In New York City, on Valentine’s Day, 1921…

…aspiring writer Robert McAlmon, 24, cannot believe his luck.

He is marrying…today…right after tea…the most fascinating woman he has ever met. Annie Ellerman, 26. British. Smart. Witty. Also a writer. And she has told him that her father, Sir John, one of the richest men in England, has promised she can have her inheritance, the equivalent of $30 million, once she is married and he meets her new husband.

So the newlyweds plan to sail to Liverpool at the end of the month. But, after meeting the family, they want to set off for Paris. McAlmon has read that a lot of American writers, including one of his favorites, Sherwood Anderson, 44, are living there on the Left Bank. He could use some of this ‘dowry’ to set up a publishing company, extending the Contact press that he has been trying to establish here in New York.

Annie also mentions that she prefers to be known by her pen name, Bryher. Oh, and when they go to Paris, she will bring along her close friend, poet Hilda Doolittle [known by her pen name HD], 34, and her daughter.

McAlmon feels that it will all work out fine…

Bryher and McAlmon in the year of their marriage, 1921

Bryher and McAlmon in the year of their marriage, 1921

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.

On the Left Bank of Paris, Spring, 1925…

…a man walks in to a bar.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 28, whose third novel, The Great Gatsby, has just been published by Scribner’s back in the US, goes to the Dingo on rue Delambre. He has been told he will find there the American writer that everyone in Paris is talking about, Ernest Hemingway, 25.

After reading a few of Ernest’s stories last year, Scott had written to his Scribner’s editor, Maxwell Perkins, 40, about

Hemmingway…I’d look him up right away.  He’s the real thing.’

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

Wearing his finest Brooks Brothers suit, Scott finds Ernest drinking at the bar with some of his British ex-pat friends, Duff Twysden, 32, and her distant cousin and current squeeze, Pat Guthrie, 30. Fitzgerald orders champagne for all, asks Hemingway questions about his wife, feels violently ill, and passes out. His new friends send him home in a taxi.

Hemingway is not impressed.

Ernest Hemingway, Duff Twysden, Hadley Hemingway, Donald Ogden Stewart and Pat Guthrie in Pamplona, Spain, for the bullfights a few months later, July 1925.

Ernest Hemingway, Duff Twysden, Hadley Hemingway, Donald Ogden Stewart and Pat Guthrie in Pamplona, Spain, for the bullfights a few months later, July 1925.

 

On the Left Bank of Paris, December, 1921…

…recently arrived Americans, Ernest Hemingway, 22, and his new wife, Hadley Richardson Hemingway, 30, are having drinks at one of their favourite cafes, the Dome, on the Boulevard de Montparnasse. They’re very excited about starting their new life here, living off Hadley’s trust fund and Ernest’s writing for the Toronto Star.

But, they’re lonely. They don’t know anyone. Their friend back in Chicago, novelist Sherwood Anderson, 45, has given them letters of introduction to other ex-patriate writers in the city, but they haven’t summoned up the courage to use them yet.

At the Dome in the 1920s

At the Dome in the 1920s

At the Dome last week

At the Dome last week

About ten minutes away, at 27 rue de Fleurus, two other American friends of Anderson, writer Gertrude Stein, 47, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 44, are getting ready for their Christmas party. Each year they invite the writers and painters living in Paris. Well, the ones they like.

And, on the other side of the Luxembourg Gardens, on rue de l’Odeon, there is a buzz around the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, run by another American, Sylvia Beach, 34. Irish author James Joyce, 39, is getting ready to give a reading of his new novel, Ulysses, which Sylvia is preparing to publish early next year. This reading is a way of getting more pre-orders to finance the project. All of cultural Paris is coming.

But not Gert and Alice. They cancelled their membership in Sylvia’s bookstore when she took on Joyce.

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.

American Sylvia and her Irishman on rue de l’Odeon in the 1920s

American Sylvia and her Irishman on rue de l’Odeon in the 1920s

American Kathleen and her Irishman on rue de l’Odeon last week

American Kathleen and her Irishman on rue de l’Odeon last week

In Paris, on September 8th, 1907…

Alice Babette Toklas, 30, hears a bell ring.

