Harriet Shaw Weaver, 44, publisher and owner of the Egoist Press, is somewhat relieved after reading the letter from Irish novelist James Joyce, 39, living in Paris, one of the writers she has been supporting for years.
A bit ago, two other writers she supports, Englishman Wyndham Lewis, 38, and American Robert McAlmon, 26, had both mentioned to her that their mutual friend Joyce uses some of the money she sends to him to fund a “lavish” lifestyle, meaning most evenings he ends up quite drunk. And she thought that she has been helping out his family.
Harriet is no prude. She is an active suffragist and has used her family inheritance [her maternal grandfather did quite well in the cotton trade] to support writers and artists, through the Egoist magazine and now her Egoist Press, as well as personally financing many creative individuals. She published excerpts from Joyce’s Ulysses in her magazine even though they had to be printed abroad because English printers wouldn’t touch the “obscene” text.
Early issue of The Egoist
But she wrote to Joyce earlier this month to express her concerns about his drinking.
Harriet is pleased with his response.
Joyce writes that there are lots of rumors about the way he lives. He’s a spy. He’s addicted to cocaine. He’s lazy. And mad. And even dying.
Joyce describes the technique he is using to write the scandalous novel Ulysses:
I have not read a work of literature for several years. My head is full of pebbles and rubbish and broken matches and bits of glass picked up ’most everywhere. The task I set myself technically in writing a book from 18 different points of view and in as many styles, all apparently unknown or undiscovered by my fellow tradesmen…would be enough to upset anyone’s mental balance. I want to finish the book and try to settle my entangled material affairs. After that I want a good long rest in which to forget Ulysses completely. I now end this long rambling shambling speech having said nothing of the darker aspects of my detestable character.”
However, at the end of the letter, Joyce confesses about his drinking,
Yet you are probably right.”
Harriet is not sure. She and Joyce have been corresponding almost daily since she published his novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man four years ago. Once she has begun to support an artist, she has never wavered.
But should she continue to invest her capital in an Irishman who drinks so much?
This summer I am talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at the University of Pittsburgh. In the fall I will be giving presentations about writers’ salons in Dublin and London before the Great War in the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, just turned 56, living in Berkshire, England, with his pregnant wife, is convinced that he has finally gotten his father to agree.
His Dad, painter John Butler “JB” Yeats, 82, has been living in New York City for 13 years. He went over on holiday and just decided to stay. Despite constant entreaties from his son and daughters.
Yeats’ friend, Irish-American lawyer John Quinn, 51, has been looking out for JB, but he’s running out of patience with the older man’s demands. And, with a baby on the way, Willie can’t afford to keep covering Dad’s expenses.
Willie has issued an ultimatum and Quinn is booking JB passage back to Ireland for this fall.
Yeats’ sister Lolly, 53, a publisher and teacher, is thrilled that Dad will be coming to live with her and her sister Lily, 54, an embroiderer, in the Dundrum suburb of south Dublin. They have painted his room and bought him a new bed and mattress.
Lily Yeats at Bedford Park by JB Yeats
Yesterday Lolly wrote to assure her father that in the intervening 13 years, his daughters have changed. They’re no longer irritable and over-tired, and they look forward to just sitting and chatting with him. Their brother, Willie, however, is wondering whether Dad will be able to stick to a curfew.
In Manhattan, JB Yeats is in no humor to go back to his family.
He has just read parts of Willie’s family memoir, “Four Years,” scheduled to appear in TheDial literary magazine. Dad has a big problem with at least one item in the text. Back when the family lived in the Bedford Park neighborhood of West London, young Willie left for two weeks to do some research in Oxford. In the memoir he describes the family as “enraged” at his absence.
Yeats’ family home in Bedford Park
Not the way Dad recalls it. He remembers the loving family being supportive of this overgrown teenager.
Yesterday he wrote to Willie,
As to Lily and Lollie, they were too busy to be ‘enraged’ about anything. Lily working all day…, and Lolly dashing about giving lectures on picture painting and earning close on 300 pounds a year…while both gave all their earnings to the house. And besides all this work, of course, they did the housekeeping and had to contrive things and see to things for their invalid mother…”
He admonishes his son for choosing a career writing plays and establishing Dublin’s Abbey Theatre with Lady Augusta Gregory, 69, and other friends. If he were a good son he would have collaborated with his artist-father, and thereby helped both their careers.
And by the way, Dad isn’t coming back.
The W. B. Yeats Bedford Park Artwork Project, a community-led arts/education charity, is working to install a major contemporary sculpture, the first ever honouring Yeats in Britain, at the former Yeats family home. Find out more here.
