On Christmas…

…1917, in England, Virginia, 35, and Leonard Woolf, 37, are at Asham, her house in Sussex. Over the holiday, they will visit with Virginia’s sister, painter Vanessa Bell, 38, at her nearby house, Charleston, where economist John Maynard Keynes, 34, will come over from Tidmarsh, just down the lane. This year, at the height of the war, his work for the Treasury Department has taken him to America and France.

The Woolfs’ new Hogarth Press has just published their Two Stories and hired a part-time assistant. Virginia has been working on her second novel, Night and Day, and writing reviews for the Times Literary Supplement.

In France, volunteers to the American Fund for French Wounded Gertrude Stein, 43, and Alice B. Toklas, 40, are dancing with the soldiers in Perpignan to keep up morale. Gertrude has been working on Have They Attacked Mary He Giggled:  A Political Caricature. Later she shows it to her fellow ex-patriate Sylvia Beach, 30, who refers to it as

“that thing with a terrifying title.”

New York Times drama critic Pvt. Alexander Woollcott, 30, and New York Tribune columnist Pvt. Heywood Broun, 29, are both stationed in France and visiting Paris. Broun’s new wife, Ruth Hale, 30, has also been reporting from Paris, but recently returned to the States to give birth to their son, Heywood Hale Broun.

General John J. Pershing, 57, has just approved the creation of the Stars and Stripes, a weekly newspaper for servicemen by servicemen. Although at 10 cents a copy it costs more than other English language papers available, it soon hits a circulation of 30,000. In a few months, Woollcott shows up at the offices and volunteers to join the staff of Pvt. Harold Ross, 25, editor.

In America, Sherwood Anderson, 41, married to his second wife and unhappily working in an advertising agency, has had his second novel, Marching Men, published. This Christmas Anderson has taken to locking himself in his writing room and dressing up.

It is the year when America officially entered The Great War, with President Woodrow Wilson, about to turn 61, proclaiming:

“The world must be made safe for democracy.”

…ten years later, 1927, in England, Virginia and Leonard are visiting with Vanessa and her family at Charleston again. But now the Woolfs are living in nearby Monk’s House which they purchased at auction eight years ago. Among the 40 titles their Hogarth Press has published this year is Virginia’s fifth novel, To the Lighthouse, with Vanessa’s artwork on the cover.

In Paris, Ernest Hemingway, 28, and his pregnant second wife, Pauline, have decided to move back to the United States. When they leave for Key West, Hemingway packs up the manuscript he is working on and puts it in a trunk which he stores at the Ritz Hotel. The unfinished book will be published 37 years later, posthumously, as A Moveable Feast.

Composer Virgil Thomson, 31, entertains his Christmas guests by performing Act I of the opera he is working on with Gertrude Stein, Four Saints in Three Acts.

In America, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 31, is giving a party for his daughter, Scottie, 6. He is working on his fourth novel, which will be published seven years later as Tender Is the Night.

New Yorker “Constant Reader” columnist Dorothy Parker, 34, is pining for her latest beau, a right wing Republican, although he boasts of his infidelity. Her former lover, playwright Charles MacArthur, 32, is off to Atlantic City with their fellow Algonquin Round Table member, New Yorker editor Harold Ross, 35. Ross has told his wife Jane Grant, 35, that when he returns, she should take a trip,

“so I can have this house with some privacy.”

The New Yorker, which Ross and Grant founded together two years before, has finally turned a profit.

It is the year when Charles Lindbergh, 25, flew solo across the Atlantic, Marcel Duchamp, 40, was ranked as one of the top chess players in America, and Babe Ruth, 32, hit a record-breaking 60 home runs.

Scroll down to see what the writers were doing 100 years ago this month, December 1910. Or follow them daily on Twitter @SuchFriends.

Happy holidays to all of you in 2011!

‘Such Friends’ 100 Years Ago, December 1910

In Ireland

Coats, a one-act comedy by Lady Augusta Gregory, 58, premieres at her Abbey Theatre, along with The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, 54.

Shaw’s play had debuted at the Abbey the year before, defying the censorship of the British government in Dublin Castle. Augusta and her fellow Abbey founder and director, William Butler Yeats, 45, had acquired the rights from Shaw after his play about hypocrisy had been banned by the English Lord Chamberlain because of its portrayal of a prostitute with integrity.

The Abbey was not fined for presenting the banned play, and included it in its touring repertoire for the next few years.

In England

‘On or about December 1910,’ wrote Virginia Woolf 14 years later, ‘human character changed.’

In this pivotal month and year, she is 28-year-old Virginia Stephen, working for women’s suffrage. Her married sister, painter Vanessa Bell, 31, has just had her first child. Their friend, art critic Roger Fry, just turned 44, is presiding over his first post-impressionist exhibit, which has introduced Cezanne and Monet to the British public with scandalous results.

A few years before, their other Bloomsbury friend Lytton Strachey, then 28, had scandalized them all, as Virginia remembered:

“It was a spring evening. Vanessa and I were sitting in the drawing room…Suddenly the door opened and the long and sinister figure of Mr. Strachey stood on the threshold. He pointed his finger at a stain on Vanessa’s white dress. ‘Semen?’ he said. Can one really say it? I thought and we burst out laughing. With that one word all barriers of reticence and reserve went down. A flood of the sacred fluid seemed to overwhelm us. Sex permeated our conversation. The word bugger was never far from our lips. We discussed copulation with the same excitement and openness that we had discussed the nature of good. It is strange to think how reticent, how reserved we had been and for how long.”

In France

Lytton is recuperating from yet another bout of illness, and visiting his sister Dorothy, 44, and her husband Simon Bussy, 40, in Roquebrune.

Dorothy had married the French painter seven years before, and they moved to this house in the south of France that her father owned. Their marriage shocked the Strachey family. Bussy was younger! He used his bread to clean his plate! He was French! But her brother Lytton admired his older sister’s courage.

Simon is friends with other French painters, such as Henri Matisse, about to turn 41, whom he introduces to many of Lytton’s Bloomsbury friends.

In America

On New Year’s Eve, in the Episcopal Church in Plainfield, NJ, Maxwell Perkins, 26, marries Louse Saunders, 17. It is quite a family affair. His brothers and her sisters are part of the wedding party, and his uncle performs the service.

The young couple had both attended this church while growing up, but had only taken a serious interest in each other about 18 months ago. As a young reporter with the New York Times, Max knew he couldn’t support a wife and family. But his new job gave him regular working hours and a steady salary. He had recently joined the venerable publishing house of Charles Scribner’s and Sons. In the advertising department.

Elsewhere in the US, Scribner’s future star writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 14, Ernest Hemingway, 11, and Thomas Wolfe, 10, are dreaming of becoming novelists.

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