100 years ago this month, December 1914…

In Ireland…

…Poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, 49, has started selling some of his manuscripts to his Irish-American friend, collector John Quinn, 44, and using the funds to support his dad, painter John Butler Yeats, 75, living near Quinn in Manhattan. Dad refuses to come home to Dublin.

Yeats’ ‘Hostess’ for many years, Lady Augusta Gregory, 62, back from the Abbey Theatre’s third tour of America, has rented out her stately home, Coole Park in the west of Ireland, for shooting parties.

Coole Park

Coole Park

In England…

Virginia, 32, and Leonard Woolf, 34, married two years now, are celebrating Christmas in Marlborough, near their Bloomsbury friend, writer Lytton Strachey, 34. There is a big party planned at the Lackett, the cottage Lytton is renting. He has introduced his lover and cousin, painter Duncan Grant, 29, to David ‘Bunny’ Garnett, 22. They seem to hit it off.

In France…

…British King George V, 49, has recently visited the frontline troops.

American writer Gertrude Stein, 40, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 37, have taken to walking around Paris with their friend, painter Pablo Picasso, 33. On the Boulevard Raspail one night, as Alice tells it later in her Autobiography, they see their first camouflaged cannon. Picasso stops:

“He was spell-bound…It is we that have created that, he said. And he was right, he had. From Cezanne through him they had come to that. His foresight was justified”

Big Bertha cannon, used in Paris

Big Bertha cannon, used in Pari

In America…

…The New York Stock Exchange, having closed except for bond trading when war broke out in Europe, has reopened. The Dow Jones Average drops 24%, the largest one day drop in its history.

Recently married, and recently fired from his personnel job, Harvard University alumni Robert Benchley, 25, has given the speech at the dinner following the Harvard-Yale game. His parody translation of a description of football from the Chinese earns him the reputation as ‘the greatest humourist of all time at Harvard.’

In New Jersey, Rev. Sylvester Beach, 62, has been the subject of gossip, even in New York publications, for having an affair with one of his parishioners. His wife Eleanor, just turned 53, preferring to live apart from her husband, tells him that she’ll take their daughters back to Europe, where they had lived before, to benefit from the travel experience. Her only regret, she writes, is that her daughter Nancy, 27, who prefers to be known as ‘Sylvia,’ will be ‘lost to this country.’

Sylvia Beach

Sylvia Beach

 

 

 

All are looking forward to 1915, feeling that the war will be over soon…

Almost 100 years ago…

This month, instead of looking back 100 years, I want to visit 1916.

Recently I attended a writing workshop, conducted by the terrific Fiona Joseph, connected to the Library of Birmingham’s exhibition, Voices of War:  Birmingham People 1914-1919 [http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/event/Events/voicesofwar]. The display will be up until the end of the year, and I highly recommend paying a visit.

Our assignment was to write a piece based on something we saw in the exhibit. I chose a quote from a conscientious objector’s letter, and connected it to the members of the Bloomsbury group.

[PS:  The first shot in the trailer for the film Carrington shows Jonathan Pryce as Lytton Strachey in the scene described below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9MXDP2B4DU]

1916

By Kathleen Dixon Donnelly

March 1916:  London

Essayist and pacifist Lytton Strachey, soon to turn 36, is called before the Hampstead Tribunal to apply for status as a conscientious objector. He brings a cushion for his tush, explaining to the military men sitting in judgment on him,

‘I am a martyr to the piles…’

When they ask him, ‘If you were to find a German soldier raping your sister, what would you do?,’ Lytton answers,

‘I would try to interpose my own body between them.’

He then gives an impassioned explanation of his stand against the current war, reminding them,

I am the society you’re fighting for.’

October 1916:  East Sussex

Painter Vanessa Bell, 37, is desperate. She is trying to find any way to keep her lover—Lytton’s cousin and former lover—painter Duncan Grant, just turned 31, out of the war.

The only way for a single man to avoid conscription is to work in service to his country. As a last resort, Vanessa finds a local farm, Charleston, which she can rent and live in with her sons. Duncan and their other painter/writer/intellectual/homosexual friends can then ‘work’ the farm.