This summer I am talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at the University of Pittsburgh. This fall, at the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University, I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London before the Great War.
American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 28, is having dinner with two of her friends visiting from New York City, hit novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, and his wife, Zelda, 20, on their first trip to Europe.
Edna St. Vincent Millay’s passport
They want to meet up with Scott’s friend from his days at Princeton University, Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 26, just arrived in Paris from New York.
“Poor Bunny,” as she calls him, had eagerly found Millay as soon as he showed up two days ago. Edna made sure that, when Bunny came to her hotel room, on the rue de l’Universite, she was dressed in a demure black dress, at her typewriter, surrounded by neatly stacked manuscripts, evidence that she is indeed working. After all, Millay is living here as the foreign correspondent for Vanity Fair, thanks to Bunny, managing editor of the magazine.
Since she has been here, Edna has only written to Bunny once, sending him one of her poems. He must know that their relationship is over; he’s been seeing someone else, an actress. But it’s pretty clear he came to Paris mostly to meet up with Millay.
As they chatted, Edna started feeling more comfortable, so she confided in Bunny that she is planning to marry Englishman George Slocombe, 27, special correspondent for the London Daily Herald. Well, as soon as he divorces his wife and kids in the suburbs. She wants to move to England with him. Edna has explained to George that Bunny is “just a friend” from New York.
Meanwhile, Bunny has moved from his Right Bank [i.e., posh] hotel to a pension just a few blocks away from her hotel, on this side of the River Seine [i.e., funky].
Scott and Zelda are staying on the Right Bank. They say they’ll try to find Bunny. Edna is in no hurry.
The Fitzgeralds haven’t been enjoying this trip. England. Italy. France—They’ve been disappointed all along. Zelda has been sick because she’s pregnant. Now they are looking forward to going home, albeit via England again. They might move to Zelda’s home state of Alabama next. They feel that they are done with Europe.
He is so anxious to know you, for he says you have influenced him ever so much and that you stand as such a great master of words,”
reads the letter of introduction that Sylvia Beach, 34, owner of the Left Bank bookshop Shakespeare & Co., has sent to Gertrude Stein, 47, about their visiting fellow American, novelist Sherwood Anderson, 44. Gertrude and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, also 44, instantly decide that they would love to meet him.
Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein at home
A few days ago, Beach had found Anderson looking at his own book, Winesburg, Ohio, in the display window of her shop, and invited him in. Even after having great success two years ago with that collection of stories focused on the residents of one town, he still works in an ad agency back in Chicago. But a generous benefactor agreed to pay his expenses for this first trip to Europe. Anderson has read some of Stein’s work in obscure American publications and has been impressed by her radical approach to writing.
Anderson and his wife Tennessee, 47, arrive at 27 rue de Fleurus, anticipating being in the presence of greatness. Alice is out running errands, but they talk at length with Gertrude about writing and writers. Sherwood tells her how much her writing has meant to him, and how it gave him confidence to keep going.
27 rue de Fleurus
When Alice comes back, Gertrude tells her how impressed she is with Anderson. She has been writing for years but has few publications and little recognition. Sherwood praising her work means so much to her.
Gertrude and Alice hope that Sherwood will be Stein’s link to the publishing world in America.
This summer, everyone’s coming to Paris…
NB: The first meeting of Stein, Toklas and Anderson is where I mark in my research the beginning of the Americans in Paris salon.
We interrupt our usual chronicle of what was happening 100 years ago to commemorate “Dalloway Day.”
Not “Bloomsday” which celebrates June 16th as the day on which James Joyce set his novel Ulysses . But the third Wednesday in June which is the day on which Virginia Woolf set her novel Mrs. Dalloway . This year, they happen to be the same day.
Below is a blog I wrote about the Dalloway Day events in London that I attended in 2017. If you are interested in the celebrations being held this year, click here. I particularly recommend the panel this evening featuring my “such friends” Emily Midorikawa and Emma Clair Sweeney, talking about Woolf’s friendship with Katherine Mansfield.
As I recommend to all my visiting American friends, when in the UK, time your train trip so you can take along some lunch from M&S Simply Food, ubiquitous in train stations here. My preference is carrot sticks with reduced fat humous and salmon pasta salad. Yum.
So I stocked up and took off for London a few Saturdays ago to take part in my first “Dalloway Day,” commemorating the day on which Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway, is set. The Irish all over the world have been celebrating “Bloomsday” based on James Joyce’s Ulysses for over 50 years. Now it’s Virginia’s turn.
