the weeks of the exhibit, including works by AE and others.

Irish-American lawyer and art collector John Quinn

Irish-American lawyer and art collector John Quin

In England…

AE’s art school buddy, poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, 48, is spending the winter in Stone Cottage in Ashdown  Forest, East Sussex, working with his recently hired American secretary, poet Ezra Pound, 28.

ezra pound - young

Virginia Woolf, 31, married one year to Leonard, 32, is finishing work on her first novel, to be published by her hated half-brother. Worried about Virginia’s health, Leonard is arranging to give up their apartment in London to move to the country home she has rented with her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, 34, Asham, also in East Sussex.

Asham House in East Sussex

Asham House in East Sussex

Vanessa is busy collaborating with their friends, painter Duncan Grant, 28, and art critic Roger Fry, 47, to decorate Fry’s home, Durbins, with large, brightly coloured figures in the hallway. Fry had experimented with woodcuts this year for his Christmas card.

Vanessa, Duncan and Roger have been working hard together in their Omega Workshops, but, by the end of the year, Vanessa has ended her affair with Roger and decided that Omega was taking her away from her painting. She is planning to withdraw from the project in the coming year.

Invitation to Omega Workshops opening

Invitation to Omega Workshops opening

In France…

The big news in Paris is that the coveted Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre two years before, has been found in Italy and is being returned by the Italian government.

French art lovers are also fascinated by a cardboard construction, Guitar on a Table, by Spaniard Pablo Picasso, 32, which has appeared in the magazine Les Soirees de Paris.

Guitar on a Table by Pablo Picasso

Guitar on a Table by Pablo Picasso

But on the Left Bank, in 27 rue de Fleurus, where Picasso’s paintings hang alongside those of his rival Henri Matisse, about to turn 44, more important issues are being resolved. At the end of the year American ex-patriate writer and art collector Gertrude Stein, 39, is writing to friends that her brother, art expert Leo, 41, with whom she has lived in the flat for ten years, is planning to stay permanently in Italy. She and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 36, also from San Francisco, have found “a place with very little balconies, third story in the Palais Royal and it’s going to be very nice.” She predicts that they will move by July.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at 27 rue de Fleurus, with the paintings

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at 27 rue de Fleurus, with the paintings

In America…

Gertrude’s friend, Mabel Dodge, 34, who had publicized Stein’s work during the Armory Show, has upped stakes from New York and is following her current lover, journalist Jack Reed, 26, to Mexico.

Mabel Dodge

Mabel Dodge

In Manhattan, budding writer Dorothy [“No, we’re not part of those Rothschilds] Rothschild, 20, living on her own, has decided not to attend her father’s funeral.

Home for the holidays in St. Paul, Minnesota, from his first year at Princeton University, another aspiring author, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, 17, is excited about writing lyrics for the University’s Triangle Club, and is keeping a detailed ledger of the stories he is working on.

The impact from the Armory Show is still being felt in the American art world. Cubist and postimpressionist paintings are being shown in Pittsburgh, and new galleries are popping up in Manhattan.

Quinn has decided that he will help the galleries with his inevitable purchases. He is also supporting Yeats’ father, painter Jack Yeats, 74, who had come to New York City for a visit and refused to give in to his family’s pleas to return to Ireland. He too had been impressed with the Armory Show, but writes to Quinn,

These gay souls will do good in unshackling painting. But, so far, they do not shake me in my plans, which are only to paint what I have seen happen.

Painter John Yeats, father of poet W B Yeats

Painter John Yeats, father of poet W B Yeats

“Such Friends” will be updating this blog at intervals throughout the coming year, to follow what the writers and their friends were doing one hundred years ago in the eventful year of 1914. Please send any contributions to me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com or leave a comment below. Happy 2014!

‘Such Friends’: Britain before the War— The Irish Literary Renaissance and the Bloomsbury Group

While WB Yeats’ circle were busy organizing the Abbey theatre in Dublin, Virginia Woolf and her friends and family were reinventing art and literature in the townhouses of Bloomsbury and the country cottages of Sussex. Until The Great War intervened, the British sat in drawing rooms, talking over whisky, buns and cocoa, late into the night.

I will be giving a presentation about Britain 100 years ago, before the war, next Monday, 25th November, from 1 to 2 pm, at The Birmingham [UK]  & Midland Institute, Margaret Street, City Centre, http://bmi.org.uk/.

