“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, June 19, 1922, Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London

The party seems to be going well.

Art critic Clive Bell, 40, is hosting the dinner party following this evening’s meeting of The Memoir Club.

Gordon Square

The Club was started a couple of years ago by about a dozen friends, family and lovers who live in and around the Bloomsbury section of London. Kept totally private, the main purpose of the organization is to get its members thinking about writing their own autobiographies. And because those who read out papers at the get-togethers are bound by the rules to be as candid as possible, The Memoir Club provides delightful entertainment as well.

Tonight’s presenters include Lytton Strachey, 42, whose biography of Queen Victoria was a big hit last year, and novelist Edward Morgan Forster, 43, recently returned from another trip to India.

Forster is in particularly good form tonight. By happy accident he has become the main topic of conversation in the letters page of the London Times.

At the beginning of the month, the Times’ review of Da Silva’s Widow and Other Stories by “Lucas Malet”—in reality Mary St. Leger Kinsley, 70—compared the book to Forster’s 1911 collection of six short stories, The Celestial Omnibus. Truth be told, Forster’s hadn’t sold well.

“Lucas Malet”

But the mention in the Times set off a volley of letters of praise for Forster’s writing, almost every day for two weeks, headlined “Mr. E. M. Forster’s Books.” This culminated in a letter from Kingsley herself who claimed she had never heard of him.

Well. She sure has heard of him now. The publisher of Celestial Omnibus wrote in offering a free copy of Forster’s book to anyone who made the same claim. A previous publisher got in touch, inquiring if Morgan was working on another novel. And sales soared.

The Celestial Omnibus

Reveling in his newfound fame, Morgan is feeling confident sharing pieces of his memoir and chatting with his Bloomsbury friends.

At the dinner, most of the discussion however is about a new long poem by another friend of theirs, the American ex-patriate Thomas Stearns Eliot, 33, which he calls The Waste Land. Eliot has been reading it out to friends over the past few months, and writer Mary Hutchinson, 33, Clive’s current mistress, calls it “Tom’s autobiography—a melancholy one.”

Mary Hutchinson and Clive Bell

Clive’s sister-in-law, novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, agrees with Mary’s opinion of the poem, but Virginia has been jealous of Hutchinson in the past. Tonight Mary is being quite kind. Virginia records in her diary later that Mary “crossed the room & purred in my ear.”

“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 in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This month I am 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 the fall, I will be talking about the centenary of The Waste Land in the Osher programs at CMU and the University of Pittsburgh.

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

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, May 20-21, 1922, Gordon Square, Bloomsbury; and Hogarth House, Richmond, London

In the Bloomsbury section of London, economist John Maynard Keynes, 39, is writing to his friend, painter Vanessa Bell, 42, about the living arrangements in Gordon Square for his current partner, Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, 30, and his former lover [and Vanessa’s current partner] painter Duncan Grant, 37.

46 Gordon Square, Londres, Royaume-Uni

No. 46 Gordon Square

If [Lydia] lived in 41, [Duncan] and I in 46, you and family in 50, and we all had meals in 46 that might not be a bad arrangement…We all want both to have and not have husbands and wives.”

*****

The next day, in Richmond, southwest London, Vanessa’s sister, novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, is writing to a friend describing a conversation she and her husband Leonard, 41, had recently:

Hogarth House

Leonard says we owe a great deal to [George Bernard] Shaw. I say that he only influenced the outer fringe of morality…Leonard says rot; I say damn. Then we go home. Leonard says I’m narrow. I say he’s stunted.”

Now that’s a marriage…

“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 in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Next month I will be talking about the Stein family salons in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University.

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

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, April, 1922, Palazzo San Giorgio, Genoa, Italy; and 50 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London

The Genoa Economic and Financial Conference is underway.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, 59, instigated this conference of delegates from selected European countries, to plan for the “reconstruction of economic Europe, devastated and broken into fragments by the desolating agency of war,” as he told the UK House of Commons. They gave him a rousing vote of confidence.

Rotogravure of the Palazzo San Giorgio

Over 700 journalists applied for the 200 ticketed slots to cover the four-week get together. Some of them have to sit on the floor.