Original cover of Mrs. Dalloway, designed by Vanessa Bell
The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain is sponsoring this day, which includes a walk through some of the novel’s settings, a discussion of the book, and a 1920s party at the Bloomsbury Waterstones. I signed up for the whole package.
On one of the hottest days of the year, I took the train from Birmingham New Street to Euston station, and then the Underground to the appointed meeting place, outside the Regent’s Park Tube.
Waiting for the Underground lift, literally a breath of fresh air came wafting through. The woman next to me, about my age, said,
Oh! That feels great. It’s so hot.”
I nodded in agreement.
Watching her walk up the stairs in front of me, I realized she was wearing a blue flower print dress and lovely straw hat. Aha. Another Dalloway Day participant, I surmised.
As we reached the street at the top, we both laughed. Standing just a few feet away was a gaggle of Dalloway Day fans. About 20 women “of a certain age” in flowered dresses or skirts, straw hats—they all looked just like me! No trouble finding this group.
The walk was led by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, who obviously was a lot more familiar with the book and Virginia than I am, having read it years ago as part of my research. I actually have much more vivid memories of the Vanessa Redgrave film, which I’ve used in my presentations.
Jean was dressed in the full Dalloway, including a vintage dress and hat, complemented by darling low-heeled black shoes with straps. Very 1920s. She’d obviously done this many times before.
Jean pointed out that there is debate as to when Dalloway Day actually is. Whereas Joyce clearly set Ulysses on 16th June, 1904, the day of his first date with his eventual wife, Nora Barnacle, Woolf ‘s novel says “mid-June.” However, by lining up events in the book with cricket games and the Ascot races, most scholars have settled on the third Wednesday in June. But—this year, we are celebrating on Saturday, 17th June. So more of us can come.
The unusually warm weather—it’s actually been hot; Miami hot, not just England hot—didn’t slow us down a bit. After a stop in Regent’s Park, Jeanne walked us over to Fitzroy Square, where Virginia lived from 1907 until 1911 with her brother Adrian. Their sister Vanessa had married art critic Clive Bell and kicked the siblings out when the newlyweds took over the Gordon Square house, where we headed next.
My own Bloomsbury walkactually takes the reverse route, starting in Gordon Square and then over to Fitzroy Square.
Here’s me on one of my walks pointing out the house at #29 where Virginia and Adrian lived:
At Waterstone’s, we sat in a circle, sipping refreshing flavored ice water. Jean and Maggie Humm of the Woolf Society led us through an interesting discussion of the book. My research was on the relationships among the creative people in the Bloomsbury group, but wasn’t focused on their works—books, paintings, etc. This discussion brought new insights about the connections for me to incorporate into my future presentations.
And I learned that there is a website that maps all the walks of the characters in the book—Clarissa, Peter, Septimus and Rezia—showing how they interconnect.
For the 1920s party, I was planning to switch to Dorothy Parker mode, and so had tucked my red feather boa into my travel bag. But not many others were quite so dedicated to the flapper look, so I decided to stay in Bloomsbury garb.
This past week, I had another tax-deductible reason to go to London. Paula Maggio, better known to many of you as “Blogging Woolf”’ was visiting from the States to attend the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. We made plans to meet up and she wanted to try the Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel. We had a fabulous lunch of pasta and prosecco, treated ourselves to dessert, and took a peek at the 1920s-style Bloomsbury Club downstairs.
Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel, photo by Paula Maggio
Paula had also heard about a life-size statue of Virginia at Kings College, where Woolf had studied classics in her early days. A bit of Googling and walking led us to the Woolf Building. A sign said it was locked due to increased security, but when the guard saw our noses pressed against the glass, he let us in.
There she was, encased behind plexiglass, big as life, holding a copy of A Room of One’s Own, in a wardrobe that was, as Paula said, “a closet of her own.”
Surrounded by large quotes from Virginia’s works, and photos of her, it makes a fitting entrance for the College’s School of English.
Virginia Woolf statue, Kings College, photo by Paula Maggio
I would definitely add both of these places—Dalloway Terrace and the Kings College statue—to my Bloomsbury walk. Here’s a review of the restaurant by one of last year’s conference participants..
Heading back towards Euston station, Paula and I stopped by Woburn Walk, where the poet William Butler Yeats lived at the same time that Virginia and her siblings were moving into Gordon Square, just a few blocks away.
These intersections of time, place and characters are what interest me most. I can picture an aerial view of north London in 1907, as the Irish poet walks past the Stephens sisters, on their way over to enjoy a stroll through Regent’s Park.
Might make an interesting structure for a biography. Watch this space.