The BMI has agreed to waive the £2 non-member fee to anyone who uses the password ‘Such Friends’ when they arrive. So, if you’re in the area, come along and be sure to say hi. Maybe afterwards we’ll all have our own salon at a nearby pub…

In America on this date 100 years ago, September 20th, 1913…

…Maxwell Perkins turns 29. On New Year’s Eve of 1910 he had married his sweetheart, Louise Saunders, because he had finally secured a job that would give him a decent salary and a regular home life—in the advertising department of Charles Scribner’s and Sons. Although his Harvard degree was in economics, he sometimes went over-budget to promote books he felt strongly about. He and Louise had been able to start a family, having two daughters so far, Bertha and Elizabeth, always called Zippy.

Max Perkins. I like this photo because [a] it is free to use and [b] he looks like my Dad.

Max Perkins. I like this photo because [a] it is free to use and [b] he looks like my Dad.

In the following year, Perkins would be moved up in Scribner’s to the position of editor. Old CS, who ran the family firm, was impressed by Max. Within a few years he would also be challenged by Perkins’ championing of new literature from the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. He remained in the editorial department until his death in 1946, 35 years and three more daughters later.

My MBA thesis, ‘Manager as Muse’ was about Max Perkins and his work with Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Thomas “You Can’t Go Home Again” Wolfe [www.lulu.com/spotlight/suchfriends]. The excellent biography I used as a primary source, Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, by A. Scott Berg, is being turned into a film called Genius starring Colin Firth. And I’m working on an e-book version of my thesis, with all the boring parts taken out, so watch this space.

And check out a recent article in The Guardian about A. Scott Berg’s Perkins’ biography:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/oct/04/age-amazon-editors-max-perkins?CMP=twt_gu&commentpage=1

 

In America on this date 100 years ago, August 22nd, 1913…

…Dorothy Rothschild turned 20. She was living in New York City, where she had grown up, but now on her own for the first time. Based on her education at Miss Dana’s, she was working as a piano accompanist for a girls’ dancing school.

Dorothy Parker

But Dottie was also sending light verse and poetry to the widely read columns in the New York daily newspapers, hoping to get published. She and her father had written nonsense poems back and forth to each other for years. Now she was trying to go it on her own.

Dottie’s paternal uncle had gone down on the Titanic the year before, trying to save his wife. Her father, Henry, died in December of 1913, in Manhattan. Four years ago, Kevin Fitzpatrick of the Dorothy Parker Society [https://www.facebook.com/groups/dorothyparkersociety/] marked the building where Dorothy lived with her dad with a plaque:  http://youtube/nuurfqR2fqU.

If you’d like to know what else was going on in New York City in 1913, check out the page on my blog:  http://suchfriends.wordpress.com/about-such-friends/the-armory-show-1913/.

Happy 120th birthday, Dottie! Let’s all have a martini for her…

In England on this date 100 years ago, July 8th, 1913,…

…The Omega Workshops open their doors. Using money inherited from a Quaker uncle, painter and critic Roger Fry, 46, along with his Bloomsbury painter friends, Vanessa Bell, 34, and Duncan Grant, 28, produce textiles, ceramics, home furnishings—a whole range of art and decoration, for sale at 33 Fitzroy Square.

#33 Fitzroy Square, home of the Omega Workshops

#33 Fitzroy Square, home of the Omega Workshops

A few doors down from the house Vanessa’s sister, Virginia Woolf, 31, had shared with their brother, it is also convenient walking distance from where Vanessa and her husband, art critic Clive, 31, live with their two children.

Planning the opening celebration, Vanessa writes to Roger:  “We should get all our disreputable and…aristocratic friends to come, and after dinner we should repair to Fitzroy Square where there should be decorated furniture, painted walls, etc. There we should all get drunk and dance and kiss, orders would flow in and the aristocrats would feel they were really in the thick of things.” As they work together on this new art project, Vanessa is ending her affair with Roger, switching her attentions to fellow-painter Duncan, openly gay.

Invitation to Omega Workshops opening

Invitation to Omega Workshops opening

Over the six years the workshops are in business, their customers include the other members of the Bloomsbury group—Virginia’s husband Leonard, 32, writer and critic Lytton Strachey, 33, and economist John Maynard Keynes, 30—as well as Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 48, and his American secretary, Ezra Pound, 27. When Fry is away in Paris buying up art, Vanessa takes over the running of the operation, until she realizes she isn’t getting any painting done.

The Omega Workshops style still looks modern today. Here is the Roger Fry print which I bought in the gift shop of the Courtauld Gallery. It looks great in our Edwardian living room

Design for a Carpet by Roger Fry

Design for a Carpet by Roger Fry