“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, early August, 1921, en route to London; and back in Paris

Irish-American lawyer John Quinn, 51, is sailing back to New York, via London.

On this European trip he has concentrated on just Paris—not Ireland, not England, which he visited in the past few years. And his focus has paid off.

Travel Guide, London-Paris

He sent his ambassador [and lover], Mrs. Jeanne Foster, 42, ahead to arrange meetings with painters and their dealers.

She did a magnificent job. As a result, he’s coming back with arrangements to buy a sculpture and three paintings by Spaniard Pablo Picasso, 39, as well as works by Romanian painter and sculptor, Constantin Brancusi, 45, and French painters Andre Derain, 41, and Andre de Segonzac, 37.

More important to Quinn, he has developed personal friendships with the artists and their dealers.

John Quinn and Constantin Brancusi

Quinn also visited the English-language bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, owned by American ex-patriate Sylvia Beach, 34. He had advised her to move from her “shabby” location and Quinn approves of her new site on rue de l’Odeon. From here she plans to publish the monumental novel Ulysses by Irish ex-pat James Joyce, 39. Quinn is supporting Joyce financially by buying up the manuscript as it is written. Support the artist as well as the art.

Now Quinn is going back to the law office he thinks of as a prison.

*****

American novelist Sherwood Anderson, 44, and his wife Tennessee, 47, are heading back to his New York job, half-heartedly doing public relations for an independent movie company, via London.

His first trip to Europe has been what he’d dreamt of. After he visited Shakespeare and Company, Beach introduced him to Joyce and they had a few lunches together. Unfortunately, to get the conversation started the first time, Anderson asked Joyce what he thought of Ireland. Bad move.

Anderson told Beach he will spread the word among his American literary friends about her upcoming publication of Ulysses. Sherwood gave Sylvia a list of names and as many addresses as he could remember for her to use to solicit subscriptions. He even added personal notes to the prospectuses she is sending out.

Sherwood thinks of the job waiting for him in New York as a joke. He still has some advertising accounts to bring in income, but he’s not in a rush to go back to Chicago.

*****

American writer Edmund Wilson, 26, is heading back to his New York job, managing editor of Vanity Fair, via London. He enjoyed his time in Paris these past few weeks but doesn’t think he really got a feel for the city.

Vanity Fair, August 1921

Wilson spent most of his time tracking down and trying to lure back his former lover from New York City, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 29, living in Paris as Vanity Fair’s European editor. Wilson has pushed and published her work in the magazine. But it’s clear that Millay has moved on from Edmund. To some British newspaperman.

Last month Wilson wrote to one of the magazine’s other editors,

I found [Millay] in a very first-rate hotel on the Left Bank and better dressed, I suppose, than she has ever been before in her life. You were right in guessing that she was well cared for as she had never been before…[She] told me she wanted to settle down to a new life:  She was tired of breaking hearts and spreading havoc.”

*****

American novelist Sinclair Lewis, 36, is heading to Paris from London.

Last year his sixth novel, Main Street, was a bestseller. However, he lost out on the Pulitzer Prize to The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, 59. Apparently, Main Street, with its focus on the hypocrisy in a small Midwest town, didn’t fit the jury’s criteria of a novel “which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life.”

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

Lewis is bringing along another American writer whom he has just met in London, Harold Stearns, 30, whose book America and the Young Intellectual is coming out this year. Lewis plans to spend only a few days in Paris, but Stearns is going to stay on in Montparnasse, on the Left Bank.

*****

Over on the Right Bank, American composer Virgil Thomson, 24, is settling into Paris and his temporary residence at the home of a French family on the rue de Provence.

At the beginning of the month, Virgil had bid a not-too-sad farewell to his fellow students in the Harvard Glee Club. The group has just completed a triumphant tour of France, with Virgil as accompanist. He was also the understudy for the conductor, and actually got a chance to step into the maestro’s shoes one night. Now they are all heading back to America.

Except Virgil. With his well-earned scholarship, he is going to stay here in Paris for a whole year.

Virgil has, of course, already been to Shakespeare and Company in rue de l’Odeon and signed up for Beach’s lending library. He is planning to move closer to the studio of Nadia Boulanger, 34, with whom he will be studying composition. His new residence at 20 rue de Berneis, a 10-minute walk from Boulanger, is in a less than desirable neighborhood. The street, and the building, are overwhelmed with what Virgil refers to as “daughters of joy.”

