“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, early November, 1921, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 153-157 Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York; and 626 Goodrich Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota

Throughout the fall, Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins, 37, has been corresponding with his star author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 25, currently back in his hometown of St. Paul with his wife awaiting the arrival of their first child.

626 Goodrich Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota

Scott had dropped off the completed manuscript of his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, at the end of April and then headed off to London and Paris with his pregnant wife, Zelda, 22.

Last month Fitzgerald, like most authors, had been complaining to Max about the minimal advertising for his first novel, last year’s hit This Side of Paradise. Perkins had encouraged him to express any of his dissatisfactions and to keep sending suggestions. He assured Scott that

the more you help us in connection with the make-up of these advertisements, the better. I think we did more advertising, very probably, than you were aware of, but it was not as effective or as plainly visible as it should have been. But we have now a man with excellent experience whom we believe will do the work with skill and vigor…I only want to ask you always to criticize freely….and to convince you that, in the case of The Beautiful and Damned, we will work the scheme out with you so that…you will feel satisfaction both with the copy and the campaign.”

Of course, say what you will about the advertising, Paradise was Scribner’s biggest success last year.

Then, while Scott was correcting page proofs, he asked Perkins for some help with details about student life at Harvard that he wanted to include. Having graduated from there in 1907 with a degree in economics, Perkins was happy to oblige.

Last month, the editor was also pleased to pass on to Fitzgerald that he had seen one of the stenographers

taking some proofs out to lunch with her…because she could not stop reading it. That is the way with all of them who are near enough to get their hands on the proofs—not only the stenographers.”

Two years ago, Perkins had to fight the Scribner’s editorial board to have them publish a novel as different as Paradise. Now the whole house is anticipating that they have another hit on their hands with Beautiful and Damned.

Today Max is writing Scott an even cheerier letter, congratulating him on the birth of his daughter, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, one week old. When “Scottie” was born, Scott telegraphed his parents,




Assuming that Zelda had wanted a girl, Perkins writes to the new father,

if you are like me,…you will need some slight consolation and having had great experience with daughters—four of them, I can forecast that you will be satisfied later on.”


In St. Paul, Scott has rented an office in town so he can work away from his recuperating wife, the hired nurse, and the screaming baby. He’s working on a satiric play.

Scottie and Zelda Fitzgerald

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

Early next year I will be talking about the Centenary of the Publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

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

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