“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, March 27 and 28, 1920, New York City, New York; Hollywood, California; and Montgomery, Alabama

Harold Ross, 27, who has made a name for himself around the publishing world by being the successful editor of the U. S. Army’s newspaper, The Stars & Stripes, in Paris during the Great War, is doing quite well now that he is state-side. Ross has just signed a contract to become editor of the American Legion Weekly, the house organ for veterans adjusting to their new lives back in the States.

The contract is his wedding present to Jane Grant, also 27, who he is secretly eloping with later today.

Ross and Grant met in Paris during the war, when she was there with the American Red Cross, entertaining soldiers.

Grant and Ross

Jane Grant and Harold Ross

They had discussed marriage a few times, and this week she said to him,

How about Saturday?”

So he agreed.

They plan to live on Grant’s salary as the first full-time female reporter for the New York Times, and save Ross’ earnings to start the magazine about New York they are planning.

*****

The next day, the rest of the country is thrilled with a different wedding. “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, 27, is marrying her co-star, “Everybody’s Hero,” Douglas Fairbanks, 36. The worst kept secret in the movie business is that their affair began while they were each married to others. But America is willing to forgive their beloved “Hollywood Royalty.” The Fairbanks are off to Europe for their honeymoon.

Douglas_Fairbanks_and_Mary_Pickford_02

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks

*****

Down south in Montgomery, Alabama, Zelda Sayre, 19, is planning for her wedding. The handsome young soldier she met during the war when he was stationed nearby at Camp Sheridan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, now living in New York City, has been wooing her with love letters and presents:  An ostrich fan. His mother’s ring. A diamond and platinum watch. They were nice. But what really did the trick is when he signed a contract with Charles Scribner’s Sons to publish his first novel, This Side of Paradise. And Metro Studios bought the rights to one of his short stories for $2,500.

That’s when Zelda had said yes.

The novel was published this week and she’s getting ready for the wedding in early April.

fitzgerald-zelda1

Zelda Sayre and F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning program.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, before March 26, 1920, midtown Manhattan

The excitement is palpable.

Employees at publishing house Charles Scribner’s Sons are finally getting pumped up about the debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, the hot new discovery of Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins, 35.

Max’s enthusiasm for This Side of Paradise had not initially been shared by his co-workers. After all, this Fitzgerald was the youngest novelist Scribner’s had ever published.

When one of the men in the sales department had any doubts about a new book, he would take it home for his well-educated sister to read. She had proved to be a good predictor of success. So his fellow employees were all eager to know what she had thought of Paradise. He reported,

She picked it up with tongs because she wouldn’t touch it with her hands after reading it, and put it into the fire.”

This_Side_of_Paradise_dust_jacket

Original cover of This Side of Paradise

Perkins was so worried about negative reactions within the house, that he tried to keep the manuscript mostly in his own hands. As a former Scribner’s advertising director, he had approved the upcoming New York Times ad:

Paradise NY Times ad

New York Times ad, to run April 4, 1920

Perkins didn’t even want the staff proofreaders to have a crack at the novel. As a result, the printed version will be riddled with typos. Even more embarrassing to Perkins is that Fitzgerald—a terrible speller himself—is pointing out mistakes to him.

As publication day approaches, Perkins wonders if he has done the right thing by fighting to have tradition-encrusted Scribner’s take on this new writing.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

In 2020 I will be talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning program.

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

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, March 16, 1920, 8 rue de Dupuytren, Paris

Sylvia Beach, just turned 33, is curious about the couple she sees walking towards her bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., on the Left Bank.

On the left is a stout, tall woman, about 200 pounds, in rustic clothes, her head styled with a double bun that resembles a basket. Next to her is a smaller woman, dark-haired, thin, like a bird, with drooping eyes, a hooked nose, and the trace of a mustache, in gypsy-like clothes.

As they get closer, Sylvia recognizes them as American writer Gertrude Stein, 46, and her constant companion, Alice B. Toklas, 42.