Having just arrived in Paris, Alice has been taken to rue Madame, near the Luxembourg Gardens, to visit with her fellow San Franciscans, the Stein family, who have been living there for the past few years.

The oldest, Michael, 42, and his wife, Sarah, 37, are art collectors who hold regular salons on Saturday nights to show off their paintings. Sarah had brought three Matisses home to California last year, after the earthquake, and Alice had been invited to see them there.

Michael’s brother, Leo, 35, also a serious art collector, comes by for dinner. He lives a few blocks away, with their sister, Gertrude, 33.

As Gertrude described the moment, years later in her Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas:

And there…I met Gertrude. I was impressed by the coral brooch she wore and by her voice. I may say that only three times in my life have I met a genius and each time a bell within me rang and I was not mistaken, and I may say that in each case it was before there was any general recognition of the quality of genius in them…In this way my new life began.’

A few days later, Alice heard a bell again when Gertrude took her to meet the Steins’ painter friend, Pablo Picasso, 25.

‘From that day on they were together until Gertrude’s death…They never travelled without each other or entertained separately, or worked on independent projects"—Diana Souhami, Gertrude and Alice

‘From that day on they were together until Gertrude’s death…They never travelled without each other or entertained separately, or worked on independent projects”—Diana Souhami, Gertrude and Alice

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.

In San Francisco, at 5:15 am, on Wednesday, April 18th, 1906…

…the earth moves.

A major earthquake wipes out 80% of the city and surrounding area, killing 3000 people and leaving almost three-quarters of the population homeless.

Back in Paris, American Michael Stein, 41, is worried about the family property back home, right in the middle of all the earthquake fires. His brother and sister, Leo, 33, and Gertrude, 32, who live a few blocks away, leave all responsibility for the family finances to him. He and his wife, Sarah, 35, decide they had better make the trip back to the US.

Sarah is thrilled. This is her chance to impress all their friends with the clothes and jewellery she has been buying in Paris. And the paintings. She has got to bring some of the paintings with her. Sarah decides on three Matisses, including the one of his wife with a green stripe. The folks in America have never seen anything like THAT.

Green Stripe (Madame Matisse)

Green Stripe (Madame Matisse)

 

 

 

 

Gertrude, in the evenings, is sitting in front of one of the artworks she and Leo have bought, Cezanne’s Portrait of Madame Cezanne. She is trying to do with her writing what Cezanne has done with his painting.

Portrait of Madame Cezanne

Portrait of Madame Cezanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.

In Paris, winter, 1906…

…Pittsburgh-born writer Gertrude Stein, 35, is taking her early evening walk. She leaves the Bateau Lavoir studio where she has spent the afternoon sitting in a big broken chair for her portrait by her friend, Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, 24.

'Such Friends' at Bateau Lavoir this week!

‘Such Friends’ at Bateau Lavoir this week!

Gertrude loves this time in the city, making her way down the steep steps and streets of Montmartre, across the Seine, to the apartment she has shared with her brother Leo, 33, at 27 rue de Fleurus for almost three years.

'Such Friends' at the top of the streets in Montmartre this week

‘Such Friends’ at the top of the streets in Montmartre this week

Gertrude and Leo are taking a great interest in the painters working in Paris these days. They’ve filled their own atelier with the paintings. Art lovers from Paris and abroad try to get invitations to come to their salon on Saturday nights to see the paintings and hear Leo declaim on his theories of modern art. Gertrude sits and listens.

Picasso's Portrait of Gertrude Stein

Picasso’s Portrait of Gertrude Stein

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together. You can read my piece, ‘On Seeing Picasso’s Portrait of Gertrude Stein for the Second Time, June 9, 2002′ here: https://suchfriends.wordpress.com/the-american-ex-patriates-in-paris/on-seeing-picasso%E2%80%99s-portrait-of-gertrude-stein/

In New York City, 1909…

Roger Fry, 42, is worried. He hasn’t been happy with the way his job with New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has been working out. Five years ago, when he first met the Museum’s new president, financier J P Morgan, 72, he was impressed. Two years later, when Morgan chose him over noted art historian Bernard Berenson, 44, to be curator of European painting, he was thrilled.

