At the Lyric Theatre in the West 40s, Manhattan, November, 1925…

 

…playwright George S Kaufman, about to turn 36, thinks the new song for the musical, The Cocoanuts, he is writing with Morry Ryskind, just turned 30, is silly.

He has brought in Ryskind to help him tame the stars, the Marx Brothers. They are constantly late for rehearsal, and Kaufman has always found them to be totally unpredictable. Groucho, 35, has made it clear that he doesn’t like Kaufman’s wife, Bea, 31, and Chico, 38, is a disgusting compulsive gambler. Kaufman himself is a regular at his Round Table friends’ Thanatopsis Literary and Inside Straight Club poker game, but he certainly isn’t addicted to it like Chico.

Now the composer, Irving Berlin, 37, who Kaufman has enjoyed working with in the past, has brought them this song. Kaufman does not want to include it.

I’ll be loving you, always.’

How stupid is that for an opening line? No one is going to believe that lyric, thinks Kaufman. You might as well say,

I’ll be loving you, Thursday…’

The song is out.

marx-brothers-the-cocoanuts

Chico, Groucho, and Harpo Marx in The Cocoanuts

Again this year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ during and after their times together.

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.

To walk with me and the ‘Such Friends’ through Bloomsbury, download the Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group audio walking tour from VoiceMap. Look for our upcoming walking tour about the Paris ‘such friends.’

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In mid-town Manhattan, fall, 1924…

Harold Ross, 31, is working on the prospectus for his new project, a weekly magazine for New Yorkers.

For the past year or so, he and his wife, reporter Jane Grant, 32, have been badgering everyone they know with a dummy of their proposed first issue, trying to scare up some funding. Finally, Harold’s friend from The Stars & Stripes newspaper in France during the war, New York World writer Alexander Woollcott, 37, has finally come through with an introduction to Raoul Fleischmann, 38, heir to the yeast fortune.

Now he’s got to pitch the idea. Really pitch it. Ross knows what he wants to say. But to give the project credibility, he has been advised to make use of the writers he lunches with at the Algonquin Hotel almost every day.

He can’t include Robert Benchley, just turned 34, because he is on contract to Life magazine. He really shouldn’t list his other Stars & Stripes buddies, columnist FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, about to turn 43] and sports writer Heywood Broun, 35, because their employer the World newspaper, would not be happy.

Who’s left? Are they really his ‘advisors’? Can he claim that? Ross decides to take a risk:

Announcing a New Weekly Magazine:

The New Yorker:

The New Yorker will be a reflection in word and pictures of metropolitan life.

It will be human. Its general tenor will be one of gaiety, wit and satire,

but it will be more than a jester.

It will not be what is commonly called radical or highbrow.

It will be what is commonly called sophisticated,

in that it will assume a reasonable degree of enlightenment

on the part of its readers.

It will hate bunk…

The New Yorker will appear early in February.

The price will be:  $5 a yr.

15 cents a copy

Address:  25 West 45th Street, New York City

Advisory Editors,

Ralph Barton

George S. Kaufman [34]

Heywood Broun

Alice Duer Miller

Marc Connelly [34]

Dorothy Parker [31]

Edna Ferber

Laurence Stallings

Rea Irvin

Alexander Woollcott

HW Ross, Editor”

Original_New_Yorker_cover

The first cover of The New Yorker

Again this year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ during and after their times together.

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.

To walk with me and the ‘Such Friends’ through Bloomsbury, download the Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group audio walking tour from VoiceMap. Look for our upcoming walking tour about the Paris ‘such friends.’

At the Court Theatre in Chicago, February 20, 1921…

…playwright Marc Connelly, 30, is feeling excited.

Dulcy, his first collaboration with George S. Kaufman, 31, also from western Pennsylvania, is about to open in its tryout before Broadway.

They had written it at night, after working their day jobs on Manhattan newspapers, and based it on a character used in the column of their Algonquin Round Table lunch buddy, FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, 39].

A week ago Dulcy had been a hit in Indianapolis. The lead Lynn Fontanne, 33, has star written all over her.