The correspondent for the Toronto Star, American Ernest Hemingway, 22, arrived early in the month and began filing stories. His first description of the setting:

Genoa is crowded, a modern Babel with a corps of perspiring interpreters trying to bring the representatives of 40 [sic] different countries together. The narrow streets flow with crowds kept orderly by thousands of Italian troops.”

The troops in their black fezzes are visible to discourage violent outbreaks by Communists or anti-Communists in this city which is one-third “Red.” The best way to keep the peace seems to be closing the cafes, Hemingway observes.

The tension is exacerbated by Britain’s insistence, over France’s objection, that both Germany and Soviet Russia attend. France doesn’t want to invite their main debtor, the Weimar Republic, nor any representatives of the new Bolshevik government in Moscow.

America has declined to participate at all.

Living in Paris with his new wife since late last year, Ernie is happy to be covering his first major political event for the Star. He is getting used to filing his copy by cable, and a few of the more experienced journalists here have given him some tips. Muckraking investigative reporter Lincoln Steffens, just turned 56, showed him how to run words together—“aswellas”—to save money. Hemingway loves this.

It’s wonderful! It’s a new language. No fat, all bones and structure,”

he exclaims to his colleagues over chianti.

During the opening ceremony, the arrival of Lloyd George is met with a loud ovation. The other delegations enter, and, as Hemingway describes the scene:

When the hall is nearly full, the British delegation enters. They have come in motor cars through the troop-lined streets and enter with elan. They are the best dressed delegation…The hall is crowded and sweltering and the four empty chairs of the Soviet delegation are the four emptiest looking chairs I have ever seen. Everyone is wondering whether they will not appear. Finally they come through the door and start making their way through the crowd. Lloyd George looks at them intently, fingering his glasses…A mass of secretaries follow the Russian delegates, including two girls with fresh faces, hair bobbed in the fashion started by [American dancer] Irene Castle, and modish tailored suits. They are far and away the best-looking girls in the conference hall. The Russians are seated. Someone hisses for silence, and Signor Facta starts the dreary round of speeches that sends the conference under way.”

*****

Economist John Maynard Keynes, 38, is one of the many Brits attending. He represented his government in Versailles at the Paris Peace Conference three years ago—when Germany and Russia were definitely not invited. But now he is here as General Editor of a special 12-part series, “Reconstruction in Europe” by the Manchester Guardian Commercial. These supplements are being translated into five languages and include contributions from leading statesmen and businessmen, along with 13 pieces by Keynes.

First Manchester Guardian supplement

The Guardian approached Maynard last year to take on this role, and he agreed only when they assured him he would be able to closely supervise the writers who would be chosen. Keynes is using this medium to get across his opinions of the steps being taken to rebuild a Europe which has been so devastated by the Great War.

Throughout the conference, Keynes keeps up a steady correspondence with his friends back home. Particularly his most recent lover, Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, 30.

*****

Back in Bloomsbury, Lydia is enjoying settling into her new home in 50 Gordon Square, where Maynard installed her before he left, surrounded by his artsy Bloomsbury friends and just a few doors away from his residence in number 46.

Lydia has left the Ballets Russes, where she was a principal dancer for many years, and is now dancing in Covent Garden with the company led by fellow Russian Leonid Massine, 25, former choreographer with the Ballets Russes.

Since Maynard left for Italy, Lydia has been writing to him almost every day about the details of her new London life; commenting on his articles in the Guardian

Your expression in the end give me nice tremblings”—

and how much she misses him—

I place melodious strokes all over you. Maynard, you are very nice.”

Lydia Lopokova

Thanks to Dr. Marie Hooper for assistance in understanding European history.

“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 in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

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.

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

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, December, 1921, Richmond; and West End, London

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.

To see Lydia Lopokova dancing a few years before, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfIHu7b8J4k&fbclid=IwAR3u_4zsWC25sVavS6nO9byBJEcl97T795LcQjddIcuJxyVMHtZ72E9jf-Y

“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 kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early in the new year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

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

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.

“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, October, 1921, Hotel La Maison Blanche, 3 Traverse des Lices, Saint Tropez, France

The friends from London’s Bloomsbury neighborhood are settling into this hotel on the French Riviera.

Hotel La Maison Blanche

As soon as painter Vanessa Bell, 42, arrives, she writes to their friend, economist John Maynard Keynes, 38, back home, asking him to send them a dozen packages of oatmeal, 10 seven-pound tins of marmalade, four pounds of tea, and “some potted meat.”

