“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July, 1922, Independent Gallery, 7a Grafton Street, Mayfair, London

The one-person show at the Independent Gallery is going well. Painter Vanessa Bell, 43, has wanted to have her own show for many years now. She was jealous when her partner, painter Duncan Grant, 37, had his first solo exhibit about two years ago. Last winter, when they were in St. Tropez together, she produced several still lifes and interiors which are included here.

7a Grafton Street

There are works by a former member of the Fauve movement, French painter Orthon Friesz, 43, in the next room. But she’s got this one all to herself.

The day after the show opened in May, she wrote to her husband, art critic Clive Bell, 40: 

I am astonished that I have already sold seven pictures and drawings—so at any rate I shan’t be out of pocket over it—[Gallery owner Percy Moore] Turner is very much pleased.”

Last month, her Bloomsbury friend, Roger Fry, 55, gave her a glowing write up in New Statesman. He felt the portrait Woman in Furs, which Vanessa painted three years ago at her East Sussex home, Charleston Farmhouse, is “perhaps the most brilliant thing in the exhibit.”

Woman in Furs by Vanessa Bell

But this month, she received an even more significant review in The Burlington Magazine from the influential painter Walter Sickert, 62: 

Instinct and intelligence and a certain scholarly tact have made her a good painter. The medium bends beneath her like a horse that knows its rider. In the canvas The Frozen Pond…the full resources of the medium in all its beauty have been called in to requisition in a manner which is nothing less than masterly.”

Sickert has praised her work before. But this feels even more satisfying than Roger’s compliments.

After all, she never slept with Sickert.

“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.

Later in the year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes 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.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“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”:  Five years ago, June, 2017, London

We interrupt the usual chronicle of what was happening 100 years ago to commemorate “Dalloway Day.”

Yes. Not “Bloomsday” which celebrates tomorrow, June 16th as the day on which James Joyce set his novel Ulysses [1922]. Virginia Woolf wasn’t specific about the date on which the events of Mrs. Dalloway [1925] take place beyond referring to it as a Wednesday in mid-June.

Below is a blog I wrote about the Dalloway Day events in London that I attended in 2017, when we were living in Birmingham UK. If you are interested in the celebrations being held this year, click here.

“Such Friends”: Dalloway Day, Blogging Woolf, and me

I said I would buy the lunch myself.

As I recommend to all my visiting American friends, when in the UK, time your train trip so you can take along some lunch from M&S Simply Food, ubiquitous in train stations here. My preference is carrot sticks with reduced fat humous and salmon pasta salad. Yum.

So I stocked up and took off for London a few Saturdays ago to take part in my first “Dalloway Day,” commemorating the day on which Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway, is set. The Irish all over the world have been celebrating “Bloomsday” based on James Joyce’s Ulysses for over 50 years. Now it’s Virginia’s turn.

Original cover of Mrs. Dalloway, designed by Vanessa Bell

This year, the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain is sponsoring this day, which includes a walk through some of the novel’s settings, a discussion of the book, and a 1920s party at the Bloomsbury Waterstones. I signed up for the whole package.

On one of the hottest days of the year, I took the train from Birmingham New Street to Euston station, and then the Underground to the appointed meeting place, outside the Regent’s Park Tube.

Waiting for the Underground lift, literally a breath of fresh air came wafting through. The woman next to me, about my age, said,

Oh! That feels great. It’s so hot.”

I nodded in agreement.

Watching her walk up the stairs in front of me, I realized she was wearing a blue flower print dress and lovely straw hat. Aha. Another Dalloway Day participant, I surmised.

As we reached the street at the top, we both laughed. Standing just a few feet away was a gaggle of Dalloway Day fans. About 20 women “of a certain age” in flowered dresses or skirts, straw hats—they all looked just like me! No trouble finding this group.

The walk was led by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, who obviously was a lot more familiar with the book and Virginia than I am, having read it years ago as part of my research. I actually have much more vivid memories of the Vanessa Redgrave film, which I’ve used in my presentations.

Jean was dressed in the full Dalloway, including a vintage dress and hat, complemented by darling low-heeled black shoes with straps. Very 1920s. She’d obviously done this many times before.

Jean pointed out that there is debate as to when Dalloway Day actually is. Whereas Joyce clearly set Ulysses on 16th June, 1904, the day of his first date with his eventual wife, Nora Barnacle, Woolf‘s novel says “mid-June.” However, by lining up events in the book with cricket games and the Ascot races, most scholars have settled on the third Wednesday in June. But—this year, it’s Saturday, 17th June. So more of us can come.

