What a perfect time to visit your local independent bookstore!
If you are lucky enough to live near Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, you could stop by to say hi to our “such friends” at Riverstone Books on Forbes Avenue for their celebrations, 10 am to close.
While there, you could pick up signed copies of “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s, Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921, which are collections of the blogs that are posted on this site about what was happening 100 years ago.
“Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s—Volume I, 1920
And you could also buy some of Riverstone’s terrific Independent Bookstore merchandise!
Merchandise available at Riverstone Books
Remember—everyone is reading “Such Friends”!
Everyone reading “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s—Volume II, 1921
P. S. Follow this blog to receive updates on the progress of Volume III about the literary milestone year of 1922, due out this summer. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after The Great War at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Carnegie-Mellon University.
In Ireland, at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, still run by one of its founders, Lady Augusta Gregory, 69, the company is finishing up, with a matinee and evening performance today, the run of a double bill including A Pot of Broth by one of its other founders, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 56. The Abbey has been performing this little one act about gullible peasants since it was written over 15 years ago.
Throughout the country, violent atrocities are committed by the Irish Republican Army and the British Black and Tans, while in Dublin, in a huge leap forward for Irish independence, the government of the Irish Free State is finally coming into being.
Newspaper headline, December 8
In England, near Oxford, Yeats is encouraged by the news of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, giving Ireland, including 26 of the island’s 32 counties, Dominion status in the British Commonwealth. He writes to a friend that he expects the Irish parliament, the Dail, will ratify the treaty, but
I see no hope of escape from bitterness, and the extreme party may carry the country.”
With the establishment of the Irish Free State, Yeats and his wife Georgie, 29, are thinking of moving back to Dublin in the new year with their two children, Anne, 2 ½, and the recently christened Michael Butler Yeats, four months old.
In Sussex, Virginia, 39, and her husband LeonardWoolf, 41, have come to their country home, Monk’s House, for the holidays.
The Hogarth Press, the publishing company they have operated out of their home in the Richmond section of London for the past four years, is steadily growing. In total they published six titles this year, a 50% increase over last.
A book of woodcuts by a friend of theirs, Roger Fry, 55, that they brought out just a few months ago is going in to its third printing.
They have hired an assistant, Ralph Partridge, 27, who was at first helpful. Now he works in the basement, sleeps over during the week and has a bad habit of leaving the press and metal type dirty, which drives Leonard crazy. Partridge’s profit-sharing deal has increased from last year, but is only £125.
Before they came down here to ring in the new year, the Woolfs had a visit from their friend, one of their former best-selling writers, Katherine Mansfield, 33. They discussed excerpts from a new work, Ulysses, by Irish novelist James Joyce, 39, to be published in Paris in a few months. Mansfield agrees that it is disgusting, but she still found some scenes that she feels will one day be deemed important.
About three years ago, Virginia and Leonard were approached about publishing Ulysses, but they rejected it. They don’t regret their decision.
In France, Paris has become home to over 6,000 Americans, enjoying being let out of the prison of Prohibition back home.
Writer Gertrude Stein, 47, who has lived here for almost 20 years, has been laid up recently after minor surgery. She is still writing, working on Didn’t Nelly & Lilly Love You, which includes references to her birthplace, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and that of her partner for the past 14 years, Alice B. Toklas, 44, Oakland, California, and how the two of them met in Paris.
The author at Gertrude Stein’s house in Allegheny, Pennsylvania
Because she recently visited the nearby studio of another American ex-pat, painter and photographer Man Ray, 31, who just moved here last summer, Gertrude works into the piece “a description of Mr. Man Ray.“
In America, New York free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, 28, is attending, as usual, the New Year’s Eve party hosted by two of her friends from lunches at the Algonquin Hotel—New York World columnist Heywood Broun, 33, and his wife, journalist Ruth Hale, 34. Their party is an annual event, but bigger than ever this year because it is being held in their newly purchased brownstone at 333 West 85th Street.
Parker notes that they are directly across the street from one of the buildings that she lived in with her father.
Building across the street from the Brouns’ brownstone
Dottie is here alone. Her friends don’t expect her husband, stockbroker and war veteran Eddie Pond Parker, 28, to be with her. They joke that she keeps him in a broom closet back home.
She’s enjoying talking to one of her other lunch buddies, top New York Tribune columnist Franklin Pierce Adams [always known as FPA], 40, who is professing his undying love for Parker. While sitting next to his wife and keeping an eye on a pretty young actress in a pink dress.