Harvard undergraduate Virgil Thomson, 24, is thrilled to be headed to Paris for the first time on the European tour of the Harvard Glee Club—the first such extensive tour by any American university choral group. He’s the accompanist, but also an understudy for the conductor, Dr. Archibald T. “Doc” Davison, 37, who has led the 63-year-old choir for the past two years.
But what Virgil is looking forward to most is staying on in Paris after the Glee Club goes back to America.
This tour came about because French history professor Bernard Fay, 28, who had been at Harvard, managed to get the French Foreign Office to issue an official invitation to the Club.
In addition to meeting their steamer when they dock at 2 am, Fay will be able to introduce Virgil to those in Paris who he needs to know, particularly French composers such as Darius Milhaud, 28, and Francis Poulenc, 22.
Thanks to a teaching fellowship, Virgil will be staying on in Paris for a full year to study composition with renowned composer and teacher Nadia Boulanger, 33. What an opportunity. He’ll be staying with a French family at first, but then hopes to find his own flat near Boulanger’s studio on the Right Bank.
Artist Marcel Duchamp, 33, on the other hand, is heading for home.
Marcel has been living in and around New York City for the past six years. After his painting Nude Descending a Staircase was such a big hit at the 1913 Armory Show, he was able to finance a trip to the States and leverage his newfound fame to acquire artist friends and valuable patrons, Walter, 43, and Louise Arensberg, 42. As owners of the building where he has a studio, the Arensbergs agreed to take one of Duchamp’s major paintings, The Large Glass, in lieu of rent.
Duchamp’s English wasn’t good at first, but supporting himself by giving French lessons helped to improve it quickly.
Marcel feels it’s time to go back home to Paris. Even just for a few months.
The Large Glass by Marcel Duchamp
After a stop in London, the Fitzgeralds are now in Paris.
In England, Scott, 24, wasn’t particularly impressed with his fellow Scribner’s novelist John Galsworthy, 53, whom he met at his home in Hampstead.
Scott and his wife Zelda aren’t really impressed with Paris either. The managers of the Hotel Saint-James-et-d’Albany where they are staying complain when Zelda blocks the elevator door on their floor so it will be available for her.
The real problem with this trip, though, is that Zelda is sick all the time. And pregnant.
American novelist Sherwood Anderson, 44, and his wife, Tennessee, 47, on the other hand, are having a ball on their first trip to Paris. They’ve seen a terrific exhibit of work by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, 39. Visited Chartres. Met American ex-patriate poet Ezra Pound, 35. They were more impressed by the Chartres cathedral than they were by Pound.
What Sherwood is really looking forward to, however, is using the letter of introduction he just received from the American owner of Shakespeare & Co., Sylvia Beach, 34, to meet her friend and fellow American, writer Gertrude Stein, 47. He has read some of Stein’s pieces in the “little mags” that he’s found back in Chicago and has learned so much from her radical style.
In exchange, Sherwood is helping Sylvia send out prospectuses to all the Americans he can think of, soliciting subscriptions for her upcoming publication of Ulysses, the scandalous novel by the Irish ex-patriate, James Joyce, 39.
Prospectus for Ulysses
Recent Yale graduate Thornton Wilder, 24, and his sister, Isabel, 21, both writers, have been in Paris since the beginning of the month. During his recent eight-month residency at the American Academy in Rome, where he studied archaeology and Italian, Thornton started on his first novel, The Cabala.
Now that they are in Paris, Thornton and Isabel are signed up as members of Shakespeare & Co.’s lending library and they have made friends with Sylvia, thanks to a letter of introduction he carried from his friend, poet Stephen Vincent Benet, 22.
Sylvia has offered to introduce Thornton to Joyce, whom he has seen in her shop.
Thornton refused. Joyce always looks as though he doesn’t want to be interrupted.
Right now, Thornton’s biggest concern is finding a new place to live. The Hotel du Maroc, where they have been since they arrived, is crawling with bedbugs.
English ex-patriate writer David Herbert Lawrence, 35, on his 20-minute walk from his hilltop house in to town, realizes that today is the day his novel Women in Love is being published in the United Kingdom. What a long and circuitous journey.
Lawrence had conceived of this novel during the Great War. But then had written and published six years ago what he thought of as part one, The Rainbow, in both the US and the UK.
Well, of course, the Brits had gone ballistic and banned it under the Obscene Publications Act of 1857. 1857. Did they realize it is now the 20th century?!
Angry, Lawrence sat down and wrote Women in Love as a response, telling his literary agent,
You will hate it and no one will publish it. But there, these things are beyond us.”