But his new writing partner, Kaufman, is a wreck. At dinner tonight he said to Connelly,

We’ve been kidding ourselves and might as well admit it.’

If Kaufmann is this nervous when things are going well, Connelly thinks, what is he going to be like to work with when they don’t have a hit?!

dulcy-poster Pgh playwrights co.

Poster for a recent production of Dulcy by the Pittsburgh Playwrights Co.

Again this year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ during and after their times together.

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.

To walk with me and the ‘Such Friends’ through Bloomsbury, download the Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group audio walking tour from VoiceMap. Look for our upcoming walking tour about the Paris ‘such friends.’

In Manhattan in mid-summer of 1915…

…New York Tribune writer FPA [Franklin P. Adams, 33] is searching for material for his daily column, “The Conning Tower.”

It appears that his loyal readers stuck with him after he got kicked off The Evening Mail last year—after a decade of building up one of the largest audiences in New York–when it was bought by a pro-German syndicate. The new owners managed to get rid of most of their Jewish writers, including one of FPA’s proteges, George S Kaufman, 25. So he’d brought Kaufman with him to the Trib.

Now FPA’s thinking of giving one of his other young writer friends a mention, Heywood Broun, 27. He has just moved from sports reporter to drama critic at the Trib. And has told FPA that he’s fallen madly in love with a Russian ballerina, Lydia Lopokova, 23, and is determined to marry her. FPA writes for tomorrow’s issue,

Heywood Broun, the critic, I hear hath become engaged to Mistress Lydia Lopokova, the pretty play actress and dancer. He did introduce her to me last night and she seemed a merry elf.’

Lydia Lopokova, c. 1915

Lydia Lopokova, c. 1915

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.

100 years ago this month, September 1914…

…In England

War has come to Bloomsbury.

The image of Lord Horatio Kitchener, 64, recruiting young men, appears for the first time, on the black and white cover of London Opinion magazine.

1st appearance of Lord Kitchener's recruiting image

1st appearance of Lord Kitchener’s recruiting image

Bloomsbury friend, critic Desmond MacCarthy, 37, has signed up for the Red Cross Ambulance Service; art critic Clive Bell, turning 33, is trying to figure out how to join a non-combat unit such as the Army Service Corps; and painter Duncan Grant, 29, has entered the National Reserve.

Despite the hostilities in the rest of Europe, the Bloomsberries don’t stop moving. Duncan takes a studio in Fitzroy Square as well as rooms in nearby 46 Gordon Square, where Clive lives with his wife, painter Vanessa Bell, 35. Their friend John Maynard Keynes, 31, writing articles for The Economist magazine, moves to Great Ormond Street; and Vanessa’s sister, writer Virginia Woolf, 32, and her husband, Leonard, 33, are house hunting in London while still spending time at the sisters’ Sussex retreat, Asham.

On Tuesday, 9th September, and Sunday, 14th September, I will be leading a ‘Such Friends’ walking tour of some of these spots in Bloomsbury. Either day we’re meeting at 12:30 at the Mrs. Dalloway bench in Gordon Square, and after a stroll around the area, taking the Tube to see the excellent exhibit, Virginia Woolf: Art, Life & Vision, at the National Portrait Gallery [http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/virginiawoolf/home.php]. Email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com if you would like to join us.

 …In France

Near Paris, the French and British forces rout the Germans and, despite the half million casualties, the Allies score a victory that leads most to believe the troops will be home by Christmas. From her vantage point in Huily, journalist Mildred Aldrich, 60, watches the battle, taking detailed notes in both her journal and letters to her friend and fellow-American ex-patriate, Gertrude Stein, 40, in Paris.

…in America

One who is convinced that the German defeat will mean a short war is American artist and critic Walter Pach, 31, who is hoping to follow up the success of last year’s Armory Show with future exhibits of the latest contemporary art. He decides this would be a good time to go back to Europe and collect the works that have already been promised.

