“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, January 30, 1920, New York City

Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 54, and his wife Georgie, 27, are enjoying the first few days of his American lecture tour. They have left their 11-month old daughter, Annie, back in Dublin with his sisters, and are looking forward to the freedom of traipsing around the United States for the next four months.

Although it is just sinking in that Prohibition started a couple of weeks ago, and they can’t get a drink in this town. Or any town.

Georgie has met her father-in-law, the painter John Butler Yeats, 80, for the first time, and finds him charming. He’s quite enamored of his new daughter-in-law as well, writing to Willie’s sister back in Ireland that Georgie has

no vast depths…[but] endless kindness and sympathy and I fancy a lot of practical talent.”

John Butler Yeats drawing

Chalk drawing of John Butler Yeats

Tonight the Yeatses are probably going to attend the Metropolitan Opera’s Oberon or The Elf King’s Oath, which their friend, Irish-American art collector, John Quinn, 49, has recommended. They are excited about seeing the performance by the fantastic Rosa Ponselle, just turned 23, one of the Met’s top young stars.

Rosa Ponselle

Rosa Ponselle

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

In 2020 I will be talking about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, January 25, 1920, New York City

Dorothy Parker, 26, is clearing out her desk on her last day as Vanity Fair’s drama critic.

She’d loved this job. She’d spent the past four years with Conde Nast publishing, first at Vogue. She was thrilled when she was moved up to Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair cover Jan 1920

Vanity Fair, January 1920

Two weeks ago, the editor-in-chief, Frank Crowninshield, 47, had invited her for tea and scones at the Plaza Hotel. Dottie thought she was going to get that raise she had asked for.

Ha.

Crownie apologetically explained that the regular drama critic she had replaced, P. G. Wodehouse, 38, was returning, so she’d have to go, of course. He also just mentioned that Mr. Nast, 46, wasn’t happy that so many Broadway producers complained about her negative reviews of their plays. Saying that Billie Burke, 35, the actress-wife of impresario Flo Ziegfeld, 52, had “thick ankles” was hardly theatrical criticism. Ziegfeld was threatening to pull his advertising.

Well, critics are supposed to give bad reviews too. That’s why they are “critics,” she thought. As she ordered the most expensive dessert.

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker, nee Rothschild

Back at her apartment, her husband, Eddie, 26, still getting over the war, was no help. Parker had called her best friend, Vanity Fair managing editor Robert Benchley, 30, at his home in Scarsdale. He had come right down on the next train.

Adding her firing to that of their colleague, Robert Sherwood, 23, who was replaced by Nast’s children’s piano teacher, showed Parker and Benchley a pattern that they weren’t happy about.

In the office the next morning, Benchley had written his resignation. He had explained to Crownie—who hadn’t expected to lose a good managing editor—that the job wasn’t worth having without his two colleagues.

Robert_C_Benchley young

Robert Benchley

Parker was astounded. Benchley had a wife and two sons in the suburbs. Gertrude, 30, had said she would support her husband’s decision, but she sure wasn’t happy about it.

It was the greatest act of friendship I’d known,”

Parker said later.

So now, on her last day, taking everything she could with her from the office, leaving nothing but the scent of her favorite perfume, Coty’s Chypre, behind, Dottie was conjuring up all the free-lance ways she could keep writing and earning. Crownie had suggested working from home. But she didn’t even know how to change a typewriter ribbon.

Two of their New York newspaper friends, the Times drama critic Alexander Woollcott, just turned 33, and the city’s most-read columnist, FPA, 38, at the Tribune, with whom they lunch almost every day at the nearby Algonquin Hotel, have promised to promote them in their papers. That would get those New York publisher tongues wagging.

Because of his contract, Benchley had to stay on until the end of the month—he plans to go out with a piece, “The Social Life of the Newt.” He is being replaced by Princeton grad Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 24. All Parker remembers about him is that he had hit on her during his job interview.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

This spring I will be talking about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, January 16, 1920, America

All across the country, in bars and saloons—and churches—people are waiting for the stroke of midnight. When America will go dry.

Prohibition protesters

Prohibition protesters

One year ago to the day, Nebraska became the 36th state of the union to ratify the 18th  Amendment—only 13 months after it was passed by Congress—which prohibits the

manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.”

But not consumption.

So Americans can still drink—but they now have to get their booze through illegal means. And they sure do.

At the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, a prayer service is being held, attended by those who fought for the last few years to have the amendment passed, led by inspirational speaker and three-time failed presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan. 59.

Wm. Jennings Bryan

William Jennings Bryan

In the bars and saloons, as midnight draws closer, bartenders are saying,

Drink up.”

Cheers.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both theUniversity of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

 

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, January 10, 1920, in New Orleans, LA

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, is eagerly anticipating receiving the galleys for his first novel, This Side of Paradise, so he can correct them during his self-imposed writing retreat here in New Orleans. He is writing to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, 35, at Charles Scribner’s Sons in Manhattan, about his next novel:

I want to start it, but I don’t want to get broke in the middle and…have to write short stories again—because I don’t enjoy [writing stories] and just do it for money…There’s nothing in collections of short stories is there?”

perkins in suit

Max Perkins

A week later, Perkins writes back confirming Fitzgerald’s suspicions, but offering some encouragement:

It seems to me that [your stories] have the popular note which would be likely to make them sell in book form. I wish you did care more about writing them…because they have great value in making you a reputation and because they are quite worthwhile in themselves…Still we should not like to interfere with your novels…”

Perkins believes it’s a good idea to follow an author’s novel with a short story collection, increasing sales of both.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about Max Perkins and his relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’sOsher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

 

“Such Friends” 100 years ago, January 1, 1920…

 

America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

That was 100 years ago. So here we are again. At the beginning of the Twenties. Will this be a similar decade?!

There’s one way to tell:  To look back at certain points and document what was happening a century before, with the artists and writers who were “Such Friends”:

William Butler Yeats and the Irish Literary Renaissance,

Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group,

Gertrude Stein and the Americans in Paris, and

Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table,

in Ireland, England, France and America.

As the new decade begins…

Irish poet W B Yeats, 54, is getting ready to go back to the United States on his third American lecture tour, this time with his wife, Georgie Hyde-Lees, 28. They are leaving the baby Anne, just 11 months old, back in Ireland with his sisters.

Yeats and Geo 1923

Georgie and William Butler Yeats

Hogarth Press owners, novelist Virginia Woolf, about to turn 38, and her husband Leonard, 39, have been celebrating the holidays at Monk’s House in Sussex, which they bought last year at auction. This coming year, they want to spend more time outside of too-busy London.

Va and Leon

Virginia and Leonard Woolf

In Paris, American writer Gertrude Stein, 45, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 42, are still getting back to normal after the Armistice. Their apartment, on the Left Bank near the Luxembourg Gardens, had hosted salons for all the local painters before the Great War. Who will come now?

Gert and Alice with the paintings

Alice B. Toklas and her partner Gertrude Stein with Picassos

Vanity Fair writers Dorothy Parker, 26, Robert Benchley, 30, and their “such friends” are lunching regularly at the Algonquin Hotel in midtown Manhattan. And trying to drink up in the last few weeks before the Volstead Act—Prohibition—goes into effect. It won’t slow them down.

parkerbenchley cartoon

Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley

Join me on a journey through the “Literary 1920s,” tracking these characters in their place and time, 100 years ago. Happy New Year!

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.