 

Oh, and her husband, art critic Clive Bell, 34. He can help, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 1916:  Birmingham

‘Never mind if you feel a prig or if you look a fool before the rest of the world. Those living in 2016 will be the best judges of whether you did right or wrong at this time.’

–Gerald Lloyd, 30, conscientious objector

And we will…

Birmingham Remembering 1914-18

Birmingham Remembering 1914-18

100 years ago this month, October 1914…

In America…

Lawyer and art collector John Quinn, 44, has plenty to worry about.

John Quinn, 1870-1924

John Quinn, 1870-1924

He is looking out for—and financing—Irish painter John B. Yeats, 75, father of his friend, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 49. When the younger Yeats was visiting New York recently, the two friends agreed that Quinn would buy some of WB’s original manuscripts, and the poet would use the proceeds to pay for some of his father’s expenses.

But Quinn is more worried about Walter Pach, 31, one of his partners in the Armory Show of

the year before. They have decided that the Germans probably won’t occupy Paris soon, so Walter can sail off to France for a full month to convince European artists like Pablo Picasso, about to turn 33, Henri Matisse, 44, and others that they should lend their latest works to galleries in New York.

Pach and Quinn are determined to continue the work of the Armory show by organizing

–and financing—continual exhibits of the latest in art from Europe.

Once in Paris, Pach gets in touch with Matisse through fellow American Michael Stein, 49, who encourages the French artist to lend his works. Quinn had just bought Matisse’s Blue Nude from Michael’s brother Leo, 42, for a bargain basement price.

Blue Nude by Henri Matisse, 1907

Blue Nude by Henri Matisse, 1907

Leo is eager to get out of Paris, away from his sister, Gertrude, 40, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 37. The siblings have been fighting over who owns which paintings, so Leo is happy to sell what he can rather than leave it to Gertrude.

Quinn decides he will make good use of his own political contacts to help Pach on his

mission. He writes to the son of a friend, who is working in the American embassy in Paris,

‘I don’t want to burden you with unnecessary things, but I have told Mr. Pach that I was a

personal friend of your father’s…and that there was some poetic justice in my writing you about Mr. Pach’s mission, because it was your father and I that were really responsible, I feel, for the free art provisions in the Underwood Tariff Bill.’

Quinn and Congressman Oscar Underwood senior, 52, had managed the year before to get

US law changed so that works of art less than 20 years old would no longer be subject to higher import taxes. That was a big enough battle. Quinn is not going to let something like a world war stop his fellow Americans from experiencing the latest in European art.

Pach gets the paintings.

For more information about John Quinn, see the page to your right, http://suchfriends.wordpress.com/about-such-friends/i-want-to-tell-you-about-an-amazing-man/

And for more about the Armory Show, see the piece: http://suchfriends.wordpress.com/about-such-friends/the-armory-show-1913/

100 years ago this month, September 1914…

…In England

War has come to Bloomsbury.

The image of Lord Horatio Kitchener, 64, recruiting young men, appears for the first time, on the black and white cover of London Opinion magazine.

1st appearance of Lord Kitchener's recruiting image

1st appearance of Lord Kitchener’s recruiting image

Bloomsbury friend, critic Desmond MacCarthy, 37, has signed up for the Red Cross Ambulance Service; art critic Clive Bell, turning 33, is trying to figure out how to join a non-combat unit such as the Army Service Corps; and painter Duncan Grant, 29, has entered the National Reserve.

Despite the hostilities in the rest of Europe, the Bloomsberries don’t stop moving. Duncan takes a studio in Fitzroy Square as well as rooms in nearby 46 Gordon Square, where Clive lives with his wife, painter Vanessa Bell, 35. Their friend John Maynard Keynes, 31, writing articles for The Economist magazine, moves to Great Ormond Street; and Vanessa’s sister, writer Virginia Woolf, 32, and her husband, Leonard, 33, are house hunting in London while still spending time at the sisters’ Sussex retreat, Asham.