Also in New York, at Columbia University, George S Kaufman, 24, is looking for a new career by taking a playwriting course. But at Princeton University, F. Scott Fitzgerald, turning 18, can write proudly in his ledger, ‘Play accepted.’ His Fie! Fie! Fi-Fi! musical for the university’s Triangle Club gets good reviews and is a big hit.

The socialist magazine The Masses carries an article by former Mexican war correspondent John Reed, 26, which states of the current conflict in Europe:

“We, who are Socialists, must hope — we may even expect — that out of this horror of bloodshed and dire destruction will come far-reaching social changes — and a long step forward towards our goal of Peace among Men.

“But we must not be duped by this editorial buncombe about Liberalism going forth to Holy War against Tyranny.

“This is not Our War.”

Yet.

Cover of The Masses, September 1914

Cover of The Masses, September 1914

100 years ago this month, July 1914…

In England…

…Americans Gertrude Stein, 40, and her partner Alice B. Toklas, 37, are visiting London. They are hopeful that British publisher John Lane, 60, of Bodley Head will make good on his promise to publish Gertrude’s Three Lives. Most of literary London isn’t familiar with her writing, but both Lane’s wife and his friend, art critic Roger Fry, 47, have recommended her.

In exchange Lane introduces Gertrude and Alice to the magazine Blast, published by Wyndham Lewis, 31. On a trip to Cambridge, they meet and become friends with philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, 53. Alice says that when she meets a genius she hears bells and it has happened three times: When she met Gertrude almost seven years before, then Pablo Picasso, 32, the very next day, and now Alfred. After this encounter however–no more bells.

 

The catalog for John Lane's publishing house, Bodley Head.

The catalog for John Lane’s publishing house, Bodley Head.

Gertrude’s friend and supporter, American Mabel Dodge, 35, has encouraged her to meet with Lane, and Gertrude promised Mabel that she will “do her best to look like a genius” in London. They attend Lane’s Sunday afternoon salon, and, as she did in her own drawing room in Paris, Gertrude sits quietly listening until a topic arises that she is interested in, and then talks for hours in an uninterrupted flow. Alice just sits and listens.

At the end of the month, King George V holds a conference at Buckingham Palace to work out how to introduce Home Rule to Ireland without inciting a civil war. Leaders from both sides, the nationalists and the unionists, sit down together for the first time to talk things out, as civilized countries do.

Also in London, American journalist and playwright George S. Kaufman, 24, has sailed over to take in the European sights. He manages to attend a meeting of suffragettes before taking off to visit the Netherlands and France.

In France…

…In addition to Kaufman, another newspaperman, New York Times drama critic Alexander Woollcott, 27, is in Paris to learn about theatre and interview legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt, 69. He’ll be heading home soon.

Gertrude’s brother Michael, 49, has lent 19 of their paintings by Henri Matisse, 44, to a German gallery. The artist had asked his friends to make the loan, assuring them that the gallery in Berlin was a perfectly safe place to send them.

Matisse’s Promenade des Oliviers which the Steins lent to a Berlin gallery in July 1914, and recently sold for £2.77 million in London

Matisse’s Promenade des Oliviers which the Steins lent to a Berlin gallery in July 1914, and recently sold for £2.77 million in London

On the 26th of the month, when Michael’s wife Sarah turns 44, the Tour de France ends with a victory by the incumbent champion, Belgian Philippe Thys, 24. Everyone is looking forward to next year’s race.

In America…

…at the New York Tribune, top columnist FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, 32] is lobbying to get a full time reporting job for his protégé, George S Kaufman, on his way back from his European tour.

Alfred Stieglitz, 50, owner of the 291 Gallery, publishes a special issue, “What is 291?” of his magazine Camera Work, including a tribute to the writings of Gertrude Stein by her friend and American publicist Mabel Dodge.

Stieglitz's magazine Camera Work

Stieglitz’s magazine Camera Work

Dodge is also working on a longer essay, “The Secret of War,” which the socialist magazine The Masses is interested in publishing. Based on her recent experience in Europe, she writes that the secret of war is that “Men like fighting. That is the force behind the war… We have been saying for a long time that war isn’t civilized. We should have realized perhaps that civilization isn’t human… [Another truth is] just as deep and just as profound… Women don’t like war.”

