“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, early May, 1921, en route from New York City to Paris

Eleanor Beach, 59, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is enjoying her crossing. She’s looking forward to seeing her daughters—she calls them her “chicks”—who live in Europe now.

But Eleanor is concerned about the precious parcel in her luggage.

Her adventurous daughter Sylvia, 34, has not only opened her own business, a bookstore on the Left Bank of Paris called Shakespeare & Co., but now she’s become a publisher too. She’s offered to publish the scandalous novel, Ulysses, by Irish ex-patriate writer James Joyce, 39. Earlier this year, a court in New York declared excerpts which appeared in a magazine to be obscene, so no decent publisher will touch it.

Sylvia snapped up the opportunity.

A wealthy New York lawyer, John Quinn, 51, is buying copies of the handwritten manuscript to keep some cash flowing to Joyce. Just last month he received in the mail the text of the “Circe” section of the novel.

James Joyce’s “Circe” manuscript

Good thing. Back in Paris, one of the many typists working on the book had her copy seized by her outraged husband and thrown into the fire! Apparently he agreed with the New York court. The typist salvaged what she could, but Joyce and Beach implored Quinn to send his copy back so it can be typed.

That’s where Eleanor comes in. For the past few weeks she has been calling Quinn asking if he would entrust her with the manuscript to bring along on her voyage over.

He has consistently said no. Over and over again. And, as she pointed out to her daughter, he used “language unfit” for a minister’s wife like Mrs. Beach.

Finally, the rude man agreed to have the pages of the manuscript photographed so Mrs. Beach could take the pictures with her instead.

Eleanor is well aware of the importance of the parcel in the luggage which she is bringing to Paris.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available on Amazon in print and e-book versions. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

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 e-book 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.

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