On Tuesday, 9th September, and Sunday, 14th September, I will be leading a ‘Such Friends’ walking tour of some of these spots in Bloomsbury. Either day we’re meeting at 12:30 at the Mrs. Dalloway bench in Gordon Square, and after a stroll around the area, taking the Tube to see the excellent exhibit, Virginia Woolf: Art, Life & Vision, at the National Portrait Gallery [http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/virginiawoolf/home.php]. Email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com if you would like to join us.

 …In France

Near Paris, the French and British forces rout the Germans and, despite the half million casualties, the Allies score a victory that leads most to believe the troops will be home by Christmas. From her vantage point in Huily, journalist Mildred Aldrich, 60, watches the battle, taking detailed notes in both her journal and letters to her friend and fellow-American ex-patriate, Gertrude Stein, 40, in Paris.

…in America

One who is convinced that the German defeat will mean a short war is American artist and critic Walter Pach, 31, who is hoping to follow up the success of last year’s Armory Show with future exhibits of the latest contemporary art. He decides this would be a good time to go back to Europe and collect the works that have already been promised.

Also in New York, at Columbia University, George S Kaufman, 24, is looking for a new career by taking a playwriting course. But at Princeton University, F. Scott Fitzgerald, turning 18, can write proudly in his ledger, ‘Play accepted.’ His Fie! Fie! Fi-Fi! musical for the university’s Triangle Club gets good reviews and is a big hit.

The socialist magazine The Masses carries an article by former Mexican war correspondent John Reed, 26, which states of the current conflict in Europe:

“We, who are Socialists, must hope — we may even expect — that out of this horror of bloodshed and dire destruction will come far-reaching social changes — and a long step forward towards our goal of Peace among Men.

“But we must not be duped by this editorial buncombe about Liberalism going forth to Holy War against Tyranny.

“This is not Our War.”

Yet.

Cover of The Masses, September 1914

Cover of The Masses, September 1914

100 years ago today, 4 August 1914, in England…

A production of The Wrens, a one-act play by Lady Augusta Gregory, 62, is playing in London. One of her fellow Abbey Theatre founders, George Moore, also 62, is in the city, but they haven’t spoken for years.

Painter Vanessa Bell, 35, is with her art critic husband Clive, 32, and his family at Cleve House in Wiltshire. Their friend, biographer Lytton Strachey, 34, is nearby in Marlborough, working on his essay, ‘Cardinal Manning.’ With all the talk of war, he is a bit worried about his sister who is travelling in Germany.

Vanessa’s sister, Virginia, also 32, is with her husband, Leonard Woolf, 33, farther east at her Sussex country house, Asham.

In Cambridge, visiting Americans Gertrude Stein, 40, and Alice B. Toklas, 37, have just been introduced to philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, 53, and Alice has heard bells. ‘I always heard bells when I met a genius,’ said Alice later. They may not be able to go home to Paris for a while, so Alice reluctantly wires her estranged father back in San Francisco for money.

Cambridge economist John Maynard Keynes, 31, is at Westminster. Two days before, at home proofreading his book A Treatise on Probability, with his friend Bertrand Russell, 42, Maynard received a letter from a friend at the Treasury that said, ‘I wanted to pick your brains and I thought you might enjoy the process.’ He knew the discussion would be related to the beginnings of war in Europe, and so hitched a ride in the sidecar of his brother-in-law’s motorcycle to get to London over the bank holiday weekend ASAP.

Lytton Strachey, surrounded by young Bloomsberries, enjoying the early August sun

Lytton Strachey, surrounded by young Bloomsberries, enjoying the early August sun

At 11 pm, after Germany has invaded Belgium, despite the British request for assurances of Belgian neutrality, Great Britain officially declares war.

100 years ago this month, July 1914…

In England…

…Americans Gertrude Stein, 40, and her partner Alice B. Toklas, 37, are visiting London. They are hopeful that British publisher John Lane, 60, of Bodley Head will make good on his promise to publish Gertrude’s Three Lives. Most of literary London isn’t familiar with her writing, but both Lane’s wife and his friend, art critic Roger Fry, 47, have recommended her.