All the furniture except for some folding chairs has been removed to make room for the 200 guests and a huge vat of orange blossoms [equal parts gin and orange juice, with powdered sugar thrown in]. No food or music. Just illegal booze.
As the turn of the new year approaches, the guests join the hosts in one of their favorite traditions. Dottie and the others each stand on a chair.
At the stroke of midnight they jump off, into the unknown of 1922.
Thanks to Neil Weatherall, author of the play, The Passion of the Playboy Riots, for help in unravelling Irish history.
On February 3, 2022, we will be celebrating the 148th birthday of my fellow Pittsburgh native Gertrude Stein, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill. To register for this free event, or to watch it via Zoom, go to Riverstone’s website.
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.
The communication between editor Maxwell Perkins, 37, and his hit novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 25, has continued as publication of Scott’s second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, draws closer.
Last month Perkins had written to Fitzgerald about a passage in which one of the characters makes disparaging remarks about the Bible. Max wasn’t offended, but Scribner’s has never published such heresy.
Max told Scott that he is concerned that some readers will believe Fitzgerald feels that way, writing,
I think I know exactly what you mean to express…but I don’t think it will go. Even when people are altogether wrong, you cannot but respect those who speak with such passionate sincerity.”
Fitzgerald, working from a rented office in St. Paul, Minnesota, to avoid his wife and newborn daughter at home, took offense, replying:
If this particular incident was without any literary merit…I should defer to your judgment without question. But that passage belongs beautifully to that scene.”
That statement worried Perkins. He wrote back,
Don’t ever defer to my judgment. You won’t on any vital point, I know, and I should be ashamed if it were possible to have made you, for a writer of any account must speak solely for himself.”
Fitzgerald agreed to compromise. A little. He changed “Godalmighty” to “deity,” cut “bawdy,” and edited “Oh, Christ” to “Oh, my God.”
But now Fitzgerald has sent Perkins a whole new ending, which his wife Zelda, 21, hates. Scott has cabled Max to get his opinion:
ZELDA THINKS BOOK SHOULD END WITH ANTHONY’S LAST SPEECH ON SHIP—SHE THINKS NEW ENDING IS A PIECE OF MORALITY. LET ME KNOW YOUR ADVICE IF YOU AGREE LAST WORD OF BOOK SHOULD BE I HAVE COME THROUGH OR DO YOU PREFER PRESENT ENDING I AM UNDECIDED JACKET IS EXCELLENT”
So today Perkins cables him,
I AGREE WITH ZELDA,”
and then sits down to write a more detailed explanation in a follow-up letter:
I think she is dead right about that…[The intended satire] will not of itself be understood by the great simple-minded public without a little help. For instance, in talking to one man about the book I received the comment that Anthony was unscathed; that he came through with his millions and thinking well of himself. This man completely missed the extraordinarily effective irony of the last few paragraphs.”
Perkins sends off the letter and edits the copy for the dust jacket so as to underline the irony.
Virginia, 39, and Leonard Woolf, 41, owners and operators of the Hogarth Press in Richmond, are quite pleased with the sales of their friend’s book, Twelve Original Woodcuts by Roger Fry, just turned 55, which they hand-printed, bound and published themselves. The original press run sold out in two days!
Self-portrait by Roger Fry
Not the same for Poems, by their brother-in-law Clive Bell, 40. The art critic is thrilled that anyone wants to publish these 17 poems, written over the past 12 years, including “To Lopokova Dancing,” an ode to the star of the Ballets Russes, Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, 30.
In the West End of London, another one of the Woolfs’ friends, economist John Maynard Keynes, 38, is returning to the Alhambra Theatre in Leicester Square. Since early November he has not missed a performance of the Ballets Russes’ The Sleeping Princess with Lopokova as Aurora.
The production itself has gotten terrible reviews; one calling it a “gorgeous calamity.” And Keynes’ friends in Bloomsbury, once so enamored of the ballet company for its avant-garde choices, have been turned off by this traditional re-staging of a three-act ballet from the end of the last century. They have even soured on Lopokova.
Lydia Lopokova in The Sleeping Princess
Serge Diaghilev, 49, impresario of the Ballets Russes, is losing his shirt on this one. After a disastrous first night he was seen to break down in tears. He received a huge advance against box office income from the Alhambra Company to mount this spectacle. Hardly anyone is coming and it has to run the full three months.
But none of this bothers Maynard. He’s not coming back for the Tchaikovsky score, re-orchestrated by Igor Stravinsky, 39. Or the outlandish sets and costumes.
He returns every evening because he finds himself, much to his surprise and that of all his friends, absolutely entranced by Lydia.
