“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, December 29, 1920, 38 West 59th Street, Central Park South, New York City, New York

Scribner’s Sons’ hit novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, has had a good year, his first as a successful writer.

His income from writing totals $18,850. His first novel, This Side of Paradise, was both a financial and critical success, with sales at over 40,000 copies. His follow-up short story collection, Flappers and Philosophers, is also doing quite well.

And he married the woman of his dreams, Zelda Sayre, 20. This is as happy as he has been since he was 18.

Now that he has just about finished his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, Scott and Zelda are pleased to be out of Westport, Connecticut, where they spent the summer. They are back in Manhattan, in this brownstone near their favorite hotel, The Plaza. The Fitzgeralds have dinner sent over from there often. Other nights, they just dine on olive sandwiches and Bushmill’s. (Zelda isn’t much of a cook.)

Plaza Hotel interior

However, Scott’s bank has informed him that they can no longer lend him any money against the security of the stock he holds. He has $6,000 in bills piled up, and he will have to pay back his agent the $600 advance he got for a short story he can’t write. Scott feels he just can NOT do another flapper.

At the beginning of this month, Fitzgerald had written to ask his very understanding Scribner’s editor, Max Perkins, 36,

Can this nth advance be arranged?”

Now he is planning to write to Max again to see if he can get a loan as an advance on this second novel. Zelda wants a new squirrel coat.

Advertisement for coats with squirrel fur

Farther down Manhattan, in the Scribner’s offices, the president, Charles Scribner II, 66, is catching up on his correspondence with an old friend, Sir Shane Leslie, 35, Irish writer and diplomat, who first brought the unpublished Scott Fitzgerald to Scribner’s attention.

Earlier in the year he had written to Leslie: 

Your intro of…Fitzgerald proved to be an important one for us; This Side of Paradise has been our best seller this season and is still going strong.”

Today, Scribner writes to Leslie that he does not like the choice of title for Fitzgerald’s collection, Flappers and Philosophers, but he’s willing go with Perkins’ recommendation—the editor has usually been right about these things.

Scribner goes on to say that Fitzgerald,

is very fond of the good things of life and is disposed to enjoy it to the full while the going is good. Economy is not one of his virtues.”

“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@gypsyteacher.com.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions. Early next year I will be talking about Perkins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

My “Such Friends” presentations, The Founding of the Abbey Theatre and Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, are available to view for free on the website of PICT Classic Theatre.

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, August 16, 1920, Westport, Connecticut

It’s been a wild summer, thank God.”

Zelda Fitzgerald, 20, is writing to a friend.

Her husband, F. Scott, 23, has been spending long hours working on his second novel, The Flight of the Rocket. He has described it to his publisher, Charles Scribner, II [“Old C. S.”], 65,

How [the hero] and his beautiful young wife are wrecked on the shoals of dissipation is told in the story….I hope [it] won’t disappoint the critics who liked my first one [This Side of Paradise].”

Zelda manages to drive into New York City fairly often, with and without her husband. And carry on a bit of an affair with Smart Set magazine co-editor, George Jean Nathan, 38, whose specialties are absinthe cocktails and married women.

Mencken and Nathan

Smart Set editors H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan

Recently, Nathan had invited both Fitzgeralds to a midweek party at his West 44th Street apartment at the Royalton Hotel, so Scott could meet Nathan’s fellow editor, H. L. Mencken, 39. The young novelist was thrilled to get to know one of his literary heroes, who rarely shows up at these midtown Manhattan parties. Nathan had managed to procure three cases of bootleg gin for the occasion.

Zelda is describing what she remembers of the party to her friend,

I cut my tail on a broken bottle and can’t possibly sit on the three stitches that are in it now—The bottle was bath salts —I was boiled—The place was a tub somewhere.”

Zelda has no idea how she ended up in Nathan’s tub, but she has been known to take impromptu baths at parties before.

A few weeks ago, Scott had written to his agent,

I can’t seem to stay solvent—but I think if you can advance me $500…I’ll be able to survive the summer.”

“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 Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

This fall I will be talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

My presentation, “Such Friends”:  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, is available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre. The program begins at the 11 minute mark, and my presentation at 16 minutes.

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