In exchange Lane introduces Gertrude and Alice to the magazine Blast, published by Wyndham Lewis, 31. On a trip to Cambridge, they meet and become friends with philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, 53. Alice says that when she meets a genius she hears bells and it has happened three times: When she met Gertrude almost seven years before, then Pablo Picasso, 32, the very next day, and now Alfred. After this encounter however–no more bells.

 

The catalog for John Lane's publishing house, Bodley Head.

The catalog for John Lane’s publishing house, Bodley Head.

Gertrude’s friend and supporter, American Mabel Dodge, 35, has encouraged her to meet with Lane, and Gertrude promised Mabel that she will “do her best to look like a genius” in London. They attend Lane’s Sunday afternoon salon, and, as she did in her own drawing room in Paris, Gertrude sits quietly listening until a topic arises that she is interested in, and then talks for hours in an uninterrupted flow. Alice just sits and listens.

At the end of the month, King George V holds a conference at Buckingham Palace to work out how to introduce Home Rule to Ireland without inciting a civil war. Leaders from both sides, the nationalists and the unionists, sit down together for the first time to talk things out, as civilized countries do.

Also in London, American journalist and playwright George S. Kaufman, 24, has sailed over to take in the European sights. He manages to attend a meeting of suffragettes before taking off to visit the Netherlands and France.

In France…

…In addition to Kaufman, another newspaperman, New York Times drama critic Alexander Woollcott, 27, is in Paris to learn about theatre and interview legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt, 69. He’ll be heading home soon.

Gertrude’s brother Michael, 49, has lent 19 of their paintings by Henri Matisse, 44, to a German gallery. The artist had asked his friends to make the loan, assuring them that the gallery in Berlin was a perfectly safe place to send them.

Matisse’s Promenade des Oliviers which the Steins lent to a Berlin gallery in July 1914, and recently sold for £2.77 million in London

Matisse’s Promenade des Oliviers which the Steins lent to a Berlin gallery in July 1914, and recently sold for £2.77 million in London

On the 26th of the month, when Michael’s wife Sarah turns 44, the Tour de France ends with a victory by the incumbent champion, Belgian Philippe Thys, 24. Everyone is looking forward to next year’s race.

In America…

…at the New York Tribune, top columnist FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, 32] is lobbying to get a full time reporting job for his protégé, George S Kaufman, on his way back from his European tour.

Alfred Stieglitz, 50, owner of the 291 Gallery, publishes a special issue, “What is 291?” of his magazine Camera Work, including a tribute to the writings of Gertrude Stein by her friend and American publicist Mabel Dodge.

Stieglitz's magazine Camera Work

Stieglitz’s magazine Camera Work

Dodge is also working on a longer essay, “The Secret of War,” which the socialist magazine The Masses is interested in publishing. Based on her recent experience in Europe, she writes that the secret of war is that “Men like fighting. That is the force behind the war… We have been saying for a long time that war isn’t civilized. We should have realized perhaps that civilization isn’t human… [Another truth is] just as deep and just as profound… Women don’t like war.”

100 years ago this month, June 1914…

In England…

…in Sussex, Leonard Woolf, 33, is going on a speaking trip to Birmingham on behalf of the socialist Fabian Society. He is particularly worried about leaving his wife, Virginia, 32, on her own at their home, Asham. They’ve been married less than two years, and she has been quite ill for a lot of that time. Before he leaves they negotiate a strict schedule for her to follow in his absence.

In London, publisher Grant Richards brings out the first edition of Dubliners by James Joyce, 32. The same publisher had turned down the collection of 15 short stories a decade earlier, but this time is persuaded by American poet Ezra Pound, 28, who is serializing Joyce’s novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in his magazine The Egoist.

First edition of James Joyce's Dubliners

First edition of James Joyce’s Dubliners

The United Kingdom is debating the pros and cons of switching to daylight saving time. The Manchester Guardian says yes!