Vanessa is here with her former lover, art critic Roger Fry, 54, who has received a letter from Vanessa’s sister, novelist Virginia Woolf, 39, reporting on a recent evening at her country home in Sussex: 

T. S. Eliot says that [James Joyce’s novel Ulysses] is the greatest work of the age—Lytton [Strachey] says he doesn’t mean to read it. Clive [Bell, Vanessa’s husband] says—well, Clive says that [his mistress] Mary Hutchinson has a dressmaker who would make me look like other people.”

Also here for the winter is Vanessa’s partner, painter Duncan Grant, 36, who has arrived via Paris.

Visitors or not, Vanessa intends to spend her time here working on still lifes and interiors, in preparation for her first solo show next spring.

Vanessa Bell’s Interior with a Table

“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 in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

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

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, March, 1921, Charleston Farmhouse, East Sussex, England

Vanessa Bell, 41, painting at her country home, Charleston, is pleased to have her work in an exhibit, “Some Contemporary English Artists,” on now at the Independent Gallery, in Grafton Street in the posh Mayfair section of London.

Chrysanthemums by Vanessa Bell, 1920

Also included in the exhibit is work by her partner, Duncan Grant, 36.

Self-portrait in a Mirror by Duncan Grant, 1920

Last month her brother Adrian Stephen, 37, and his wife Karin, 32, both psychologists, commissioned Vanessa and Duncan to decorate their rooms at 40 Gordon Square, the same part of Bloomsbury where Vanessa has lived since her father died in 1904.

And the two painters are still working on a big commission from their Bloomsbury friend, economist John Maynard Keynes, 37, to create new murals for his rooms at King’s College, Cambridge. Since last summer they have been producing eight allegorical figures, alternating male and female, to fill almost a whole wall, representing Science, Political Economics, Music, Classics, Law, Mathematics, Philosophy and History as well as advising Maynard on every detail of the interior decoration of the sitting room, right down to the color of the curtains.

Drawings for Vanessa and Duncan’s murals for Maynard’s Cambridge sitting room

So they are busy. Together.  They work well as a team and have received recognition. But Vanessa is worried that her painting is becoming too much like Duncan’s.

What Vanessa really wants is to have a solo exhibit of her own work. As Duncan did last year.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I, covering 1920, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

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

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

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, Summer, 1920, London, Bishopsbourne, and East Sussex, England

At 74 Gloucester Place in Marylebone, London, publisher and editor Harriet Shaw Weaver, 43, is thrilled to have received a letter from the American owner of the Paris bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., Sylvia Beach, 33.

H Weaver

Harriet Shaw Weaver

Having just met Irish writer James Joyce, 38, Beach wants to buy as many books as she can from Weaver’s Egoist Press, which supports Joyce. Weaver is writing back to offer Shakespeare & Co. a 33% discount and free shipping. She knows this is going to be a good deal.

Later in the summer, Weaver uses an inheritance from her aunt to set up a trust to fund Joyce. She had submitted his latest work in progress, Ulysses, to many publishers, including London’s Hogarth Press, run by Virginia Woolf, 38, and her husband Leonard, 39, but no one wants to touch it.

A few stops east on the Metropolitan Railway, and a short walk from Euston Station, a luncheon is being held at 46 Gordon Square in Bloomsbury to honor art critic and painter Roger Fry, 53, on the occasion of his private showing of 81 paintings at London’s Independent Gallery. His Bloomsbury friend, fellow painter Duncan Grant, 35, had returned from his two-month trip to France and Italy with two cases of paintings that Fry had done while he was there.

Roger Fry c. 1910

Roger Fry

Fry appreciates his friends’ attempt to cheer him up because, despite fairly low prices for all his works, neither the reviews nor the sales are going well. Earlier in the summer he had written to a friend,

It’s almost impossible for an artist to live in England:  I feel so isolated.”

After an easy Underground ride from nearby Russell Square station, south on the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square station, it’s a short walk to the New Theater. The first play by actor Noel Coward, 20, I’ll Leave It to You, is getting good reviews. Coward stars in his own play, which has just transferred to the West End from a successful run up north in Manchester.

noel_coward_young

Noel Coward

The London Times is excited:

It is a remarkable piece of work from so young a head–spontaneous, light, and always ‘brainy.’”