Nadia Boulanger’s studio, 36 rue Ballu

“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 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.

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.

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

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, July, 1921, en route to and in Paris

Everyone’s coming to Paris…

On board ship, steaming from the United States to France, Irish-American attorney John Quinn, 51, is finally starting to relax.

Leaving his successful law office behind to go on this holiday feels as though he has been let out of prison.

On previous European trips Quinn has focused on visiting with his friends in Dublin and London. This time he is going to spend the whole time in Paris. Specifically meeting with the artists and writers whom he has been supporting financially for the past few years.

Back in May he arranged through the secretary of state to get a passport for his representative [and lover] Mrs. Jeanne Foster, 42, to precede him and arrange meetings with art dealers and artists.

In particular he is looking forward to in-person dinners with…

Constantin Brancusi, 45. Quinn became familiar with the Romanian sculptor’s work when he exhibited in the 1913 Armory Show, which Quinn helped to organize. Quinn has bought two versions of Brancusi’s Mlle. Pogany, and keeps some of his works in the foyer of his Central Park West apartment. As Quinn has written to the grateful artist earlier this year,

1 can’t have too much of a beautiful thing.”

Mlle. Pogany by Constantin Brancusi

Gwen John, 45. Quinn is her number one buyer. He bought one of the many versions of a portrait the Welsh painter did of Mere Marie Poussepin, the founder of the order of nuns Ms. John lives next door to in a Paris suburb. Quinn much prefers her work to that of her brother, painter Augustus John, 43, whom he stopped supporting a few years ago after a dispute.

One version of Mere Marie Poussepin by Gwen John

James Joyce, 39. Quinn has been buying up the manuscript of Joyce’s novel Ulysses as the ex-pat Irishman works on it. And he defended [pro bono, of course] the American magazine, The Little Review, which dared to publish “obscene” excerpts of the novel. Quinn is quite proud that he got the publishers off with a $100 fine and no jail sentence.

Now it’s time to put legal issues behind him and enjoy Paris.

*****

Scofield Thayer, 31, is in Paris en route to Vienna. He feels he can continue his position as editor and co-owner of the New York-based The Dial literary magazine while he is living in Europe. The international postal service and Western Union should make it easy enough for him to work remotely.

The foreign editor of The Dial, American ex-patriate poet Ezra Pound, 35, is hosting Thayer for his few days in Paris. Pound came to visit him at his hotel, the Hotel Continental on rue de Castiglione, and brought along another American poet, E. E. Cummings, 26, whom Scofield had known at Harvard. Cummings recently returned to Paris and is working on a novel about his experiences as an ambulance driver here during the Great War.

Hotel Continental on rue de Castiglione

Most interesting, however, was the visit Pound arranged to another American writer, Gertrude Stein, 47, and her partner Alice B. Toklas, 44, at 27 rue de Fleurus. They had just met one of The Dial’s main contributors, Sherwood Anderson, 44, author of the successful collection of stories, Winesburg, Ohio. Stein and Toklas discussed with Thayer how impressed they are with Anderson, who is a big fan of Gertrude’s work.

Now Scofield is ready to move on to the next leg of his trip:  To Vienna and psychoanalysis treatment with Sigmund Freud, 65.

*****

Vanity Fair managing editor Edmund Wilson, 26, after staying a few days in a hotel, has moved to this pension at 16 rue de Four.

16 rue du Four

Since arriving in Paris last month, Wilson has seen the object of his affections, American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 29, a few times. But it is clear to him that she is no longer interested. Edna has told him about her new lover, “a big red-haired British journalist,” as Wilson writes to his friend back at Vanity Fair, John Peale Bishop, also 29. He tells Bishop that Edna

looks well…and has a new distinction of dress, but she can no longer intoxicate me with her beauty, or throw bombs into my soul.”

Time to move on.

*****

Over at the bookstore Shakespeare & Co. on rue Dupuytren, American owner Sylvia Beach, 34, has said goodbye to her new friend, novelist Anderson, whom she introduced to Stein and Toklas earlier this summer. He and his wife are headed to London and then back home to Chicago.

Sylvia also feels it’s time to leave Paris, but just for a bit. She and her partner Adrienne Monnier, 29, are planning a short holiday. But first Sylvia wants to settle her bookshop in its new location.

“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 summer I am talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at the University of Pittsburgh. In the fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

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.

