‘Such Friends’ 100 Years Ago, August 1910

In Ireland

…poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, 45, begins making notes in his diary for a poem that will be about masks. His secretary, Ezra Pound, 25, had introduced him to Japanese Noh drama a few years before, and Yeats has become attracted to the concept of the mask.

This year he has written to his fellow Abbey theatre founder, Lady Augusta Gregory, 58:

“If the masks work right I would put the fool and the blind man in Baile’s Strand [a one-act play which they had written together] into masks. It would give a wildness and extravagance that would be fine. I should also like the Abbey to be the first modern theatre to use the mask.”

The poem The Mask, reads:

“Put off that mask of burning gold
With emerald eyes.”
“O no, my dear, you make so bold
To find if hearts be wild and wise,
And yet not cold.”

“I would but find what’s there to find,
Love or deceit.”
“It was the mask engaged your mind,
And after set your heart to beat,
Not what’s behind.”

“But lest you are my enemy,
I must enquire.”
“O no, my dear, let all that be;
What matter, so there is but fire
In you, in me?”

In England

…in London, Quentin Bell is born, the second son of painter Vanessa, 31, and art critic Clive Bell, 28.

In the past few months Vanessa has been working on a painting of Quentin’s two-years-older brother, called Julian Bell and Nanny. Her London Morning has recently been in the New England Art Club exhibit, and she is helping her new friend Roger Fry, 43, prepare for his first Post-Impressionist exhibit, scheduled to open in a few months.

Vanessa’s sister Virginia Stephen, 28, has been in Miss Thomas’ private nursing home in Twickenham, and has just left for Cornwall with her nurse to spend time exercising. It will be another month before Virginia is well enough to visit the Bells and meet her newborn nephew.

In later years, Quentin’s summer birthday becomes the occasion for many Bloomsbury parties.

Quentin, an art historian and biographer, out lives almost all of them, dying at the age of 86 where the Bloomsberries flourished, in Sussex.

In France

…on the Left Bank in Paris, the apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus sits empty.

The regular inhabitants are summering in Italy. Gertrude Stein, 36, and her brother Leo, 38, have been going there regularly since they set up housekeeping together about seven years ago. Gertrude and Leo spend time learning about art from their friend Bernard Berenson, 45, and then buy up paintings by young artists when they are back in Paris.

This summer Gertrude and Leo are joined in Perugia by their new housemate, Alice B. Toklas, 33. Like the Steins, Alice is from San Francisco; she came to Paris for a visit three years ago and has now moved in with them at rue de Fleurus.

Leo has been very accommodating, giving Alice his studio to use as her own room. But within a few years, not being the center of attention begins to bother Leo, and he moves out. Alice wins.

In America

…in New York City, the new mayor, William Jay Gaynor, 61, survives an assassination attempt. A disgruntled former city employee shoots the Mayor as he is boarding a cruise ship for a European vacation.

By a fluke, the photographer from the New York World snaps a picture at the exact moment Gaynor is shot in the throat.

Over at the Morning Telegraph, Heywood Broun, 22, has been hired for $20 per week. Having recently flunked out of Harvard, Broun has taken refuge in journalism as the last career open to young men from good families who aren’t able to enter a more respectable profession.

in Morriston, NJ, Dorothy Rothschild, just turned 17, is enrolled in a Catholic school. She believes that she is the only Jew there, but as her father, not her mother, is Jewish, she’s never quite sure.

Dorothy is eventually kicked out of the school, later claiming,

“I was fired from there finally, for a lot of things, among them my insistence that the Immaculate Conception was spontaneous combustion…The convent taught me only that if you spit on a pencil eraser it will erase ink.”