And the Observer predicts:

Mr Coward…has a sense of comedy, and if he can overcome a tendency to smartness, he will probably produce a good play one of these days.”

But this one closes after only 37 performances.

London tube map 1921

London Underground map

From Leicester Square station, heading south down the Hampstead Line, changing to go east on the District Line, the Cannon Street station is in the heart of the City, the financial capital of the country. At the Cannon Street Hotel, a group of radical socialists have gathered for the first Congress of their newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain.

The publisher and editor of the socialist Worker’s Dreadnought newspaper, Sylvia Pankhurst, 38, and one of her reporters, Jamaican Claude McKay, 30, both attend. But Sylvia decides the Communists are way too right wing for her taste, and votes against affiliating with the Labour Party.

Communist Unity Convention 1920

Communist Unity Convention, Summer 1920

Farther south down the District Line, near the West Kensington station, poet Ezra Pound, 34, is back in London after spending time in Europe specifically to introduce his new find, James Joyce, to the literary society of Paris. Pound gives a brown paper package with old clothing and shoes to his friends, poet T. S. Eliot, 31, and painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, 37, to pass on to Joyce on their upcoming trip to Paris.

Farther south, the District line terminates in Richmond. A few blocks from the station in Hogarth House on Paradise Road, the Woolfs are feeling overwhelmed by the success of their Hogarth Press.

The sales flooding in up until now have been primarily from word of mouth among their Bloomsbury friends. Who also send along their manuscripts for the Woolfs to publish.

They’ve recently taken their first ads in national papers such as the Times and the Manchester Guardian and magazines such as the Nation and the New Statesman. Leonard is closing out the account for Eliot’s Poems, and finds they have made a small profit of £9.

This summer they are planning to bring out Reminiscences of Count Leo Tolstoi, by Maxim Gorky, 52, translated by their friend S. S. Koteliansky, 40.

hogarth-house

Hogarth House, Richmond

This is quite a landmark for the Woolfs and their five-year-old company. Not only is it the first Russian translation they have published, with an initial run of 1,250 it is also the first time they have used an outside commercial printer from beginning to end. Up until now they have been setting type, printing and binding, all on their own in their home. Now they have become a true publishing house, not just a small press.

Virginia writes to a friend,

The Hogarth Press is growing like a beanstalk and [Leonard and I] think we must set up a shop and keep a clerk.”

Later in the summer she confides to her diary that Leonard is

on the verge of destruction. As a hobby, the Hogarth Press is clearly too lively & lusty to be carried on in this private way any longer. Moreover, the business part of it can’t be shared, owing to my incompetence. The future, therefore, needs consideration.”

****

About a two-hour drive southeast of Richmond is Bishopsbourne, Kent. At his house, Oswalds, Polish-born novelist Joseph Conrad, 62, is writing to his American benefactor, Irish-American lawyer, John Quinn, 50, in New York.

Oswalds Kent

Oswalds, Bishopsbourne, Kent

Quinn was not happy that Conrad went back on his promise to sell the manuscript of his latest novel to Quinn. But Conrad explained that he had hurriedly sold it to another collector to get cash quickly, and Quinn was understanding. Conrad writes, “

I am glad you take my arrangement as to the MSS. so well…I had many claims on me, and I have some still…—not to speak of my wife’s prolonged disablement.”

Conrad is comforted by the fact that after his death his copyrights will help support his wife Jessie, 46, and their two sons. One of whom is named for Quinn.

Quinn writes back to re-assure him,

You are far from the end of your time…You are one of the leading writers living in the world today and still producing work that is worthy of your best…There is no falling off there [in Conrad’s latest novel The Rescue]! It is a fine thing, one of your best things.”

*****

Seventy miles farther south, in Rodmell, East Sussex, the Woolfs are spending the last half of the summer at their country home, Monk’s House, still worried about overworking at Hogarth.

monk's house from road

Monk’s House, Rodmell, Sussex

Their young friends, painter Dora Carrington, 27, and her lover Ralph Partridge, 26, have  come to stay for a weekend, and the Woolfs talk to Partridge about working for them. Virginia writes to Fry, back in Bloomsbury, that she and Leonard

now think of setting up a proper printing plant and doing all production ourselves—that is with a manager…[Or else close it] as we can’t go on with it as we’ve been doing.”