“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 you need gifts for Christmas, I’ll hand deliver them tomorrow anywhere on the Allegheny County Port Authority bus routes. Email me at email@example.com.
The newlyweds Hadley, 30, and Ernest Hemingway, 22, just arriving from Chicago, check in to the Hotel Jacob. The clerk hands them a note from fellow Chicagoan, Lewis Galantiere, 26, assistant to the American Commission to the International Chamber of Commerce, requesting that they meet him for dinner at Michaud’s, a short walk away.
American poet Tom Eliot, 33, has a decision to make.
His current plan is to leave Lausanne on Christmas Eve, when he should be done with the therapy treatments he is having here for his nervous condition. He will go to Paris to join up with his wife, Vivien, also 33, who has been there on her own for the past few weeks.
Hotel Sainte Luce
Or, he could stick around here for at least an extra week.
After he took a three-month leave of absence from his job at Lloyds Bank, Tom and Viv spent some weeks at Margate, on the English coast, where Tom made great progress on his long poem.
After seeing the top nerve specialist in London, Eliot agreed with him that he needed to get away and rest.
One of their friends, Ottoline Morrell, 48, who had shared with them her own bouts of depression, recommended this Dr. Roger Vittoz, 58, who had treated her brother here in Lausanne.
Dr. Roger Vittoz
The Eliots went first to Paris, where Tom worked on the poem—really still a handful of fragments—with another American ex-pat poet Ezra Pound, 36. Then Tom came here to begin treatments and Vivien stayed behind.
So far, Ottoline has been right about the town [although it’s a bit dull], the food [which is excellent], the people [who are very helpful], and the doctor.
The Vittoz method includes the doctor holding Tom’s head to read his brain waves and help to alter them. Vittoz gives Eliot exercises which involve repeating visuals and words which have brought him happiness.
Vittoz has been keeping Eliot busy, but he has found some times of calm to sit by Lake Geneva, working various moments he has experienced in to his epic.
The hotel is comfortable; the town is filled with chocolate shops, banks, and kids riding scooters over cobblestones.
From what Viv tells him, Paris is expensive. But any place in Europe is cheaper than London.
Tom is thinking he’ll stay here until the new year.
Of course, he could also spend a few days on the Riviera…
In Paris, Vivien is not only worried about the expense, she is lonely. She has a little room high up in this hotel and can afford to eat only here instead of in any of the lovely Parisian cafes.
Hotel Pas de Calais
And when she’s been out in the neighborhood, Vivien feels that any Brits she knows from back home have been avoiding her. Just the other day at the post office, art critic Roger Fry, just turned 55, wasn’t happy to see her and made a hasty exit.
Paris is still cheaper than London. Ezra Pound and his wife have just moved into a lovely two-room studio around the corner for only £75 per year.
Your favorite online retailer says there’s no way that your pressies will arrive before the holidays?!
Fear not—“Such Friends” is here to help.
We can get you copies of Volumes I and II of “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s—signed copies—in just a few days. We’ve got plenty of inventory and a handy post office. And if you live on any Allegheny County Port Authority bus route—I will personally hand deliver them.
Cover design by Lisa Thomson
Or support your local independent bookstore where you can walk in with an idea and walk out with books. For example, if you live anywhere near the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA—lucky you! There are signed copies of “Such Friends” available at Riverstone Books, near the intersection of Forbes and Murray Avenues.
“Such Friends” is the perfect gift for the literature lovers on your list. You have a good idea which books they like—but you really don’t know which ones they have or haven’t read.
They haven’t read this one!
By giving them “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s you are giving them the gift of gossip about their favorite early 20th century novelists, short story writers, poets, and journalists.
So go through that list again and see which of your “such friends” would love a copy of these books. And then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with their names and addresses.
And have a happy and healthy holiday.
Everyone is reading “Such Friends”
On February 3rd, 2022, I will be talking about Pittsburgh’s own Gertrude Stein and the Literary 1920s at 7 pm at Riverstone Books. It’s Stein’s 148th birthday and the event is free and open to the public. You can register at the Riverstone website so we know you’re coming. If you can’t show up in person that night, sign up on the website to tune in on Zoom.
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.
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.
More than two hundred people are crowding into two rooms in this small bookshop to hear French poet Valery Larbaud, 40, lecture and read from Ulysses, the latest work by Irish ex-patriate novelist James Joyce, 39.
Invitation to Ulysses reading
[Photo courtesy of Glenn Johnston]
This shop is owned by Adrienne Monnier, 29, whose partner, American ex-pat Sylvia Beach, 34, the owner of Shakespeare and Company across the street, is publishing Ulysses because no major publisher in America or England will touch it.
