“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, mid-August, 1921, Virginia Hotel, 78 Rush Street, Chicago, Illinois

Hadley Richardson, 29, visiting from St. Louis, feels that last night, at this posh hotel, for the first time, she “really got to know” her fiancé, free-lance journalist Ernest Hemingway, 22.

Virginia Hotel, Chicago, Illinois

Hadley and Ernest had only seen each other twice before they got engaged this spring. But they write lots of letters to each other. And her Ernesto writes great letters.

When she came to Chicago earlier this year to meet his parents, Hadley had to bring a chaperone. Now that they are engaged, she has booked herself into the Virginia Hotel.

Hadley’s sister, and quite a few of Ernest’s friends, don’t think this marriage is a good idea. But Hadley does. She has her own inheritance so doesn’t have to depend on her family’s good wishes.

Earlier this summer, she was trying to get Hemingway to tell her exactly how old he is and what exactly he did during the Great War. Hadley was putting together an announcement for their engagement party and told him to come up with

a magnificent lie about your age in case anyone is curious enough to inquire—also tell me what events I can brag of without being a perfect fool about you.”

Ernie says that he served in the Italian Army, and she is guessing that he turned at least 23 in July, when she gave him a typewriter for his birthday.

Ernest’s day job involves editing a house organ, but he is trying to sell enough of his free-lance work to support himself without that income. Earlier this year he had a piece published about the Dempsey-Carpentier fight, building on his knowledge of boxing, but his poetry is continually rejected. He has stopped sending poems to Poetry magazine, hoping he will fare better with The Dial. They often publish poems by his friend and mentor, successful novelist Sherwood Anderson, 44. But—no luck.

Despite Ernest’s evasiveness, and although he didn’t come to visit her in St. Louis as he promised last New Year’s Eve, Hadley is confident in his talent and is convinced that they are right for each other.

They were introduced at a party last fall by Ernest’s friend, advertising copywriter Y. Kenley Smith, 33, and Hadley’s friend, Smith’s sister Kate, 29. But Ernie hasn’t been getting on so well with Kenley these days. He and Hadley have decided that they are not going to move in with Smith and his wife after their wedding in a few weeks. And Kenley has been disinvited from the reception to be held at the Hemingway home in nearby Oak Park.

Hemingway family home, Oak Park, Illinois

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

This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

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

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