Gert and Alice dressed for travel

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

Sylvia is familiar with Stein’s works, Tender Buttons and Three Lives. And of course she has heard talk of the salons the two women have held at their home, 27 rue de Fleurus, on the other side of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Before the Great War, the local painters would come. Now, the Left Bank community is still reorganizing after the Armistice, and Sylvia has been so busy opening her shop, she hasn’t yet sought out her fellow Americans.

So here comes Stein for her inaugural visit to Shakespeare & Co. to sign up as a subscriber—not the first. The 91st.

During their chat, Beach mentions that she would welcome more American and British customers. Stein promises that she will help by sending out a flyer to all their friends.

A few days later, Sylvia sees the promotion which Stein has written and Toklas has typed up and mailed out:

Rich and Poor in English

The poor are remarkably represented…

In dealing with money we can be funny…”

With the cost for book rentals listed on the back.

Beach feels that Stein’s subscription is

merely a friendly gesture. She took little interest of course in any but her own books.”

But, like many of Shakespeare & Co.’s visitors over the years, Gertrude and Alice really like the atmosphere in the store.

SylviaBeach1920 rue de depuytren

Sylvia Beach at Shakespeare & Co.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about writers salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning program.

Manager as Muse, about Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle 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.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, February, 1920, Montgomery, Alabama

Well. That was a scare.

Zelda Sayre, 19, had been late.

Not late to the dance. Late.

Her current boyfriend, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, was back in New York City, finishing off his first novel to be published by Charles Scribner’s & Sons next month, and sending his short stories to magazines. Scott and Zelda were engaged. And then un-engaged.

He is still showering her with lots of presents.

zelda_aged_18 dancing

Zelda Sayre, dancing

When Zelda had written to tell him that she was late, Scott had sent her some pills to get rid of the unwanted baby.

Zelda threw them away. Only prostitutes have abortions. Not socially prominent daughters of Southern judges.

She wrote back to Scott—or “Goofo” as she calls him—to say that

God—or something”

would fix everything.

Must have been God.

She isn’t late anymore.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle 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.

 

 

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, First Week of February, 1920, 8 rue Dupuytren, Paris

After two and a half months of running her own bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., on the Left Bank of Paris, American Sylvia Beach, 32, daughter of a Princeton, New Jersey, Presbyterian minister, is having a ball.

Sylvia Beach 1919

Sylvia Beach

She is writing to her sister Holly, 35, back in the States, about her new best friend forever, Adrienne Monnier, 27, owner of the bookstore, La Maison des Amis des Livres (The House of the Friends of Books), a few blocks away. Adrienne and other Parisians were so helpful to Sylvia last fall in sorting out the details of starting a business in France. Adrienne and she had had

a sort of set-to or climax effect one day,”

she writes to Holly. Mostly about the design of the new bookshop. But now they have made up and

become the best of friends…Adrienne is the best friend in the world and we get along puffickly [sic] now.”

Monnier in front of bookstore

Adrienne Monnier in front of her bookstore

Beach loves the independence of having her own successful business—her lending library is up to 80 subscribers now—as well as getting to know the American and British ex-patriates who feel comfortable hanging out at her shop.

But the best part is being in the center of the creative life of the Left Bank. The two friends have been going to concerts and plays all over town. They’ve had fascinating lunch guests such as Parisian playwright Georges Duhamel, 35, and composer Erik Satie, 53. His works are so funny.

Satie in 1920

Erik Satie

Satie mentioned that he is working on a project now with fellow French composer Darius Milhaud, 21, for a big performance being staged by poet Jean Cocteau, 30, later this month. But Satie is so secretive about all his work. Even when collaborating with Milhaud, he sent him a note saying,

Don’t give anything away. Not a word to ANYBODY, above all:  Don’t give anything away. SERIOUS.”

Sylvia, Adrienne, and some of their French friends—she is the only “foreigner” in the group—are planning to see Duhamel’s hit play, L’Oeuvre des athletes (The Action of Athletes), at Jacques Copeau’s Theatre du Vieux-Colombier,

Beach suspects she is being included, not just because of her friendship with Monnier, but because the French like to ask her questions about one of her favorite American writers, Walt Whitman.