Actually, his American publisher, Thomas Seltzer, 46, was willing to take a chance and published it last November. But only in a US private edition costing $15 each. Bit of a narrow audience. Lawrence argued that he didn’t want it to be released that way, but eventually gave in. The title page doesn’t even include the publisher’s name. Just “Private Printing for Subscribers Only.”
Seltzer has told Lawrence that his books are selling quite well in the States, even in a bad year for publishing in general. However, after the uproar over The Rainbow in the UK, Seltzer doesn’t want to take any chances bringing out Women in Love over there.
So Martin Secker, 39, has shouldered the burden with his publishing company. Fear of the censors has led Secker to make a few discreet edits. But Women in Love is scheduled to be unleashed on the public today.
Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, 41, have been in self-imposed exile from England for the past four years. Because Frieda is German, their English neighbors had suspected them to be spies. Ridiculous. And also, he writes dirty books.
D. H. and Frieda Lawrence
The couple have been traveling throughout Europe, mostly Germany—which seemed to Lawrence to be “so empty…as if uninhabited…life empty: no young men”—and Italy. Last year they settled in this Sicilian town. At the beginning of this month, visiting Frieda’s family in Germany, he finished Aaron’s Rod, his third novel in the series about his home country, the English midlands. Seltzer feels that right now Lawrence has too many books out in the US market, so he is going to hold publication of Aaron’s Rod until next year.
David and Frieda are getting antsy. In Italy, he has been writing very little. He is hopeful that excerpts from his travelogue Sea and Sardinia will appear in the American Dial magazine later this year.
Their passports will need to be renewed soon. Lawrence feels it is time to move on to the next adventure.
U. S. President Warren G. Harding, 55, just three months in office, spent the past weekend at the White House concerned about what message he needs to send. He decided to accept the invitation to give the commencement address at Lincoln University this Monday.
So before sunrise, he and his wife Florence, 60, drove about 45 miles from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where they had stayed overnight with a friend, to this campus, outside of Oxford, Pennsylvania, the first all-Black degree-granting institution in the country.
The four cars carrying his entourage stop first at the granite arch on campus, where he helps to dedicate the memorial to Lincoln alumni who fought and died in the Great War.
President Harding at Lincoln University
The faculty and students of the “Black Princeton,” as the school is known, are immensely proud to have a sitting president of the United States deliver their commencement address. They feel it is the high point of their 67-year history.
Speaking without notes, Harding addresses the students as “my fellow countrymen” and stresses the importance of education in solving racial problems. But he cautions that government alone cannot “take a race from bondage to citizenship in half a century.”
Then he turns his remarks to the most pressing issue in the country: the massacre of at least 39 citizens in the all-Black neighborhood—called “The Black Wall Street”—in Tulsa, Oklahoma, just five days ago. Offering a prayer for the city, Harding says,
Despite the demagogues, the idea of our oneness as Americans has risen superior to every appeal to mere class and group. And so, I wish it might be in this matter of our national problem of races…God grant that, in the soberness, the fairness, and the justice of this country, we never see another spectacle like it.”
When he is finished, the President congratulates and shakes the hand of each individual graduate.
The damage to the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma
Shuffle Along, the first Broadway production in over a decade that has all African-Americans as producers, writers, and actors, is doing such bang up business in its first week that there are traffic jams each night before the curtain goes up.
With music and lyrics by Noble Sissle, 31, and Eubie Blake, 34, the revue is based on their vaudeville act, and they even wear their vaudeville tuxedos when they perform at the end of the second act.
Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake
As producers, Blake and Sissle had no trouble finding talent for Shuffle Along. The cast is terrific. In the auditions they found one 15-year-old who was fabulous but still too young for Broadway. They told Josephine Baker to come back next year when she turns 16.
The most amazing aspect, however, is that so many people—white and Black—are willing to find their way up here to see an all-Black musical. Blake and Sissle were glad to finally secure a theatre, but it’s not a great location. This music hall is surrounded by garages and auto parts stores and so small it doesn’t even have a proper orchestra pit. Blake says,
It isn’t Broadway, but we made it Broadway.”
Shuffle Along is a hit. Audiences are humming “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” sung by the star—and Eubie’s girlfriend—Lottie Gee, 34, as they walk out of the theatre. Sissle was nervous about how the opening night crowd would accept the tender love scene between the two Black leads, featuring the song “Love Will Find a Way.” He and Blake watched from near the exit door, ready to flee. But the audience called for an encore!
Sheet music for I’m Just Wild About Harry
To hear Eubie Blake and his Shuffle Along orchestra, click here.
To hear a piece from National Public Radio [NPR] about the centenary of the opening of Shuffle Along, click here.