What was happening 100 years ago, January 1914…

…In Ireland?

Finally. After seven months of the Dublin Lock Out, it’s over.

Although the bitter lockout of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union by the United Tramways Co. marked the first time that Irish workers were organized, the unions lost. Even their leader, Jim Larkin, about to turn 38, admitted, “We are beaten. We make no bones about it.”

Douglas Hyde, just turned 54, one of the founders of the Gaelic League as well as the Abbey Theatre, initially supported the political groups that grew out of the early months of the strike. But now he is thinking that he may have to resign from his League again, as he did last year. The League he founded 17 years before to preserve the Irish language is becoming too political for his taste, and his best option may be to leave.

This month, 100 years later in 2014, the Abbey Theatre, founded by Hyde and his “Such Friends,” is staging James Plunkett’s The Risen People, set in the time of the Lockout: http://www.abbeytheatre.ie/whats_on/event/the-risen-people/

The Abbey Theatre's current production of The Risen People

The Abbey Theatre’s current production of The Risen People

…In England?

Hyde’s friend and fellow Abbey founder, poet William Butler Yeats, 48, is spending another winter in Stone Cottage in the East Sussex countryside, with his new secretary/assistant, American student Ezra Pound, 28, delighted to be working closely with one of his literary heroes.

In the middle of the month, Yeats takes time out to attend a party in West Sussex for Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, 73. The two poets shared a friendship with Abbey founder and director, Lady Augusta Gregory, 61, with whom Blunt—but not Yeats—had an affair.

Farther west in the English countryside, at the Lacket in Wiltshire, Lytton Strachey, 34, is also writing and visiting London regularly. One of his Bloomsbury friends, Virginia Woolf, about to turn 32, married for one year to Lytton’s Cambridge buddy Leonard, 34, has volunteered to do his typing for him. For Virginia, working on her first novel, the typing is a welcome break to help her recuperate from one of her recurring bouts of mental illness.

 

Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf

Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf

…In France?

Virginia’s sister, painter Vanessa Bell, 34, along with her husband, Clive, 32, and her former lover, Roger Fry, 47, are visiting Paris to find out what is going on in art. They have struck up a friendship with the city’s foremost ex-patriate art collectors, the Stein family from San Francisco. Vanessa, Clive and Roger have seen the Stein collection in the home of Michael, 48, and his wife Sarah, 43, on the Left Bank. Michael’s sister Gertrude, 39, who lives nearby at 27 rue de Fleurus, introduces the Brits to one of her favourite artists, Henri Matisse, just turned 44.

 

Gertrude is taking them to meet Pablo Picasso, 32, in his studio. Picasso has been championed by Gertrude and her brother, Leo, 41, who recently decided to live permanently in Italy. This leaves Gertrude and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 36, also from San Francisco, on their own to continue the popular Saturday evening salons showcasing the art they are buying.

The Stein family

The Stein family

In the south of France, Lytton’s cousin, painter Duncan Grant, about to turn 29, is meeting up with their Bloomsbury friend, economist John Maynard Keynes, 30, who has come along with his mother, 52, to try his luck at the casinos of Monte Carlo.

…In America?

Finally, George S Kaufman, 24, is getting by-lines for the features he is contributing to the New York Tribune. When his family moved to New York City from Pittsburgh a few years before, he had been thrilled to get a few squibs into the most read column in the city, “Good Humor,” compiled by the already legendary FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, 32] in the Evening Mail. FPA had taken a liking to Kaufman and even secured him a full-time writing job with the Times in Washington, DC, publicly congratulating him in the Mail.

However, after Kaufman spent a year in DC, mostly playing stud poker at the National Press Club, the anti-Semitic owner of the Times had spotted him and loudly asked, “What’s that Jew doing in my city room?” Kaufman returned to Manhattan.

In addition to the free-lance pieces he is selling, in the evenings Kaufman is working on some plays with friends, and thinking it would be a good year to visit Europe for the first time.

George S Kaufman

George S Kaufman