Sylvia writes to her sister,

I am so lucky to be able to do something interesting [for] the rest of my life.”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle 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.

 

 

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, January 10, 1920, in New Orleans, LA

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, is eagerly anticipating receiving the galleys for his first novel, This Side of Paradise, so he can correct them during his self-imposed writing retreat here in New Orleans. He is writing to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, 35, at Charles Scribner’s Sons in Manhattan, about his next novel:

I want to start it, but I don’t want to get broke in the middle and…have to write short stories again—because I don’t enjoy [writing stories] and just do it for money…There’s nothing in collections of short stories is there?”

perkins in suit

Max Perkins

A week later, Perkins writes back confirming Fitzgerald’s suspicions, but offering some encouragement:

It seems to me that [your stories] have the popular note which would be likely to make them sell in book form. I wish you did care more about writing them…because they have great value in making you a reputation and because they are quite worthwhile in themselves…Still we should not like to interfere with your novels…”

Perkins believes it’s a good idea to follow an author’s novel with a short story collection, increasing sales of both.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about Max Perkins and his relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’sOsher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle 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.

 

“Such Friends” 100 years ago, January 1, 1920…

 

America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

That was 100 years ago. So here we are again. At the beginning of the Twenties. Will this be a similar decade?!

There’s one way to tell:  To look back at certain points and document what was happening a century before, with the artists and writers who were “Such Friends”:

William Butler Yeats and the Irish Literary Renaissance,

Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group,

Gertrude Stein and the Americans in Paris, and

Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table,

in Ireland, England, France and America.

As the new decade begins…

Irish poet W B Yeats, 54, is getting ready to go back to the United States on his third American lecture tour, this time with his wife, Georgie Hyde-Lees, 28. They are leaving the baby Anne, just 11 months old, back in Ireland with his sisters.

Yeats and Geo 1923

Georgie and William Butler Yeats

Hogarth Press owners, novelist Virginia Woolf, about to turn 38, and her husband Leonard, 39, have been celebrating the holidays at Monk’s House in Sussex, which they bought last year at auction. This coming year, they want to spend more time outside of too-busy London.

Va and Leon

Virginia and Leonard Woolf

In Paris, American writer Gertrude Stein, 45, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 42, are still getting back to normal after the Armistice. Their apartment, on the Left Bank near the Luxembourg Gardens, had hosted salons for all the local painters before the Great War. Who will come now?

Gert and Alice with the paintings

Alice B. Toklas and her partner Gertrude Stein with Picassos

Vanity Fair writers Dorothy Parker, 26, Robert Benchley, 30, and their “such friends” are lunching regularly at the Algonquin Hotel in midtown Manhattan. And trying to drink up in the last few weeks before the Volstead Act—Prohibition—goes into effect. It won’t slow them down.

parkerbenchley cartoon

Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley

Join me on a journey through the “Literary 1920s,” tracking these characters in their place and time, 100 years ago. Happy New Year!

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In 2020 I will be talking about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle 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.

 

‘Such Friends’: 1921, Summer, Left Bank, Paris

In the past few weeks I have been posting vignettes about how each of the four writers’ salons came together. This is the beginning of Gertrude Stein and the Americans in Paris:

‘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,’

read the note that Sylvia Beach, 34. owner of the Left Bank bookshop Shakespeare & Co., sent to Gertrude Stein, 47, about their fellow American, novelist Sherwood Anderson, 44. Gertrude and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, also 44, instantly decided that they would love to meet him.

Beach had found Anderson looking in the display window of her shop, and invited him in.  He had left his advertising job after having success with Winesburg, Ohio, his collection of stories focused on the residents of one town. Anderson had read some of Stein’s work in American publications and was impressed by her radical approach to writing.

