By Kathleen Dixon Donnelly
In the early years of the 20th century, it was common for writers and artists on both sides of the Atlantic to gather in living rooms, drawing rooms, pubs and cafes to discuss the latest happenings in the arts, read to each other from their latest works, and gossip.
On either side of World War I, in the English-speaking Western world, there were four groups—the Irish Literary Renaissance, the Bloomsbury Group, the Americans in Paris, and the Algonquin Round Table—with remarkably similar salons. To see lists of all the members of each group, just hover over the ‘categories’ to the right.
They worked on projects—the Abbey Theater for the Irish, the Omega Workshops for some of the Bloomsberries—but mostly they just ‘hung out.’ They had places in the city and places in the country that they decorated and made their own.
The burst of creativity that became modernism was brought about by men and women of extraordinary talent and very ordinary pursuits. They ate, they drank, they neglected their families. They praised and berated each other privately and publicly; they bickered endlessly. They complained about money and few of them had “day jobs.” And they talked. And talked.
All the pages and postings on this site are based on my research for my Ph. D. in Communications from Dublin City University about these writers and artists. If you click on any of the pages below, you will find short pieces, timelines and lots of information about the writers, artists and their friends.
I am currently working on a book, ‘Such Friends’: A Scrapbook Almanac of Writers’ Salons, 1897-1930, and would love to have your feedback on the site and the writings. Leave a comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello Kathleen, I’ve only recently found your blog and am really enjoying it. I’m especially looking forward to finding out about Dorothy Parker as this is the area I know practically nothing (ok, nothing) about! I’ve written a very short review of vol.1 on my blog, which I see you’ve seen, but meant to ask you if that was ok before I posted it, but forgot. I didn’t put an author picture as I wanted your permission first. . .
My blog is very amateur, I hope you don’t mind me talking about your book but it’s a period I absolutely love and look forward to reading the next voumes!
Are you kidding?! I’m thrilled. Your email address appears in the last posting. Would it be okay if I emailed you?!
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Thank you so much for your endorsement! I’d love to know how you found me. Any feedback greatly appreciated. email@example.com…
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Wonderful subject! I’m writing an essay on Gertrude and Leo Stein’s art collection and came across your page. Amazing work! 🙂
Thank you! I might be doing a session on them in my Osher Lifelong Learning class on supporters of the arts. I’d love to see your essay…
Just found the site after reading Shakespeare and Company and doing a web search. Reminds me of a work I very much admired, Christine Stansell’s American Moderns (2000). Please carry on.
Thank you so much. Please follow. Have a got a new one coming up soon. I get few comments. Don’t know American Moderns, but there was a film about Stein’s salon called ‘The Moderns,’ which I HATED. ‘Hemingway! The sun also sets you know! Ha ha ha.’ Horrible…
Well, I suppose many of the writers on the left bank felt they were all living in the sunset. Hemingway though probably agreed that all the other writers were living in the sunset.
True. He sort of always knew he was the best one. But was he?!
Was Hemingway correct? Hard to assess for me. Sherwood Anderson, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are candidates for leaders of the pack. Stein might have included Thornton Wilder. Some would include James Joyce but I didn’t enjoy his language experimentation. I would include Hemingway but would never have invited him to the house. His terse prose seems powerful and enthralling. like a telegrapher’s account of a news story. Yet the lack of interior monologue makes his characters a challenge to understand. Don’t know that I would want to have to select a best but I would disagree about Sun Also Rises.
Certainly agree about not inviting him to the house!
Wow, I have always been curious about these groups of writers and artists, but didn’t quite know where to begin to learn about their comradeship. I look forward to exploring your blog and your eventual book on the topic.
Such Friends. What a wonderful project.. can’t wait for it to develop some more.
p.s remember to get some wider columns!