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

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, June 22, 1921, Left Bank, Paris

American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 28, is having dinner with two of her friends visiting from New York City, hit novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, and his wife, Zelda, 20, on their first trip to Europe.

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s passport

They want to meet up with Scott’s friend from his days at Princeton University, Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 26, just arrived in Paris from New York.

“Poor Bunny,” as she calls him, had eagerly found Millay as soon as he showed up two days ago. Edna made sure that, when Bunny came to her hotel room, on the rue de l’Universite, she was dressed in a demure black dress, at her typewriter, surrounded by neatly stacked manuscripts, evidence that she is indeed working. After all, Millay is living here as the foreign correspondent for Vanity Fair, thanks to Bunny, managing editor of the magazine.

Edmund Wilson

Since she has been here, Edna has only written to Bunny once, sending him one of her poems. He must know that their relationship is over; he’s been seeing someone else, an actress. But it’s pretty clear he came to Paris mostly to meet up with Millay.

As they chatted, Edna started feeling more comfortable, so she confided in Bunny that she is planning to marry Englishman George Slocombe, 27, special correspondent for the London Daily Herald. Well, as soon as he divorces his wife and kids in the suburbs. She wants to move to England with him. Edna has explained to George that Bunny is “just a friend” from New York.

Meanwhile, Bunny has moved from his Right Bank [i.e., posh] hotel to a pension just a few blocks away from her hotel, on this side of the River Seine [i.e., funky].

Scott and Zelda are staying on the Right Bank. They say they’ll try to find Bunny. Edna is in no hurry.

The Fitzgeralds haven’t been enjoying this trip. England. Italy. France—They’ve been disappointed all along. Zelda has been sick because she’s pregnant. Now they are looking forward to going home, albeit via England again. They might move to Zelda’s home state of Alabama next. They feel that they are done with Europe.

Edna feels as though she is just getting started.

“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 print and e-book versions. 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 Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book formats.

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, mid-February, 1921, New York City, New York

Edmund Wilson, 25, managing editor of Vanity Fair, was pleased when his friend from his Princeton University years, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, asked him to edit a draft of his second novel, The Flight of the Rocket.

Edmund Wilson article in Vanity Fair

At first Wilson felt that the story was a bit silly, just a re-hashing of Fitzgerald’s dramatic summer spent fighting with his new wife, Zelda, 20, in Westport, Connecticut.

But now that he has gotten farther into the manuscript, Wilson is beginning to see that Fitzgerald’s writing has matured and shows more emotional power than his previous fiction. Might want to change that title, though.

Earlier this month, Fitzgerald had written to his Scribner’s editor, Maxwell Perkins, 36, to assure him that he is “working like the deuce” on the novel, whose publication date has been postponed a few times already.

Literary Help and Encouragement

Dedication page of Fitzgerald’s second novel

Fitzgerald also mentioned that his income taxes are due and he’s about $1,000 short, signing the letter

Inevitable Beggar.”

Perkins wrote back to tell him that he is still owed a couple of thousand dollars in royalties from his hit first novel, This Side of Paradise.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I—1920 is available on Amazon in print and e-book formats. 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. Later this month I will be talking about Perkins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York 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.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, January, 1921, Hotel des Saints-Peres, 65 rue des Saints-Peres, Paris

Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 28, has just arrived at her hotel in Paris. She will be staying here a few months, as the newly appointed foreign correspondent for American Vanity Fair magazine.

Hotel des Saints-Peres

The time had come to leave New York. She is tired of her persistent beau, Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 25, managing editor of Vanity Fair, who had not only published her poems but also promoted her as

the Most Distinguished American poet of the Younger Generation.”

This past year, Vincent, as her family knows her, has won a few prizes, scored a big hit with her poetry collection, but also had an abortion. She definitely needs a change and is looking forward to starting this great job. Her contract requires her to submit two prose pieces to Vanity Fair each month.

Just before she left New York, Vincent received a letter from her father, whom her mother had kicked out over 20 years ago. Dad had heard about her new job and wrote to give his estranged daughter his idea of encouragement. He knew she would be

a great success at work of that kind [but it is] a big undertaking for such a little girl.”

Gee thanks, Dad.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, soon to be published by K. Donnelly Communications on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

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.

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. Early this year I will be talking about Perkins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway 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.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, December 20, 1920, West 12th Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York

Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 28, is writing to her mother in Massachusetts, who is still lingering in the Cape Cod cottage they shared for a time this summer.

