“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, Spring, 1923, Mt. Airy Road, Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Lying in her sickbed, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 31, knows she is luckier than she has ever been.

Millay spent the last two years in Paris and rural England, supporting herself with free-lance writing assignments. She thought that, when she came back to New York City at the beginning of the year, her stomach problems would go away once she stopped eating all that rich French food.

But her internal ailments are sometimes worse, and her friends all agree that she looks like hell.

Since her return, Millay has been living at 156 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village in an apartment owned by a wealthy woman she met in England, Esther Sayles Root, 28, who lives upstairs and has been taking care of Millay. Root has also been taking care of Millay’s friend, top Manhattan columnist Franklin Pierce Adams (FPA), 41, who taunts his wife by mentioning his affairs—including Esther—in his column frequently.

156 Waverly Place

Recently, Esther convinced Edna to come up here for a country weekend, with some of their artsy friends from the Village.

Esther Sayles Root

Playing charades during a party one night, Millay was teamed up with one of the neighbors, rich Dutch businessman—and attractive widower—Eugen Boissevain, 43. The two were supposed to act out a young couple falling in love. Everyone in the room could tell that neither of them was acting.

Eugen Boissevain

At the end of the weekend, Esther went back to the Village and Edna moved in here with Eugen, his chauffeured car and house servants.

Boissevain is taking such good care of Millay. He personally drives her into the city when she has a doctor’s appointment, and has his servants wait on her here at home.

Overall, despite her persistent stomach pain, Millay feels that she is on the verge of something bigger and better.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA. They are also on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.ukin 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.


6 thoughts on ““Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, Spring, 1923, Mt. Airy Road, Croton-on-Hudson, New York

  1. I don’t know about boldness but this was especially interesting for me because all these people are new – I’ve bought a collection of Millay poetry and hope to get to know her better – thanks!

  2. Why isn’t Edna bolded? She’s the story line😃

    James L. Spates, Ph.D
    Distinguished Professor of Sociology Emeritus
    Hobart and William Smith Colleges

    Honorary Arthur Dove Chair
    The Dove Block Project

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    “In the short time you have, be kind, and do all the sure good you can.”

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