“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, May, 1920, 244 Compo Road South, Westport, Connecticut

Newlywed Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, 19, is bored.

She is sitting on the beach not far from their rented, colonial-style 150-plus-year old house, where her new husband, hot hit novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, is upstairs writing short stories. Always writing.

Of course, he gets about $900 for each one, like “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” in this month’s Saturday Evening Post, so at least that will pay some bills.

Their local bootlegger, Baldy Jack Rose, 43, keeps them in cheap whiskey. And their mysterious next store neighbour, Frederick Lewis, is a thirty-ish multimillionaire who pretty much keeps to himself. He doesn’t mind if Zelda shortcuts across his property to get to this beach, which makes the 20-minute walk a bit more interesting. And he gives great parties.

FE Lewis Fitz Wport neighb

Frederick E. Lewis

But Zelda is still bored. When Scott’s not working they drive their sports car around the countryside, or back into the city. Although, since she ran over a fire hydrant, Scott won’t let her behind the wheel anymore.

They finally had to hire a Japanese house boy for the cleaning and cooking because Zelda sure as heck couldn’t do any of that.

She thought that finally getting out of Montgomery, Alabama, away from her family, moving up north, getting married—she thought it would all be more exciting than this.

Now she spends most days hungover, sipping lemonade, sitting in a beach chair. Looking across the Sound to Long Island.

zelda-fitzgerald-at-compo-beach

Zelda Fitzgerald at Compo Beach, Connecticut

Thanks to Richard Webb at Gatsby in Connecticut for help in authenticating details of this posting.

“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 and his relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

In 2020 I am talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning program.

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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, Easter Sunday, April 4, 1920, New York City, New York

Charles Scribner’s & Sons’ ad for the first novel—already a hit—by their hot new discovery, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, appears.

Paradise NY Times ad

“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 literary salons in Ireland, England, France and America, before and after the Great War, in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning program.

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.

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, Good Friday, April 2, 1920, New York City, New York

Zelda Sayre, 19, gets off the train in New York City, with her sister, Marjorie Brinson, 34, for the first time in her life. Waiting for them at Pennsylvania Station is one of their other married sisters, Rosalind Smith, 31, and Zelda’s fiancée, the hot new first-time novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23.

Scott and Zelda wedding dress maybe

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

Scott and Zelda met less than two years ago when he was stationed at Camp Sheridan, the Army base near her home in Montgomery, Alabama. They’ve been writing and dating ever since, but she had rejected his numerous proposals:  Until Charles Scribner’s Sons offered to publish Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise.

Scott had been told that sales of 5,000 copies for a first novel would be considered a success. Paradise sold 20,000 in its first week.

The three Sayre sisters have booked into the Biltmore Hotel to rest and get ready for tomorrow’s wedding at noon in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, just blocks away from the groom’s publisher, Scribner’s.

The plans and guest list are simple. Bridal couple, best man, Rosalind as matron of honor. Zelda’s two sisters—Marjorie and Clothilde Palmer, 29—and their husbands who will come in from Tarrytown tomorrow. That’s it.

Zelda and Scott will honeymoon here at the Biltmore. The bride has a new dark blue suit and a bouquet of orchids. She’s confident that “Goofo,” as she calls her intended, will have made some arrangements for a luncheon. Or at least a cake…

BiltmoreHotelPostcard

Postcard for the Biltmore Hotel

“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 literary salons in Ireland, England, France and America, before and after the Great War, in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning program.

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.

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, March 27 and 28, 1920, New York City, New York; Hollywood, California; and Montgomery, Alabama

Harold Ross, 27, who has made a name for himself around the publishing world by being the successful editor of the U. S. Army’s newspaper, The Stars & Stripes, in Paris during the Great War, is doing quite well now that he is state-side. Ross has just signed a contract to become editor of the American Legion Weekly, the house organ for veterans adjusting to their new lives back in the States.

The contract is his wedding present to Jane Grant, also 27, who he is secretly eloping with later today.

Ross and Grant met in Paris during the war, when she was there with the American Red Cross, entertaining soldiers.

Grant and Ross

Jane Grant and Harold Ross

They had discussed marriage a few times, and this week she said to him,

How about Saturday?”