Just last week, Edna had gone to the wedding of her sister Kathleen, 23, here in New York at the Hotel Brevort. Her sister looked uncomfortable; probably because she was regretting giving up a modelling opportunity to marry this guy. Edna had been feeling weak; mostly because of the botched abortion she had a few weeks before.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

But Edna just tells her mother that she had bronchitis and been

quite sick…[from] a small nervous breakdown.”

The good news is that Vanity Fair, where Edna has been having her poems published quite regularly, is going to pay her a good price for the stories she has been selling to rival magazine Ainslee’s under her pseudonym, Nancy Boyd. Ainslee’s had offered to double her fee if they could use her real name, but she wants to keep a distance between that popular trash she writes and her more serious poetry.

Ainslee’s magazine, April 1920

Better yet, Vanity Fair is making her a foreign correspondent and sending her to Paris in the beginning of the new year. She writes to her mother that she desperately needs to get away from New York.

She tells one of her beaus, Vanity Fair managing editor Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 25,

I’ll be 30 in a minute!”

Edna finishes the letter to her mother and starts packing a trunk for France:  Her blue silk umbrella. A pair of velvet galoshes with fur trim. And, of course, her portable Corona typewriter.

“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.

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

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. Early next year I will be talking about Perkins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway 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.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, November, 1920, West 12th Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York

Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 28, is quite pleased with herself.

When she came back to Manhattan after spending this summer in Cape Cod with her mother, sisters, and various visitors, she discovered that she had become famous.

Millay had won a $100 prize for a poem (and spent it all on clothes). Her poetry collection, A Few Figs from Thistles, is in all the bookstores’ windows.

“First Fig” from A Few Figs from Thistles

And this month, one of her beaus, Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 25, has given her poetry a whole page in Vanity Fair, where he is managing editor, calling her

the Most Distinguished American poet of the Younger Generation.”

In the issue she is squeezed between “The Anarchists of Taste” by Wilson and “The Art of Living as a Feminine Institution” by another Vanity Fair editor, John Peale Bishop, 28. Cozy.

Vanity Fair, November, 1920

As she had indeed been squeezed between the two on her daybed in this apartment just recently. Edna insisted on assigning John her upper half, and Bunny the lower. He agreed that he had the

better share.”

However, ironically, after having recently lent a birth control manual to her sister’s boyfriend, Edna now thinks she might be pregnant.

“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.

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

This fall I am talking about writers’ salons in Paris and New York after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at 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 Kindle versions. Early next year I will be talking about Perkins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the Osher 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July, 1920, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Greenwich Village, New York City, New York

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 28, checking her new copy of the July issue of Vanity Fair, thinks, That sure paid off.

At a Greenwich Village party back in April she had met Princeton grad Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 25. He was immediately entranced by her bobbed red hair and impromptu poetry recital. She wasn’t that interested—until she found out he was the new managing editor of Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair cover Jul 1920

Vanity Fair, July 1920

Shortly after, Edna had taken his virginity—well, he had offered it. Then she took off for Cape Cod for the summer, to stay in this borrowed cottage with her mother and sisters, without heat or electricity. She is happy banging out sonnets on her portable Corona typewriter.

Millay has had poems published before, in smaller magazines such as Ainslee’s and Current Opinion, and her anti-war play Aria da Capo has been produced by the Provincetown Players.

But thanks to her suitor Bunny, she now has a poem in Vanity Fair, “Dead Music—An Elegy,” accompanied by a plug for her play and a squib describing her as

one of the most distinctive personalities in modern American poetry.”

Thanks for that, Bunny.

Edna sees this as quite a step up, with her work nestled in between pieces by G. K. Chesterton, 46, Stephen Leacock, 50, and, oh, yes, John Peale Bishop, 28. He’s coming to visit soon for a few days. But she plans to have him leave just before Bunny arrives.

*****

Back in Greenwich Village, Egmont Arens, 32, owner of the Washington Square Bookshop on West Eighth Street, is setting out the July Vanity Fair along with the July-August issue of The Little Review.

Founded and edited by Margaret Anderson, 33, and Jane Heap, 36, for the past six years The Little Review has been publishing the most cutting-edge writers in America and abroad. Their foreign editor, ex-patriate American poet Ezra Pound, 34, has introduced them to the latest developments in literature from Europe.