The unusually warm weather—it’s actually been hot; Miami hot, not just England hot—didn’t slow us down a bit. After a stop in Regent’s Park, Jeanne walked us over to Fitzroy Square, where Virginia lived from 1907 until 1911 with her brother Adrian. Their sister Vanessa had married art critic Clive Bell and kicked the siblings out when the newlyweds took over the Gordon Square house, where we headed next.

My own Bloomsbury walk actually takes the reverse route, starting in Gordon Square and then over to Fitzroy Square.

Your host leading a walk in Fitzroy Square where Virginia lived.

At Waterstone’s we sat in a circle, sipping refreshing flavoured ice water. Jean and Maggie Humm of the Woolf Society led us through an interesting discussion of the book. My research was on the relationships among the creative people in the Bloomsbury group, but wasn’t focused on their works—books, paintings, etc. This discussion brought new insights about the connections for me to incorporate into my future presentations.

And I learned that there is a website that maps all the walks of the characters in the book—Clarissa, Peter, Septimus and Rezia—showing how they interconnect.

For the 1920s party, I was planning to switch to Dorothy Parker mode, and so had tucked my red feather boa into my travel bag. But not many others were quite so dedicated to the flapper look, so I decided to stay in Bloomsbury garb.

*****

Just this past week, I had another tax-deductible reason to go to London. Paula Maggio, better known to many of you as “Blogging Woolf,” was visiting from the States to attend the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. We made plans to meet up and she wanted to try the Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel. We had a fabulous lunch of pasta and prosecco, treated ourselves to dessert, and took a peek at the 1920s-style Bloomsbury Club downstairs.

Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel, photo by Paula Maggio

Paula had also heard about a life-size statue of Virginia at Kings College, where Woolf had studied classics in her early days. A bit of Googling and walking led us to the Woolf Building. A sign said it was locked due to increased security, but when the guard saw our noses pressed against the glass, he let us in.

There she was, encased behind plexiglass, big as life, holding a copy of A Room of One’s Own, in a wardrobe that was, as Paula said, “a closet of her own.”

Surrounded by large quotes from Virginia’s works, and photos of her, it makes a fitting entrance for the College’s School of English.

Virginia Woolf statue, Kings College, photo by Paula Maggio

I would definitely add both of these places—Dalloway Terrace and the Kings College statue—to my Bloomsbury walk.

Heading back towards Euston station, Paula and I stopped by Woburn Walk, where the Irish poet William Butler Yeats lived at the same time that Virginia and her siblings were moving into Gordon Square, just a few blocks away.

These intersections of time, place and characters are what interest me most. I can picture an aerial view of north London in 1907, as the Irish poet walks past the Stephens sisters, on their way over to enjoy a stroll through Regent’s Park.

The usual blog series that appears here, “Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago…, is the basis for the book 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 publication of T. S. Eliot’s 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 18-19, 1922, Hotel Majestic, Avenue Kleber; and 44 rue de l’Amiral-Hamelin, Paris

THE AFTER-THEATRE DINNER PARTY:

A Teleplay

SFX:  Renard by Stravinsky

Long shot of the Paris Opera House. The camera moves in to focus on the poster for tonight’s performance: 

Then a tight shot of the wording:

RENARD

Première mondiale! Musique et livret d’Igor Stravinsky  Chorégraphie de Bronislava Nijinsky

Interprété par Les Ballets Russes, sous la direction de Serge Diaghilev

Réalisé par Ernest Ansermet  Avec des décors conçus par Pablo Picasso

The camera pulls back and takes us through the streets of the Right Bank to the entrance of the Hotel Majestic on Avenue Kleber.

We follow the camera inside and up the stairs to a private room. Stravinsky’s music is drowned out by the sounds of about 35 or 40 partygoers, formally dressed, chatting and laughing. Waiters are getting ready to serve dinner.

Speaking in front of the room is Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev, 50.

DIAGHILEV:  Thank you to our hosts for the evening, Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Schiff, who have brought together tonight the four living artists Mr. Schiff most admires [gesturing to each]:  Monsieur Picasso, Monsieur Stravinsky, Monsieur Joyce [looks around the room] Monsieur Joyce? No? And Monsieur Proust [looks around the room again] Monsieur Proust?!