27 rue de fleurus

27 rue de Fleurus

Anderson and his wife Tennessee, 47, arrived at 27 rue de Fleurus, anticipating being in the presence of greatness.  As Toklas remembered later in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein:

‘For some reason or other I was not present on this occasion, some domestic complication in all probability, at any rate when I did come home Gertrude Stein was moved and pleased as she has very rarely been. Gertrude Stein was in those days a little bitter, all her unpublished manuscripts, and no hope of publication or serious recognition. Sherwood Anderson came and quite simply and directly as is his way told her what he thought of her work and what it had meant to him in his development. He told it to her then and what was even rarer he told it in print immediately after. Gertrude Stein and Sherwood Anderson have always been the best of friends but I do not believe even he realizes how much his visit meant to her.’

When the Andersons went back to America, they told others of the wonders of postwar Paris. They sent a young reporter, Ernest Hemingway, 22, and his new wife Hadley, 29, to Stein. A few years later, Hemingway brought successful novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, and his wife Zelda, 21, to Stein. And so the influx of American writers and their wives to 27 rue de Fleurus began:

‘The geniuses came and talked to Gertrude Stein and the wives sat with me. How they unroll, an endless vista thru the years…Hadley and Pauline Hemingway and Mrs. Sherwood Anderson, and Mrs. Bravig Imbs and the Mrs. Ford Maddox Ford and endless others, geniuses, near geniuses and might be geniuses, all having wives, and I have sat and talked with them all all the wives…’

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

This fall, I will be teaching a class in the first semester of the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute [OLLI], ‘Such Friends’:  The Literary 1920s in Dublin, London, Paris and New York.

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

To read about American writers, Manager as Muse explores Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ work with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe and is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

‘Such Friends’:  Review of A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Bronte, Eliot and Woolf by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

As soon as I brought my signed copy of A Secret Sisterhood home, I did exactly what you would expect—read the last chapter, about the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, of course.

When I was researching the ‘such friends’ of early 20th century writers’ salons, I had to draw lines somewhere. A lot of really interesting characters just outside the groups, like Mansfield, had to be left behind. Now I had a great chance to build on what I already knew about Virginia.

With excellent primary research, Midorikawa and Sweeney do a great job of dispelling the myth that ‘there could only have been room for one woman at the top. And so Katherine Mansfield was branded Virginia’s enemy.’

It was interesting to discover that Mansfield had her own version of Gertrude Stein’s Alice B. Toklas:  the ever-loyal Ida Constance Baker who stuck by her ‘Star.’ Unlike Toklas, who learned about their paintings by dusting them, Ida was a terrible housekeeper.

Blue plaque at Hogarth House and me

In front of Hogarth House in Richmond, where Virginia and Leonard hosted Katherine Mansfield

Now that I have been writing and editing for the authors’ blog, Something Rhymed, I decided it was time to go back and read about the other literary friendships they chronicled:  Jane Austen and her niece’s governess, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; Charlotte Bronte and the amazing Mary Taylor, the early feminist author who taught piano to young, single German men; and George Eliot and the American author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe.

They did not disappoint.

Midorikawa and Sweeney justify their exploration of these four pairs by pointing out that there has been plenty written about male literary friendships, including by me in this blog—the poets W B Yeats and George ‘AE’ Russell of the Irish Literary Renaissance, playwrights Marc Connelly and George S Kaufman of the Algonquin Round Table, and, of course, the ubiquitous novelists Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald of the Americans in Paris.

The authors contrast the Hemingway-Fitzgerald pairing mostly being characterized as ‘combative friends,’ but Woolf and Mansfield are identified as ‘bitter foes.’

I’m a big fan of primary research, and this book shows how it pays off. The descriptions of the homes and hangouts of the writers, particularly Austen’s brother’s Godmersham Park, ring true, reflecting the first-hand experience of the writers.

Godmersham Park

Aerial view of Godmersham Park

They also made a point of investigating all available correspondence between friends and family, ‘reading between the lines’ of handwritten letters to build a more accurate picture of the relationships, rather than falling back on the ‘bitter foes’ theory often ascribed to women writers.

You can feel their excitement when they describe finding important notes tucked away in a diary and pointing out nuggets that later show up in the writers’ novels.