Initially Fry had enjoyed traveling with the ‘Big Man’ throughout Europe on art-buying excursions, and even the frequent trips to New York. He’d met Mark Twain!

But last year he decided that the travel was wearing him down. His wife, Helen, 45, was ill, and Fry had convinced the museum to reassign him as ‘European adviser’ so he could spend most of his time at home in London.

And now Fry’s suspicions about his wealthy American boss have been confirmed. Fry had negotiated a low price for a fabulous piece of Italian sculpture on the basis that it was going to the Metropolitan Museum. He has just found out that Morgan bought it for his own collection. At the reduced price. Fry suspects this has happened before.

He knows what he has to do. Fry has to tell one of the members of the Museum’s board of trustees. And he knows Morgan will have him fired.

J P Morgan attacking a paparazzi in 1909. Morgan rarely allowed himself to be photographed because he suffered from rosacea which made his nose appear purple.

J P Morgan attacking a paparazzi in 1909. Morgan rarely allowed himself to be photographed because he suffered from rosacea which made his nose appear purple.

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.

In London, 22nd November, 1906…

…she finally says yes.

Clive Bell, 25, Cambridge graduate, from a good family, has been proposing to Vanessa Stephen, 27, for months now. No, no, no, has been the answer.

Clive has been doing his best to ingratiate himself into the circle of her friends and family, including her sister Virginia, 24, and brothers Adrian, 23, and Thoby, 26.

But just two days ago, big, healthy, strapping, incredible Thoby, died. Ever since the Stephen siblings came back sick from a disastrous European tour, the doctors have been treating Thoby for malaria. But he was suffering from typhoid. The Stephens and all his Cambridge friends are devastated.

Clive isn’t sure whether Thoby’s death has influenced Vanessa’s change of heart. All he knows is, she said yes.

Brother and sister Vanessa and Thoby Stephen

Brother and sister Vanessa and Thoby Stephen

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.

In Jaffna, Ceylon, 1906…

Leonard Woolf, 25, feels as though he will never adjust to his life as a cadet in the British civil service, assisting the Government Agent here. In the past two years, he has survived typhoid, lost his virginity to a local prostitute, and carried on an affair with one of the women in the expat Brit community.

But it is still too depressing. The heat is oppressive and Charlie, the dog he brought with him from England, is suffering from it. Leonard exchanges letters every day with his friend from his years at Trinity College, Cambridge, essayist Lytton Strachey, also 25. But even that’s not enough. Lytton’s gossip about their friends back in Bloomsbury makes him feel even worse. Leonard writes,

I took out my gun the other night, made my will, and prepared to shoot myself…I shall live and die in these appalling countries now’

Leonard Woolf and friends in Jaffna, Ceylon

Leonard Woolf and friends in Jaffna, Ceylon

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.

 

 

In spring, 1906…

…English painter Duncan Grant, 21, is living in Paris. When his aunt gave him £1000 for his birthday in January, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it.

He has brought along his cousin and current lover, essayist Lytton Strachey, just turned 26, but the relationship is not going well. They’ve mostly spent time hanging out with English friends and relatives. Trying to make connections within the art world, Duncan is studying with painter Jacques-Emile Blanche, 45, and has visited the most talked-about art show, the Salons des Independents, but didn’t notice anything in particular.

American ex-patriate siblings, Leo, 33, and Gertrude Stein, 32, have also visited the exhibit. They were thrilled to hear about the scandal surrounding The Joy of Living [Bonheur de vivre] by their friend, Henri Matisse, 36. They started buying up his paintings last year and are planning to invite him to their salon at 27 rue de Fleurus on the Left Bank to introduce him to one of their other favourites, Pablo Picasso, 24.  She’s been sitting with him for her portrait.

 

Le Bonheur de Vivre [Joy of Life] Henri Matisse, 1905

Le Bonheur de Vivre [Joy of Life] Henri Matisse, 1905

Le Bonheur de Vivre [Joy of Life] Henri Matisse, 1905

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.