As he is speaking, the camera moves around the table to give close-ups of some of the dinner guests:  Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, 40, with a Catalan sash tied around his head like a turban; his wife Olga, 30; French director Ernest Ansermet, 38; French composer Erik Satie, just turned 56; Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, 39; English patron Sydney Schiff, 53; his wife Violet, 48; and English art critic Clive Bell, 40.

DIAGHILEV:  I hope you all enjoy the dinner.

Waiters begin serving. Outside, bells chime midnight.

Camera moves around the room showing the partygoers enjoying the food and each other’s company.

Fade to the same scene showing most of the food eaten and waiters slowly clearing a few plates and starting to serve coffee.

The camera settles on the door to the room and in staggers Irish author James Joyce, 40, looking confused, poorly dressed and a bit drunk. Sydney Schiff motions for a waiter to put a chair next to him, and Joyce sits in it. He puts his head in his hands, and a waiter sets a glass of champagne in front of him.

Panning back to the door, we see Marcel Proust, 50, enter, dressed in evening clothes and wearing white gloves. A chair is placed between Sydney Schiff and Stravinsky; Proust sits there. A waiter brings him some food and drink.

PROUST, turning to Stravinsky:  Monsieur Stravinsky, doubtless you admire Beethoven?

STRAVINSKY, barely looking at him:  I detest Beethoven.

PROUST:  But, cher maitre, surely those late sonatas and quartets…

STRAVINSKY:  Worse than all the others.

Ansermet, sitting nearby, leans over to talk to both of them to avoid having this discussion become a fight.

Snoring is heard, and the camera moves to focus on Joyce, who has nodded off.

Hearing the snoring, a posh woman seated next to Clive Bell tugs on his sleeve and whispers in his ear. The two get up, put on their coats and leave together. Sydney Schiff gets up to see them out.

As soon as they leave, Joyce wakes up and Proust leans over to talk to him:

PROUST:  Ah, Monsieur Joyce, you know the Princess…

JOYCE:  No, Monsieur.

PROUST:  Ah. You know the Countess…

JOYCE:  No, Monsieur.

PROUST:  Then you know Madame…

JOYCE:  No, Monsieur.

The camera moves away but we hear the two men still chatting.

People start pushing back their chairs, gathering their coats, getting ready to leave.

Proust turns to Sydney and Violet Schiff, asking if they would like to come to his apartment.

The three leave together, with Joyce following closely behind.

Outside the hotel, a car is waiting and all four wedge themselves in.

The camera follows the car just a few blocks to 44 rue de l’Amiral-Hamelin.

Joyce starts to get out of the car after the Schiffs and Proust, but Proust gestures for him to stay in and signals to the driver to continue on. Proust heads for his building while Sydney gives the driver specific instructions and then turns with his wife to follow Proust inside.

Inside the apartment we see Proust and the Schiffs happily chatting and drinking champagne as the camera pulls back to reveal the sun coming up outside the window.

FIN

“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 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 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, mid-April, 1922, Monk’s House, Rodmell, East Sussex, England

Novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, is sitting in a comfy chair in the Woolfs’ house in the country with a blue-bound book in her lap.

Virginia is s l o w l y cutting each page of the brand-new copy of Ulysses which she ordered from her London bookseller. £4. Not cheap.

James Joyce’s Ulysses

She knows she has to actually read the book, not just handle it. She did read the first eight chapters earlier this year, in magazine excerpts. And then re-read the first four.

Then put it down and told herself she would definitely finish it. Soon.

Her husband Leonard, 41, jumped right in and started reading. Ironically, the manuscript of Ulysses was submitted to them a few years ago, to be published by their own Hogarth Press. They declined. Too big a print job, they explained.

Virginia and Leonard Woolf

Virginia has written to her brother-in-law, art critic Clive Bell, also 40: 

Mr. Joyce…I have him on the table…Leonard is already 30 pages deep…I look, and sip, and shudder.”

After all, she’s been ill. Bad case of the flu. And, despite that, she has been working on a long short story—“Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street”—that she might send to their friend, American ex-pat Tom Eliot, 33, for his new magazine. If she has it done in a few weeks.

Eliot. He’s one of the ones who has been praising Joyce and his latest book. Sometimes Virginia thinks Eliot likes everyone else’s writing better than hers.

She’ll start reading it again if the rain keeps up.

“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 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, February 14, 1922, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

About 10 days ago, novelist Virginia Woolf, just turned 40 and still recovering from a second bout of influenza, wrote in her diary,

I have taken it into my head that I shan’t live till seventy…Suppose, I said to myself the other day[,] this pain over my heart wrung me out like a dish cloth & left me dead?…[Last summer I had] two whole months rubbed out.”