Midorikawa and Sweeney also do what I always try to do—stick to the facts. Phrases such as ‘It seems possible that…,’ and ‘It’s tempting to imagine…’ are much preferable to invented conversation or blatant assumptions presented as real. Words such as ‘if,’ ‘may,’ ‘would’ allow the reader to draw their own conclusions.

They also face the same problem that I have had—too many characters! Sometimes the extended family relationships distract from the focus on a specific friendship. It’s hard enough keeping track of my husband’s relatives, let alone Eliot’s.

The excellent background and social history in each section is reminiscent of Who Do You Think You Are? with its abandoned single mothers and children relegated to the workhouse. And cliff-hangers at the end of chapters make the reader eager to find out what happens next.

A Secret Sisterhood leaves you wanting more—so buy it, read it, and then sign up to follow the blog, Something Rhymed!

Secret Sisterhood BF AW 2.indd

To walk with me and the ‘Such Friends’ through Bloomsbury, download the Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group audio walking tour from VoiceMap.

To read about American writers, Manager as Muse explores Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ work with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe and is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

 

 

‘Such Friends’: May, 1925

In England…

Virginia Woolf, 43, is anticipating the reviews for her fourth novel, Mrs. Dalloway, which she and her husband Leonard, 44, have just published at their own Hogarth Press, with another cover by her sister, Vanessa Bell, 45.

mrs dalloway original cover

She has been working on it for the past three years, building on short stories she had written, and experimenting with stream of consciousness. The beginning of this year was spent on the rewriting, which, she had confided to her diary, was

‘the dullest part…most depressing & exacting.’

Leonard is enthusiastic. He feels it is Virginia’s best work. But he has to think that, doesn’t he?

Last month, the Woolfs had brought out a collection of her critical essays, The Common Reader, also with a Vanessa cover. Virginia had worried that it would receive

‘a dull chill depressing reception [and be] a complete failure.’

Actually, there have been good reviews in the Manchester Guardian and the Observer newspapers, and sales are beginning to pick up a bit.

The-Common-Reader- cover 1st ed

The ten-year-old Hogarth Press is doing quite well, having survived a succession of different assistants. They had published 16 titles the previous year and are on schedule for more this year. In addition to writing their most successful works, Virginia has been closely involved with the choice of manuscripts among those submitted by eager novelists and poets, as well as setting the type. She finds it calming.

Despite the stress of a new publication, physically Virginia is feeling quite well. She and Leonard have been busy in London with Hogarth, but also getting out and about with family and friends. Fellow writer Lytton Strachey, 45, had praised The Common Reader, but thinks that Mrs. Dalloway is just

‘a satire of a shallow woman.’

Virginia noted in her diary,

‘It’s odd that when…the others (several of them) say it is a masterpiece, I am not much exalted; when Lytton picks holes, I get back into my working fighting mood.’

Virginia’s literary competition with Lytton—he has always outsold her—is motivating her to get to work on her next major novel. She’s thinking of writing about her childhood, and the summers the family spent on the Cornish coast.

In France…

Ernest Hemingway, 25, is regretting having snapped up the offer from the first publisher he’d heard from, Boni & Liveright. He’d been so thrilled to get their letter when he was skiing in Austria that he’d accepted the next day. His first collection of stories and poems, in our time, had been published last year by Three Mountains Press, a small company operating on Paris’ Left Bank. But Boni & Liveright was a major American publisher who wanted to bring it out as In Our Time and have first shot at his next work.

In_our_time_Paris_edition_1924

When he’d returned with his wife, Hadley, 33, to their Paris apartment there were wonderful letters waiting for him from Maxwell Perkins, 40, senior editor at rival publisher Scribner’s.

In addition, Ernest has just met one of Scribner’s top authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 28, who had recommended him to Perkins as long as a year ago. Fitzgerald was happy to share with Hemingway his inside info about the world of New York publishing, telling him that Scribner’s would be a much better choice than Boni & Liveright.