By the end of the month, Alexander Woollcott, 27, whose employer, the New York Times, appointed him as drama critic and then sent him off to Europe to learn about theatre, is soaking up all he can and getting ready to head over to Paris.

In France…

…in Paris, Woollcott meets with the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt, 69, before she embarks on her triumphant tour of America. He later writes, ‘She was a ravaged and desiccated old woman with one leg. And the foot of that one was already in the grave.’

American ex-pat Gertrude Stein, 40, has just bought the first of many paintings by Juan Gris, 27, from one of her favourite art dealers, Daniel Kahnweiler, just turning 30. But she is most excited that she has finally seen one of her first works, Tender Buttons, published in the States. So far, reviews are mixed.

On 28th June, all of Paris cheers on the start of the twelfth Tour de France.

Tour de France, 1914, Paris

Tour de France, 1914, Paris

 

In America…

…in Chicago, novelist Sherwood Anderson, 37, is impressed by Stein’s Tender Buttons. He has read about her cubist approach to literature in a new magazine, The Little Review, published by Margaret Anderson, 27, which has asked him for contributions.

In Kansas City, MO, Virgil Thomson, 17, graduates from Central High School and is heading off to the new Kansas City Polytechnic Institute, practicing the organ in his spare time.

In St Paul, MN, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, also 17, is lamenting to his journal that he has failed algebra, trigonometry, coordinate geometry, and most humiliating, hygiene.

In Pittsburgh, the Pirates’ Honus Wagner, 40, becomes the first baseball player in the 20th century to have 3000 hits.

Honus Wagner, Pittsburgh Pirates record breaker

Honus Wagner, Pittsburgh Pirates record breaker

In New York City, Dorothy Rothschild, 20, is putting her convent school lessons to work by teaching dancing classes, and sending light verses off to the city’s many newspaper columnists. She doesn’t think of these as real writing. Her father, who died a few months before, used to toss them off as jokes, so, obviously, anyone can write like that.

Dorothy dreams of having one of her poems published in the most important column in the city, the New York Tribune’s ‘Conning Tower,’ written by FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams], 32. Adams has been lured to the Trib from the Evening Mail, bringing his substantial readership with him.

On June 28th, the front page of the Tribune reports that former president Theodore Roosevelt, recently returned from his South American expedition, is cancelling a speaking engagement in Pittsburgh on doctor’s orders; John D. Rockefeller is donating $2.55 million to the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research; and Mrs. A. H. Miller, 28, has drowned in a reservoir when the horse pulling her wagon is scared by a goose.

Front page of the New York Tribune, June 28, 1914

Front page of the New York Tribune, June 28, 1914

100 years ago this month, May 1914…

Vanessa Bell, about to turn 35, is in Paris for the opening of a new staging of Twelfth Night [La Nuit des Rois], by Jacques Copeau, also 34, with costumes by her fellow Bloomsbury painter Duncan Grant, 29. Her husband, art critic Clive Bell, 33, is also along for the trip. The visiting Bloomsberries take advantage of the opportunity to see the art collection of American ex-patriates Michael, 49, and Sarah Stein, 43, at their flat on rue Madame. In turn they introduce the Brits to Henri Matisse, 44.

Michael’s sister, Gertrude Stein, 40, takes Duncan to meet her favourite of the Paris artists, Pablo Picasso, 32, in his studio. Duncan notices that the Spaniard is experimenting with papier-colle, and volunteers to bring him some wallpaper rolls he has found in his hotel room, altho Picasso protests that this amounts to stealing. Duncan later writes to Clive about the upcoming return visit,

‘I shall find it difficult to know what to say…’

Copeau’s minimalist version of Twelfth Night is a big hit, and reviewers single out Duncan’s costume designs as

‘enchanting, gay and reposeful…[but]…inappropriate to the play.’

Here is a piece of fabric designed by Vanessa the year before for the Omega Workshops, which Duncan used in one of the costumes for the play:

Maud by Vanessa Bell (1913)

Maud by Vanessa Bell (1913)

And here is the Facebook page for the Abbey Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night which is running until the end of this month: https://www.facebook.com/abbeytheatredublin?fref=nf

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