“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, December, 1921, Richmond, London; Lausanne, Switzerland; and Taormina, Sicily

At the beginning of the month, the London Times reports that, because of an increase in

winter sickness…persons with weak hearts or chests must avoid rapid changes of temperature, which severely tax the circulation and which lower bodily resistance to infection.”

The UK is on track for more than 36,000 deaths from influenza this year, mostly women.


In Richmond, southwest London, Virginia Woolf, 39, hangs up the phone after talking to the editor of the Times Literary Supplement. He wants her to change the word “lewd” in her review of Henry James’ collection of short stories to “obscene.” She says, fine.

She thinks, now that she has enough income from the Hogarth Press to spend her time writing novels, in the new year she won’t have to compromise and write reviews anymore.

Virginia has been relatively healthy these past few months, but now she’s feeling a bit of a cold and tiredness coming on.



In Lausanne, Switzerland, T. S. Eliot, 33, recuperating from a nervous breakdown, has to tell his editor at The Dial, Scofield Thayer, just turned 32, that there will be a delay in his next “London Letter” for the magazine. There’s no way it will appear until at least April, meaning a seven-month gap in columns.

Eliot blames it on a bad bout of the flu. He is using any energy he has right now to work on his long poem.

Lausanne, Switzerland


In Taormino, Sicily, English ex-pat David Herbert Lawrence, 36, has sent off to his New York and London agents packets of revised short stories.

Now he’s heading back to bed with an irritating case of the flu which won’t go away.

Lawrence is, however, actually looking forward to spending Christmas sick in bed.

I hate Christmas,”

he writes to a friend.

Taormino, Sicily

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and in print and e-book formats on Amazon. If they can’t get it to you in time for gift giving, I can. Email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early in the new year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

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

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

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