Publication date was supposed to be this autumn. But Joyce has been delayed by several bouts of bad health. His constant revisions are frustrating the printers. Those who have subscribed to get the first copies are getting restless. They want Ulysses!
So Beach and Monnier have organized this reading to placate impatient subscribers and promote the book among the French. At this point, they are hoping to bring it out on Joyce’s 40th birthday, next February 2nd.
Larbaud, who is not only a friend but a huge fan of Joyce, has been working for days in the back room of the shop with a bilingual Sorbonne music student, Jacques Benoist-Mechin, 20, to translate passages Larbaud can read to the crowd.
That’s what’s making Larbaud nervous. Although he has given talks here many times, never to a crowd this big. And never a reading with so much…well, sex in it.
In the invitation to the event, Beach and Monnier warn,
Certain pages have an uncommon boldness of expression that might quite legitimately be shocking.”
They don’t mention that a New York City court has already found excerpts to be obscene.
Waiting in the dark room is American ex-pat artist Man Ray, 31, even though he doesn’t understand much French. One American who is not here is the poet Ezra Pound, 36. He brought Joyce and his family to Paris over a year ago and promoted him and his work to all the right literati. Now he feels side-lined by the attention Beach’s upcoming publication is getting.
Monnier gives Larbaud a glass of brandy to calm his nerves. On his way to the little table in front of the crowd, he steps behind the screen which is hiding Joyce from the audience to admit to the author that he is going to leave out a few lines.
He begins his talk by reviewing the life and previous writings of the Irish author. Larbaud links the earlier novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and the short story collection Dubliners to this latest work and tells readers that the key to understanding Joyce’s Ulysses is to keep Homer’s Odyssey in mind.
Larbaud then reads translated parts of the “Sirens” and “Penelope” sections of Ulysses and is met with wild applause. At the end, Larbaud goes behind the screen and brings out Joyce, kissing him on both cheeks.
Roscoe Arbuckle, 34, is awaiting the jury’s verdict in his trial for manslaughter in the death of 26-year-old actress Virginia Rappe, after a drunken party in a hotel on Labor Day this year.
Arbuckle has protested his innocence since the day he was arrested. His attorney is optimistic about an acquittal.
Roscoe Arbuckle mug shot
The prosecutor, Matthew A. Brady, 46, has made this a show trial which will help his planned run for governor. He has used this as an opportunity to paint Roscoe, known to his fans as “Fatty,” as a sexually depraved lecher. Just like all those other scum down in Hollywood.
However, Brady is not able to put his star prosecution witness, a friend of the victim who was at the party, on the stand because there is evidence she has been trying to extort money from Arbuckle. Such as a telegram she sent to lawyers in San Diego:
WE HAVE ROSCOE ARBUCKLE IN A HOLE HERE CHANCE TO MAKE SOME MONEY OUT OF HIM.”
Of course, the whole story has been splashed over the front pages since the day it broke. Publisher William Randolph Hearst, 58, claims that this is selling more newspapers for him than the sinking of the Lusitania six years ago.
But even Roscoe’s estranged wife, Minta Durfee, 32, has stood by him, showing up in court for support. Someone actually shot at her one day when she was coming to the courthouse!
Roscoe’s co-workers have publicly stated that he could never have raped or murdered anyone. Charlie Chaplin, 32, whom he’s known since their days at Keystone Pictures over seven years ago, told the papers that he “knew Roscoe to be a genial, easy-going type who would not harm a fly.” Buster Keaton, 26, issued a supportive statement also—and was promptly reprimanded by his studio.
But Arbuckle’s films have been pulled from theatres and his reputation is shot.
And William S. Hart, about to turn 57, whom Arbuckle has never worked with or even met, said he thought “Fatty” was guilty. Why can’t they call him Roscoe?!
At the hospital, after examining Virginia, the doctor found no evidence of rape. At the hearing, the judge found no evidence of rape. The autopsy found there were no signs of violence on her body. The woman had a history of urinary infections, as well as getting quite drunk at parties, and curling up in pain.
Arbuckle’s attorney had witnesses ready to testify to Virginia’s sordid past. But Roscoe refused to let them. The poor woman is dead, for Chrissake.
At the end of the trial, last week, Arbuckle testified in his own defense. He remained surprisingly calm, and answered each question put to him.
Now the jury is back.
Deadlock. 10 to 2 not guilty. They could not reach a unanimous decision.