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

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!