“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, Summer, 1922, Manhattan, New York City, New York

So far it’s been one helluva summer for free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, soon to turn 29.

She and her husband of five years, Edwin Pond Parker II, 29, spent Memorial Day in Connecticut with his family. Eddie is thinking that they should move there. Dottie tried to get some writing done that weekend, but…no.

Dorothy and Eddie Parker

Then, soon after the Fourth of July, she comes home to find Eddie all packed up and ready to move out. He says he is fed up with his job at Paine Webber and he’s moving back to Hartford with his family. She can have the dog and the furniture. Well, of course she’ll keep the dog.

Dorothy tells her fellow writers who she lunches with regularly at the Algonquin Hotel that the split is amicable. It’s just because Eddie took a new job in Hartford. They don’t believe that for a minute.

A gossip columnist had recently implied that Dorothy and one of her lunch buddies, theatre critic Robert Benchley, 32, were having an affair because they are seen together around town all the time. Dottie and Bob reassured Eddie that it was just because their jobs are so similar. They review the same plays, are invited to the same parties, go to the same speakeasies, and have lunch together almost every day. That’s all.

Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker

Despite the turmoil in her personal life. Parker’s writing is going well. She had a piece in the Saturday Evening Post recently, “Men I’m Not Married To,” as a companion to “Women I’m Not Married To” by her Algonquin friend Franklin Pierce Adams [FPA], 40, in the same issue. There has been some talk of publishing the two together as a book. The Post runs something of hers in almost every issue.

“Men I’m Not Married To,” Saturday Evening Post

Parker has also decided to expand beyond the little nonsense verses she’s known for and try her hand at short stories. FPA is encouraging her; he gave her a book of French poetry and suggested that she can work on her prose style by modeling these poems. Parker has also learned that she can’t write fiction on a typewriter; she has switched to longhand, revising as she goes along.

Her first story is about a man clipping the hedges at his home in Scarsdale, ruminating about how trapped he feels by his wife, his kids, his mortgage, the suburbs. Something like Benchley. A bit depressing compared to her usual work, but The Smart Set has offered her $50 to publish it later in the year.

And just as she feels she is getting her life straightened out, along comes would-be playwright Charles MacArthur, 26. Fresh into Manhattan from Chicago; six feet tall; curly brown hair; with a line many women can die for. And fall for. Including Dottie.

Charles MacArthur

They were introduced by her other lunch buddy, theatre critic Alexander Woollcott, 35, who likes MacArthur so much you’d think he was in love with him.

What a perfect world this would be if it were full of MacArthurs!”

he has said.

Apparently, Charlie has a wife back in Chicago. No mind. Dorothy has a husband in Hartford. MacArthur bitches about the phoniness of New York City all the time, but knows he has to live here if he’s going to have any kind of theatre career. One day he showed up at the ASPCA pound with birthday cakes for all the puppies. They both like scotch and they both like sex. How could Dottie not fall in love with him?!

Her Algonquin friends think it’s cute, but surely Dorothy knows his reputation. He’s been sleeping with so many women around town, magazine illustrator Neysa McMein, 34, has a rubber stamp made for him that says

I love you.”

“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.

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.

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’:  New York City, May 1917

The May issue of Vanity Fair is on the newsstands in Manhattan.


Vanity Fair, May 1917

On the Upper West Side, lawyer and art collector John Quinn, 46, is eager to get his copy and see in print the article he submitted, ‘James Joyce: A New Irish Novelist.’

Quinn had sent most of his friends copies of the new novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Joyce, 35. Earlier this year, his piece had been rejected by the New York Sun for being too long. So he had submitted it to Vanity Fair, knowing that they did not shy away from challenging their readers. They’d published Gertrude Stein, 43, after all. Vanity Fair had accepted it, offering to donate the $65 fee to an Irish charity of Quinn’s choice.

Ha! Quinn feels he is done with Irish charity, having supported his artist, writer and political friends there financially and morally over the last few years. He told them to give the cash to French war orphans instead.

But Irishman-in-exile Joyce has become his pet project. Quinn had heard his Irish friends talk about him when visiting Dublin almost ten years ago. But it wasn’t till the American ex-patriate poet Ezra Pound, 31, had introduced him to Joyce’s writing that he vowed to champion this new prose in America. Through Pound in London, Quinn had managed to get $100 to a grateful Joyce, ill in Zurich, by buying the original manuscript for A Portrait. Quinn felt that buying manuscripts and paintings from developing writers and artists was a good way to support them as well as increase his own holdings.


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Paging through the current issue of Vanity Fair, Quinn finds his article nestled among the ads for perfumes and deodorants, children’s shoes and rubber body suits for weight loss.

Farther down in mid-town, Dorothy Rothschild, 23, is grabbing her copy of Vanity Fair to see her latest poem, ‘Actresses:  A Hate Song’:

I hate actresses.

They get on my nerves.

There are the Adventuresses,

The Ladies with Lavender Pasts.

They wear gowns that show all their emotions,…’

She’s been getting a lot of mileage—and $12 a shot—out of this theme, starting with ‘Men:  A Hate Song’ in the same magazine over a year ago.

Dottie is actually on staff at Vanity Fair’s sister magazine, Vogue, both owned by Conde Nast publishing.  She spends her days writing captions such as,

‘Brevity is the soul of lingerie—as the Petticoat said to the chemise.’  

vogue-cover-may-1917 (1)

Vogue, May 1917

Rothschild would love to switch over to the more literary Vanity Fair, and submits poems to get their attention. But mostly she is thinking about her upcoming wedding to Wall Street stock broker Edwin Pond Parker II, 24, about a month away.

Is this a good time to get married? Just last month, America entered the war in Europe! At least she will be able to change her name.

Also in midtown, looking through this month’s issue, is another sometime Vanity Fair contributor, Robert Benchley, 27. In ‘The Alcoholic Drama’ he reviews a roundup of plays, including one he wasn’t so impressed with:

Somehow it drags. One has plenty of time…to look about the house and see who is there, and then come back to the play, without missing a stroke.’

Benchley has just been fired along with all his colleagues on the New York Tribune Magazine. He’d loved that job. They’d even encouraged him to play a corpse in a play so he could write an article about it.

But the publishers of the Tribune are big supporters of America’s involvement in the war, so they’d gotten rid of any staff who disagreed. Benchley is a pacifist; and with a wife and 18-month old son in the suburbs, he is exempt from military service.

Bob had seen the disaster coming, so has applied for a rumoured opening at Vanity Fair. But the editor is vague about whether this will materialize, so Benchley is thinking of creative ways to free-lance. Writing articles for the Atlantic Monthly, advertising copy, movie titles. Even becoming a press agent for Broadway shows.

Quinn instructs the staff in his Nassau Street law office to send copies of Vanity Fair out to a list of his acquaintances. He wants to do everything he can to promote Joyce and his writing.

But he also has to get ready for the dinner party he is giving tonight. On Pound’s suggestion, he has invited the editors of a literary magazine based in Greenwich Village, The Little Review, Margaret Anderson, 30, and Jane Heap, 34, to dine that evening in his Central Park West ninth floor penthouse.

The purpose of the dinner is to discuss the support Quinn has been giving to the magazine via Pound, who has been appointed, at Quinn’s request, as The Little Review’s foreign editor. Quinn is sure he will be able to persuade these women to take his additional advice about how to run their little magazine.

Little Review May 1917

The Little Review, May 1917

This year I’ll be piecing together my planned biography of John Quinn (1870-1924). Read more about him on the link to your right: ‘I want to tell you about an amazing man.’

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

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