Thanks to Pound, for the past two years The Little Review has been publishing excerpts from the latest work in progress, Ulysses, by the Irish novelist James Joyce, 38.

However, the authorities don’t agree with Anderson and Heap’s enthusiasm for contemporary literature. Last year, and again this January, issues of the magazine carrying the “Cyclops” chapter of Ulysses were seized and burned by the US Post Office.

Since then, however, they have been left alone. March issue, no problem. April issue, no problem. Even the May-June issue, with the first two parts of Joyce’s “Nausicaa” episode, had been published, sold and mailed with no interference.

Little Review 3 issues with Nausicaa

Three issues of The Little Review containing the “Nausicaa” episode of Ulysses

This July-August issue contains the third part of “Nausicaa.” Pound admits that, before sending the manuscript on to The Little Review,

I did myself dry [Stephen] Bloom’s shirt,”

removing Joyce’s reference to a semen stain.

We’ll see if this issue will be left alone by the censors, thinks Arens. 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.

In the fall I will be talking about writers’ salons before and after the Great War in Ireland, England, France and America in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at 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.

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.

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, Spring, 1920, offices of Life magazine, New York City, New York

New drama critic Robert Benchley, 30, is rested from his recent family vacation and ready to start his latest job.

For the past year or so, Benchley was managing editor of Vanity Fair magazine. But when his two friends and critics, Dorothy Parker, 26, and Robert Sherwood, just turned 24, were let go earlier this year, he decided that the job wasn’t worth having. Benchley was replaced by nervous Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 24, whom he considered to be a scab. But he has agreed to train him anyway.

Robert Sherwood

Robert Sherwood

Parker and Benchley had jumped right into free-lancing, and even rented a tiny office together for $30 a month, above the Metropolitan Opera House at Broadway and 39th Street.

One cubic foot less of space and it would have constituted adultery,”

Parker said.

The free-lance offers have come pouring in, for both of them. Benchley is still doing his “Books and Other Things” column three times a week for the New York World, for the same money as his full-time Vanity Fair job paid.

But Benchley has a wife and two sons—aged 5 and 1—up in Scarsdale. So when Sherwood  recently became associate editor of humor magazine Life, circulation 250,000, and offered Benchley a full-time drama critic position, he jumped at it. $100 a week—great!

Life mag May 6 1920

Life, May 6, 1920

And his wife understands that he will have to stay in town with Parker and Sherwood most nights to see plays. He is keeping his formal clothes in the office.

Back in their old office, Dottie has put a sign on the door that says “MEN.”

“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.

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.

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, early April, 1920, Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, New York City, New York

Well, this should be interesting, thinks free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, 26.

Her friend and former co-worker at Vanity Fair, Robert Sherwood, just turned 24, now managing editor at Life magazine, has invited her and one of her many escorts, Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 24, for a special lunch at the Algonquin Hotel. He wants them all to meet mutual friends, first-time novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, and his new wife Zelda, 19.

algonquin hotel

The Algonquin Hotel

Instead of the Rose Room, where Parker and Sherwood regularly lunch with their fellow New York writers these days, today they are in the smaller Oak Room, just off the lobby, to avoid the crowds. All five are squeezed into a banquette, lined up against the wall. The food is identical to that in the main dining room. $1.65 for the Blue Plate Special—broiled chicken, cauliflower with hollandaise, beets with butter, fried potatoes, and the same free popovers.

They have all run into each other a few times before. But this is the first chance Parker has to size up Zelda, this Southern belle Scott has been talking about endlessly. Except when he’s talking about the fabulous sales of his first novel, This Side of Paradise.

Apparently, he hasn’t yet read the latest review by one of Parker’s other writer-friends, Heywood Broun, 31, in the New York Tribune, which called Fitzgerald’s writing:

complacent…pretentious…self-conscious…[and the main characters] male flappers.”

Their other lunch-buddy, FPA, 38, has made a game in his Tribune column of spotting typos throughout the novel.

Dottie tunes out Scott’s youthful enthusiasm to focus on his new bride. Not quite as frivolous as Parker expected. Zelda sports the latest, fashionable bobbed hair, chews gum, and speaks in a predictable southern drawl. Parker has seen that Kewpie-doll face many times before.

Zelda young

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald

And Zelda is sizing up Mrs. Parker, professional writer. Long hair. Big hat. Condescending.

Boring, Zelda decides.

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker, nee Rothschild

 

“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.

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

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