Hogarth House

Now her husband, Leonard, 41, has moved her bed downstairs to the living room, which is less lonely for her and more convenient for both of them. She’s reading more—Moby Dick and a biography of Lord Salisbury—writing a little and receiving visitors. Including her brother-in-law, Clive Bell, 40, whom she describes as “all bottom and a little flaxen wig,”

Clive Bell by Roger Fry

But Virginia’s temperature has been elevated at consistently 99.5 degrees, and she has been feeling quite competitive with her friend, fellow novelist Katherine Mansfield, 33. The Saturday Westminster Gazette is serializing Mansfield’s short story “The Garden Party” and a collection of her stories will soon be coming out as a book.

Today, Virginia writes in her diary,

K. M. [Mansfield] bursts upon the world in glory next week…I have to hold over [my novel] Jacob’s Room…til October; & I somehow fear that by that time it will appear to me sterile acrobatics…[I am feeling] all dissipated & invalid-ish…What a twelve months it has been for writing!—& I at the prime of life, with little creatures in my head which won’t exist if I don’t let them out!”

“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. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Our celebration of the belated 148th birthday of my fellow Pittsburgher Gertrude Stein will be this Thursday, February 17, at 7 pm, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill. You can register for this free event, or sign up to watch it via Zoom, here

At the end of the month I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at 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 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, August 7 and 8, 1921, Charleston Farmhouse, East Sussex, England; and Monk’s House, Rodmell, England

Art critic Clive Bell, 39, is at Charleston Farmhouse which he shares with his estranged wife, painter Vanessa Bell, 42, their two sons, Julian, 13, Quentin, about to turn 11, and assorted other family members and lovers.

Clive is writing to his current mistress, Mary Hutchinson, 32, back in London:

Nothing could exceed the monotony of life at Charleston except the pleasantness of that monotony…One comes down to breakfast as much before 10 as possible, hopes for letters, kills a wasp, smokes a pipe, contemplates nature, writes til lunch, reads the Times, goes for a walk, drinks tea, reads Proust, shaves, writes [a letter]…dines, lights a fire, smokes a cheroot, reads the Grenville memoirs, smokes a pipe, reads Proust, goes to bed. Sometimes it rains.”

Mrs. St. John Hutchinson by Vanessa Bell, 1915

*****

About 10 miles away, at Monk’s House in Rodmell, Vanessa’s sister, novelist Virginia Woolf, 39, is quite unwell and has been losing weight. The sales of her latest book, Monday or Tuesday, are good, and she has started sleeping a bit better, without medication. But her current doctors have her on horrible “milk cures,” which she can’t abide.

Virginia has been unable to do any writing or see any guests for about two months, and confides to her diary,

What a gap! Two whole months rubbed out—These, this morning, the first words I have written—to call writing—for 60 days.”

Virginia Woolf by Vanessa Bell, 1912

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available in print and e-book format 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, 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”: Four years ago, June, 2017, London

We interrupt our usual chronicle of what was happening 100 years ago to commemorate “Dalloway Day.”

Not “Bloomsday” which celebrates June 16th as the day on which James Joyce set his novel Ulysses [1922]. But the third Wednesday in June which is the day on which Virginia Woolf set her novel Mrs. Dalloway [1925]. This year, they happen to be the same day.

Below is a blog I wrote about the Dalloway Day events in London that I attended in 2017. If you are interested in the celebrations being held this year, click here. I particularly recommend the panel this evening featuring my “such friends” Emily Midorikawa and Emma Clair Sweeney, talking about Woolf’s friendship with Katherine Mansfield.

Such Friends”:  Dalloway Day, Blogging Woolf, and me

I said I would buy the lunch myself.

As I recommend to all my visiting American friends, when in the UK, time your train trip so you can take along some lunch from M&S Simply Food, ubiquitous in train stations here. My preference is carrot sticks with reduced fat humous and salmon pasta salad. Yum.

So I stocked up and took off for London a few Saturdays ago to take part in my first “Dalloway Day,” commemorating the day on which Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway, is set. The Irish all over the world have been celebrating “Bloomsday” based on James Joyce’s Ulysses for over 50 years. Now it’s Virginia’s turn.

Original cover of Mrs. Dalloway, designed by Vanessa Bell

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain is sponsoring this day, which includes a walk through some of the novel’s settings, a discussion of the book, and a 1920s party at the Bloomsbury Waterstones. I signed up for the whole package.

