‘Such Friends’ 100 Years Ago, November 1910

In Ireland

In Dublin, the Abbey Theatre premieres The Full Moon, a one-act comedy by founder, director and producer Lady Augusta Gregory, 58. Appearing as ‘Mrs. Broderick’ is regular Abbey actress Sara Allgood, 31.

Sara’s sister, Molly, 25, also an Abbey regular, had been engaged to Abbey founder and director, playwright John Millington Synge, who died of cancer the previous year at the age of 37. Molly goes on to appear in many plays and films under the name ‘Maire O’Neill.’

In England

In London, the exhibit ‘Manet and the Post Impressionists’ opens at the Grafton Galleries. Mounted by critic and painter Roger Fry, 43, and always referred to as ‘the first Post-Impressionist Exhibit,’ it causes a sensation.

His fellow art critics decide that Fry has gone nuts. Wilfrid Blunt, 70, former lover of Lady Gregory, writes in his diary:

‘The exhibition is either an extremely bad joke or a swindle. The drawing is on the level of that of an untaught child of seven or eight years old, the sense of color that of a tea-tray painter, the method that of a schoolboy who wipes his fingers on a slate after spitting on them.’

But Fry’s Bloomsbury friends are supportive. Fellow painter Vanessa Bell, 31, writes that

‘It was as if one might say things one had always felt instead of trying to say things that other people told one to feel.’

And Lytton Strachey, 30, says,

‘It made me feel very cold and cynical. I must say I should be pleased with myself, if I were Matisse or Picasso—to be able, a humble Frenchman [sic], to perform by means of a canvas and a little paint, the extraordinary feat of making some dozen country gentleman in England, every day for two months, grow purple in the face.’

In France

In Paris, the French painters are thrilled and amused that the work they have been familiar with for years is now causing the British to go apoplectic. One of the most provocative painters, in the eyes of the English, Paul Cezanne, had been dead for four years.

Lytton’s brother-in-law, painter Simon Bussy, 40, had introduced the Bloomsberries to Henri Matisse, also 40.

In America

In New York City, Pittsburgher George S. Kaufman, turns 21. He is struggling to get his playwriting career off the ground.

George has had a few poems published in the popular newspaper column by FPA [Franklin P. Adams, just turned 29] and has taken acting classes at the Alverne School of Dramatic Art. Earlier this year George had been hired as a theatre manager in Troy, New York, but despite his own personal investment of $100 in the production, he had cabled to his family:

‘LAST SUPPER WITH ORIGINAL CAST WOULDN’T DRAW IN THIS HOUSE.’

Now George is encouraged that a letter of introduction has secured him the job as director of The Gamblers by English playwright Charles Klein, 43. However, the producers neglect to tell George when the rehearsals start.

So George has temporarily gone back to the sales job at a ribbon manufacturing company that his father arranged for him.

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2 thoughts on “‘Such Friends’ 100 Years Ago, November 1910

  1. Fascinating and full of interest, as always.
    Hope you received the feature on ‘Shakespeare & Co’ ok.
    Some of the lunchtime lecturers at the BMI would benefit from some tips on how to present their interesting subjects…interestingly!
    All good wishes,
    David

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