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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join us.
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.
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.”
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.
At 11 pm, after Germany has invaded Belgium, despite the British request for assurances of Belgian neutrality, Great Britain officially declares war.
…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.
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 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.
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.
…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.
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.”
…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.
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 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.
…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.
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.
…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:
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
…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:
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:
…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:
…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.
…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.