“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, late August, 1920, Ogunquit, Maine

Irish-American art collector and supporter of the arts John Quinn, 50, is finally able to relax.

Earlier this summer he had rented this cottage on the Maine coast, for his sister, Julia Quinn Anderson, in her mid-thirties [but not her damned husband!]; her daughter, Mary, 13; the French couple who serve as Quinn’s house servants; and a professional nurse to care for Julia.

Main Street, Ogunquit, Maine

Julia is recuperating from a bout of illness, and Quinn had planned to stay with them up here for this whole month. But work in his busy Manhattan law firm had kept him in the city until just last week. He’s hoping they can all stay here well in to September.

Before leaving for this vacation, Quinn had made a point of getting caught up on all his correspondence:

To English painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, 37, he wrote complaining about his disappointment with the Welsh painter Augustus John, 42: 

“I responded for years to his calls for advance of money, and he promised me the first chance at his best work, but he constantly broke his word…So I finally broke with him.”

Augustus John, self-portrait, 1920

To his friend, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 55, he wrote,

“Much as I admire the work of modern French painters, they sometimes seem to me to carry their simplification, their abhorrence of a story, of a complete scene, too far and to go on too much for flowers and fruit and still-lifes and simplification of design that, seen by themselves, are satisfying, but they would become monotonous if seen in a large group of the same kind…Now I must write to…[Abbey Theatre director] Lady Gregory, 68, to whom I regret to say I have not written in some months. I hope that when writing to her…you told her how busy and overworked I have been.”

To novelist Joseph Conrad, 62, whose manuscripts Quinn has been buying, he wrote praising his latest work, and then added a cautionary note: 

“…[I have] learned by bitter experience what it is to overwork and to drive one’s body more than it can stand…[For the past 25 years, I have] worked hard, had made some money, and spent it or given it away without thought…”

Now Quinn needs a rest. Here, with his only family.

My thanks to the Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit for their help in researching this post.

“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@gypsyteacher.com.

To register for free to attend my webinar “Such Friends”: The Founding of the Abbey Theatre, this Friday, August 28, 2020, from 2 to 3 pm EDT, click here, My previous webinar, “Such Friends”:  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, is available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre. The program begins at the 11 minute mark, and my presentation at 16 minutes.This fall I will be talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, 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.

4 thoughts on ““Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, late August, 1920, Ogunquit, Maine

  1. I should think Quinn’s address book would have made for interesting reading in its own right …
    The Barber Institute in Birmingham has a wonderful drawing by Wyndham Lewis of his wife on blue paper. I would gladly give it wall space here if they found other uses for that particular spot …

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