However, that first meeting with Fitzgerald in the Le Dingo bar hadn’t impressed Ernest much. Scott had been wearing Brooks Brothers and drinking champagne, but he kept praising the poems and stories of Hemingway’s that he had read, to the point where it was embarrassing. Then he asked Ernest whether he had slept with Hadley before they got married, turned white, and passed out. Ernest and his friends had rolled Scott into a taxi.

But on their second meeting, at Closerie des Lilas, Fitzgerald was fine. Intelligent. Witty. Interested in the Hemingways’ living conditions—in a rundown apartment without water or electricity above a sawmill on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. Ernest decides it might be alright to take his new friend to the salon he frequents at the home of another American writer, Gertrude Stein, 51, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 48, on rue de Fleurus, near the Luxembourg Gardens. Gertrude hates drunks.

Scott had asked Ernest to come along on a trip to Lyon to recover a Renault he had had to leave at a garage there, and Hemingway is thinking of going. After all, Fitzgerald says he’ll cover all the expenses.

His latest novel, The Great Gatsby, published by Scribner’s just last month, is not doing as well as Scott and his wife Zelda, 24, had hoped. Selling out the first print run of almost 21,000 copies would cancel his debt to his publisher, but they are hoping for four times that.

great gatsby original cover

He has discovered that Perkins’ cable to him claiming that the early reviews are good had been a bit optimistic, and sales aren’t going great.

Scott is worried that he is reaching his peak already.

In America…

Perkins is writing to Fitzgerald,

‘It is too bad about Hemingway,’

regretting losing a promising novelist to a rival.

But he’s even more concerned about the mixed reviews for Fitzgerald’s Gatsby. The New York Times has called it

‘a long short story’;

the Herald Tribune,

‘an uncurbed melodrama’;

and the World,

‘a dud,’

in the headline no less. Even H L Mencken, 44, who can usually be relied on for some insight in the Chicago Tribune, has dismissed it as a

‘glorified anecdote.’

Chicago Tribune May 24 1925

And FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, 43], the most widely read columnist in Manhattan, says it is just a

‘dull tayle’

about rich and famous drunks.

However, FPA is not known for fulsome praise. Back in February he had prepared the readers of his Conning Tower column for the launch of a new magazine, The New Yorker, by saying that

‘most of it seemed too frothy for my liking.’

He didn’t mention that he had written some of the froth to help out his friends who were starting the publication. For the past couple months he’s been going weekly into the magazine’s shabby office to choose the poetry. There have been some funny pieces by one of his own discoveries, Dorothy Parker, 31, but he doesn’t give it much hope of lasting.

The New Yorker cover may 9 1925

By now, sales of The New Yorker have gone from an initially respectable 15,000 to about half that. And the founder-editor, Harold Ross, 31, has had to cut the size to only 24 pages to save money.

But FPA can’t be bothered worrying about his friends’ losing business ventures. After finishing off a bad marriage earlier this year, he’s getting married!

Parker, Ross and all the others who gather for lunch at the midtown Algonquin Hotel daily, and for poker there weekly, have ventured out to Connecticut for the wedding.

Just yesterday, Ross’s chief investors decided to pull the plug on the magazine. Why throw good money after bad?

But, discussing their decision at the wedding, Ross and his main funder, Raoul Fleischmann, 39, start thinking that it may be too early to give up. Raoul says he’ll cough up enough to keep The New Yorker going through the summer, and then they can decide.

At the end of the day, FPA and his bride head back to the city, and he goes, as usual, to his Saturday night poker game and loses the money saved up for their honeymoon.

Donald Brace, 43, co-founder of Harcourt, Brace & Co., isn’t worried about funding, but he is anticipating reviews of two books he has just published:  Virginia Woolf’s essays, The Common Reader, and novel, Mrs. Dalloway.

Mrs. D Harcourt Brace cover

They have had success with Woolf before, but this is the first time that publication is simultaneous in the US and the UK.

The New York Times has raved about both Mrs. Dalloway and The Common Reader, comparing Woolf’s essay style to that of Lytton’s.

The Saturday Review of Literature calls the novel

‘coherent, lucid, and enthralling’

and wants her to write a piece for them about American fiction.

Virginia and Leonard will be pleased.