On one of the hottest days of the year, I took the train from Birmingham New Street to Euston station, and then the Underground to the appointed meeting place, outside the Regent’s Park Tube.

Waiting for the Underground lift, literally a breath of fresh air came wafting through. The woman next to me, about my age, said,

Oh! That feels great. It’s so hot.”

I nodded in agreement.

Watching her walk up the stairs in front of me, I realized she was wearing a blue flower print dress and lovely straw hat. Aha. Another Dalloway Day participant, I surmised.

As we reached the street at the top, we both laughed. Standing just a few feet away was a gaggle of Dalloway Day fans. About 20 women “of a certain age” in flowered dresses or skirts, straw hats—they all looked just like me! No trouble finding this group.

The walk was led by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, who obviously was a lot more familiar with the book and Virginia than I am, having read it years ago as part of my research. I actually have much more vivid memories of the Vanessa Redgrave film, which I’ve used in my presentations.

Jean was dressed in the full Dalloway, including a vintage dress and hat, complemented by darling low-heeled black shoes with straps. Very 1920s. She’d obviously done this many times before.

Jean pointed out that there is debate as to when Dalloway Day actually is. Whereas Joyce clearly set Ulysses on 16th June, 1904, the day of his first date with his eventual wife, Nora Barnacle, Woolf ‘s novel says “mid-June.” However, by lining up events in the book with cricket games and the Ascot races, most scholars have settled on the third Wednesday in June. But—this year, we are celebrating on Saturday, 17th June. So more of us can come.

The unusually warm weather—it’s actually been hot; Miami hot, not just England hot—didn’t slow us down a bit. After a stop in Regent’s Park, Jeanne walked us over to Fitzroy Square, where Virginia lived from 1907 until 1911 with her brother Adrian. Their sister Vanessa had married art critic Clive Bell and kicked the siblings out when the newlyweds took over the Gordon Square house, where we headed next.

My own Bloomsbury walk actually takes the reverse route, starting in Gordon Square and then over to Fitzroy Square.

Here’s me on one of my walks pointing out the house at #29 where Virginia and Adrian lived:

At Waterstone’s, we sat in a circle, sipping refreshing flavored ice water. Jean and Maggie Humm of the Woolf Society led us through an interesting discussion of the book. My research was on the relationships among the creative people in the Bloomsbury group, but wasn’t focused on their works—books, paintings, etc. This discussion brought new insights about the connections for me to incorporate into my future presentations.

And I learned that there is a website that maps all the walks of the characters in the book—Clarissa, Peter, Septimus and Rezia—showing how they interconnect.

For the 1920s party, I was planning to switch to Dorothy Parker mode, and so had tucked my red feather boa into my travel bag. But not many others were quite so dedicated to the flapper look, so I decided to stay in Bloomsbury garb.

*****

This past week, I had another tax-deductible reason to go to London. Paula Maggio, better known to many of you as “Blogging Woolf”’ was visiting from the States to attend the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. We made plans to meet up and she wanted to try the Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel. We had a fabulous lunch of pasta and prosecco, treated ourselves to dessert, and took a peek at the 1920s-style Bloomsbury Club downstairs.

Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel, photo by Paula Maggio

Paula had also heard about a life-size statue of Virginia at Kings College, where Woolf had studied classics in her early days. A bit of Googling and walking led us to the Woolf Building. A sign said it was locked due to increased security, but when the guard saw our noses pressed against the glass, he let us in.

There she was, encased behind plexiglass, big as life, holding a copy of A Room of One’s Own, in a wardrobe that was, as Paula said, “a closet of her own.”

Surrounded by large quotes from Virginia’s works, and photos of her, it makes a fitting entrance for the College’s School of English.

Virginia Woolf statue, Kings College, photo by Paula Maggio

I would definitely add both of these places—Dalloway Terrace and the Kings College statue—to my Bloomsbury walk. Here’s a review of the restaurant by one of last year’s conference participants..

Heading back towards Euston station, Paula and I stopped by Woburn Walk, where the poet William Butler Yeats lived at the same time that Virginia and her siblings were moving into Gordon Square, just a few blocks away.

These intersections of time, place and characters are what interest me most. I can picture an aerial view of north London in 1907, as the Irish poet walks past the Stephens sisters, on their way over to enjoy a stroll through Regent’s Park.

Might make an interesting structure for a biography. Watch this space.

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

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

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

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.