By the end of August the Hogarth Press has hired Partridge as a part-time assistant for £100 per year and 50% of their net profit.

A twenty-minute drive away, at Charleston Farmhouse, Virginia’s sister, painter Vanessa Bell, is hosting the usual summer assemblage of Bloomsbury creatives.

Charleston farmhouse_exterior_photo_credit_grace_towner better

Charleston Farmhouse, Firle, Sussex

Julian, 12, her son with her estranged husband, art critic Clive Bell, 38, has set off his airgun by mistake and a bullet has gotten stuck in a chair.

According to one of their friends, up in his room Clive is

pretending to read Stendhal.”

Down the hall, economist John Maynard Keynes, just turned 37, is working on his latest book, A Treatise on Probability while continuing to edit the Economic Journal.

Vanessa and her partner, Duncan Grant, are working on a huge project. Keynes has commissioned them to create new murals for his rooms at King’s College, Cambridge. They have decided to produce eight allegorical figures, alternating male and female, to fill almost a whole wall, representing Science, Political Economics, Music, Classics, Law, Mathematics, Philosophy and History. They are advising Maynard on every detail of the interior decoration of the sitting room, right down to the color of the curtains.

Duncan has just returned from a visit to his aging parents up in Kent, and is a bit concerned about his father’s welfare. He tells Vanessa that in the nursing home the Major, 63, is

spending most of his time alone and hardly ever speaking at meals.”

Duncan hopes Virginia and Leonard could make use of his father on some Hogarth Press project.

Overall, Duncan writes to a friend back in Bloomsbury,

Life here is very quiet.”

Studies for murals in Keynes rooms

Drawings for Vanessa and Duncan’s murals for Keynes’ Cambridge sitting room

“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.

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

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

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

 

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, Mid-May, 1920, Ile St. Louis, Paris

Painter Duncan Grant, 35, is having a glass of wine in the most fabulous apartment, lent to him by posh friends for the past two months, at the tip of Ile St. Louis, looking out at Notre Dame.

What a great trip.

Two months ago he was home in London, with his partner, fellow painter Vanessa Bell, 41, listening to a reading of a memoir by her sister, novelist Virginia Woolf, 38.

The next night, he was in Paris dining with his former lover, economist John Maynard Keynes, 37, at legendary restaurant La Perouse, with its scandalous secret rooms.

La Perouse

La Perouse, 51 Quai des Grands Augustins

On the Tuesday he arrived he had written to Vanessa back in London, describing the flat as

full of Bonnards & Vuillards & exquisite views over the Seine with an old world French house servant called Jean. I have only seen it all by the light of the sunset…I do wish you could come before Friday night.”

Vanessa did come over and they had gone with Keynes to Rome for a month. Maynard had wisely determined that the lire would sink against the pound and advised them to spend. Which they did.

grant-and-keynes

Duncan Grant and Maynard Keynes

Rome was filled with tourists. Duncan wrote to his lover, Bunny Garnett, 28, who was staying in Duncan’s rooms back in Bloomsbury, that Rome

is packed with the Italian aristocrats who simply love living in hotels and leaving their estates to Bolsheviks in the country. Our hotel is cram full of contessas, marchesas, principessas, and duchesses. They don’t get up till lunch, at 1, have a siesta till about 4, eat ices and drink coffee till 5 when they take a drive on the Pincio, home to dinner at 9:30. Jazz till 2, even the old ladies received till 4 or 5 in the morning…1 can buy masses of arum lilies irises roses pansies and marigolds for a few francs on the steps of the Piazza di Spagna.”

Maynard, now quite the celebrity economist, had been invited to visit with American art historian Bernard Berenson, 54, at his Villa I Tatti outside Florence. He had insisted that Vanessa and Duncan come along.

Back in Paris, the month of May had started off with riots during the International Labor Day celebrations, and then strikes broke out all over the country—dock workers, coal miners, and, most inconvenient of all, railway workers.

Vanessa had written letters home about their fascinating dinners with

the Derains, Braque & Mme., and Satie—sat til 2 am outside Lipps talking in the end only to the Derains—all the others went. It was very hot & got delicious at that hour. Derain was perfectly charming & so was she. In fact the more I see of her the more I like her & the more I am overcome by her beauty. I think she’s one of the most astonishing people I’ve ever met & less terrifying than she was at first.”

