‘Such Friends’ 100 Years Ago: August 1909


August 1909

In Ireland:

W B Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory acquire the rights to present G B Shaw’s The Showing-Up of Blanco Posnet, recently banned in England, at their Abbey Theatre. Lady Gregory stands up to the British government, and the production goes on without fines. They also revive John Millington Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, a few months after the author’s untimely death.

In England:

Lytton Strachey writes in response to a query from his Cambridge friend Leonard Woolf, serving in Ceylon: ‘You must marry Virginia [Stephen]. She’s sitting waiting for you, is there any objection? She’s the only woman in the world with sufficient brains; it’s a miracle that she should exist; but if you’re not careful you’ll lose the opportunity. At any moment she might go off with heaven knows who—Duncan [Grant]? Quite possible. She’s young, wild, inquisitive, discontented, and longing to be in love. If I were you I should telegraph.”

Meanwhile, Virginia is writing to Duncan: “Good God! to have a room of one’s own with a real fire and books and tea and company, and no dinner-bells and distractions, and little time for doing something!—It’s a wonderful vision, and surely worth some risks!”

In France:

Bloomsbury friend Ottoline Morrell, married to MP Phillip Morrell, and fresh off her affair with Augustus John, is in Paris visiting American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein. Gertrude’s first book, Three Lives, has recently been published and her partner Alice B. Toklas has moved in with them at 27 rue de Fleurus. Ottoline also meets one of the Steins’ favorite painters, Henri Matisse, who is working on The Dance.

In America:

Heywood Broun, recent outstanding Harvard graduate who always looks like an unmade bed, is working on the Morning Telegraph where he is a frequent contributor to the continuing poker game. On some of the other 2600 dailies in America at the time, Marc Connelly is a reporter for the McKeesport, PA, Daily News, FPA [Franklin P. Adams] has a regular column in New York’s Daily Mail, and Alexander Woollcott has had his first interview for a job at the New York Times.

Welcome to ‘Such Friends’

‘…and say my glory was I had such friends,’ said poet William Butler Yeats. My research about early 20th century writers’ salons included him and the Irish Literary Renaissance, the Bloomsbury Group, the American ex-patriates in Paris, and the Algonquin Round Table. Quite an interesting group of friends!

Stop back here again soon for fascinating tidbits about their lives and relationships. Or e-mail me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.