Madame Derain in a White Shawl c.1919-20 by Andr? Derain 1880-1954

Mme. Derain in a White Shawl by Andre Derain

His traveling companions have all left, so today Duncan goes back to La Perouse for lunch, this time with the founder of Nouvelle Revue Française (The New French Review), Andre Gide, 50, and his lover of the past four years, photographer Marc Allegret, 19.

Now it is time for Duncan to go back home to London. One last glass of wine…

“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.

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

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

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

 

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, March 10, 1920, Bloomsbury, London

Painter Vanessa Bell, 40, is furious. And “amused.”

She has just received a letter from her friend, writer Madge Vaughan, 51, wife of her cousin, William, 55, the headmaster of quite posh Wellington College.

Vanessa and her sister, novelist Virginia Woolf, 38, have always been fond of Madge. But she definitely lives a much more traditional life than Virginia and Vanessa do.

Madge is interested in possibly renting out Vanessa’s country home, Charleston in Sussex, for a family holiday, so she is staying there herself to try it out. Madge is well aware of Vanessa’s bohemian living arrangements—with her husband, art critic Clive Bell, 38, her gay lover, painter Duncan Grant, 35, and their daughter, Angelica, 14 months old. But apparently actually being in the home with the well-blended Bell and Grant families makes Madge uncomfortable.

charleston photo

Charleston Farmhouse

In her letter to Vanessa she says,

I love you and I am faithful to old friends…I have set my back against slander and chatter and fought your battles always through the years. But I love, with increasing passion, Goodness, purity and homeliness and the hearts of little children are the holiest things I know on earth. And a question gnaws at my poor heart here in this house. It came stabbing my heart that day when I saw Angelica. I would like to meet you as a woman friend face to face at some quiet place and to talk it out. I don’t feel I could come and live here with Will and the children unless I had done this.”

Madge Vaughan

Madge Vaughan

Vanessa writes back,

Why on earth should my moral character have anything to do with the question of your taking Charleston or not? I suppose you don’t always enquire into your landlords’ character. However, take it or not as you like…As for the gossip about me,…I cannot conceive why you think it any business of yours. I am absolutely indifferent to anything the world may say about me, my husband or my children…[Neither Clive nor I] think much of the world’s will or opinion, or that a ‘conventional home’ is necessarily a happy or good one, that my married life has not been full of restraints but, on the contrary, full of ease, freedom and complete confidence…”

NPG 4331,Vanessa Bell (nÈe Stephen),by Duncan Grant

Vanessa Bell by Duncan Grant, 1918

Thanks to Peter Monteith, Assistant Archivist at King’s College, Cambridge, for help with dating these letters.

“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.

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

In 2020 I will be talking about the 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 F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, February, 1920, London, England

Painter Duncan Grant, 35, is feeling pretty good about himself.

His first solo show opened earlier this month at the Paterson-Carfax Gallery in Old Bond Street and sales are going well. His Bloomsbury friends have been very supportive. Art critic Roger Fry, 53, organized the opening party. Fry picked Duncan’s Reclining Nude to give to their friend, novelist Virginia Woolf, 37, as a present, and Duncan gave her one of his watercolors. He’s produced many this year.

Reclining Nude watercolor Duncan 1920

Reclining Nude by Duncan Grant

Their other buddy, writer Lytton Strachey, 39, who just had a big hit with his untraditional biography, Eminent Victorians, bought Grant’s painting Juggler and Tightrope Walker for £60.

Juggler from athenaeium again

Juggler and Tightrope Walker by Duncan Grant

Without revealing that he and Duncan are good friends, art critic Clive Bell, 38, Virginia’s brother-in-law, had declared in the Athenaeum:

Duncan Grant is, in my opinion, the best English painter alive.”

Duncan has heard that the Daily Telegraph’s critic is planning a less-than complementary review. But—at least his mom is happy. Ethel Grant, 57, wrote to him the day after the opening,

I was a proud woman yesterday…Your show is going to be a big success I am convinced. You will know that five pictures were sold when we got there…I think the pictures are so well hung and when I went in the morning, with a bright sun and an empty room, the whole place seemed full of colour and joy. I felt exhilarated. Dear darling boy I am so pleased and hope you are going to make your mark at once.”

Fingers crossed.

“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.

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

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’sOsher Lifelong Learning programs.

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