So he agreed.

They plan to live on Grant’s salary as the first full-time female reporter for the New York Times, and save Ross’ earnings to start the magazine about New York they are planning.

*****

The next day, the rest of the country is thrilled with a different wedding. “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, 27, is marrying her co-star, “Everybody’s Hero,” Douglas Fairbanks, 36. The worst kept secret in the movie business is that their affair began while they were each married to others. But America is willing to forgive their beloved “Hollywood Royalty.” The Fairbanks are off to Europe for their honeymoon.

Douglas_Fairbanks_and_Mary_Pickford_02

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks

*****

Down south in Montgomery, Alabama, Zelda Sayre, 19, is planning for her wedding. The handsome young soldier she met during the war when he was stationed nearby at Camp Sheridan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, now living in New York City, has been wooing her with love letters and presents:  An ostrich fan. His mother’s ring. A diamond and platinum watch. They were nice. But what really did the trick is when he signed a contract with Charles Scribner’s Sons to publish his first novel, This Side of Paradise. And Metro Studios bought the rights to one of his short stories for $2,500.

That’s when Zelda had said yes.

The novel was published this week and she’s getting ready for the wedding in early April.

fitzgerald-zelda1

Zelda Sayre and F. Scott Fitzgerald

“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 in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the University of Pittsburgh’s 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, before March 26, 1920, midtown Manhattan

The excitement is palpable.

Employees at publishing house Charles Scribner’s Sons are finally getting pumped up about the debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, the hot new discovery of Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins, 35.

Max’s enthusiasm for This Side of Paradise had not initially been shared by his co-workers. After all, this Fitzgerald was the youngest novelist Scribner’s had ever published.

When one of the men in the sales department had any doubts about a new book, he would take it home for his well-educated sister to read. She had proved to be a good predictor of success. So his fellow employees were all eager to know what she had thought of Paradise. He reported,

She picked it up with tongs because she wouldn’t touch it with her hands after reading it, and put it into the fire.”

This_Side_of_Paradise_dust_jacket

Original cover of This Side of Paradise

Perkins was so worried about negative reactions within the house, that he tried to keep the manuscript mostly in his own hands. As a former Scribner’s advertising director, he had approved the upcoming New York Times ad:

Paradise NY Times ad

New York Times ad, to run April 4, 1920

Perkins didn’t even want the staff proofreaders to have a crack at the novel. As a result, the printed version will be riddled with typos. Even more embarrassing to Perkins is that Fitzgerald—a terrible speller himself—is pointing out mistakes to him.

As publication day approaches, Perkins wonders if he has done the right thing by fighting to have tradition-encrusted Scribner’s take on this new writing.

“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 Perkins and his relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

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

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, February, 1920, Montgomery, Alabama

Well. That was a scare.

Zelda Sayre, 19, had been late.

Not late to the dance. Late.

Her current boyfriend, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, was back in New York City, finishing off his first novel to be published by Charles Scribner’s & Sons next month, and sending his short stories to magazines. Scott and Zelda were engaged. And then un-engaged.

He is still showering her with lots of presents.

zelda_aged_18 dancing

Zelda Sayre, dancing

When Zelda had written to tell him that she was late, Scott had sent her some pills to get rid of the unwanted baby.

Zelda threw them away. Only prostitutes have abortions. Not socially prominent daughters of Southern judges.

She wrote back to Scott—or “Goofo” as she calls him—to say that

God—or something”

would fix everything.

Must have been God.

She isn’t late anymore.

“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 Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, 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, January 10, 1920, in New Orleans, LA

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, is eagerly anticipating receiving the galleys for his first novel, This Side of Paradise, so he can correct them during his self-imposed writing retreat here in New Orleans. He is writing to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, 35, at Charles Scribner’s Sons in Manhattan, about his next novel:

I want to start it, but I don’t want to get broke in the middle and…have to write short stories again—because I don’t enjoy [writing stories] and just do it for money…There’s nothing in collections of short stories is there?”

perkins in suit

Max Perkins

A week later, Perkins writes back confirming Fitzgerald’s suspicions, but offering some encouragement:

It seems to me that [your stories] have the popular note which would be likely to make them sell in book form. I wish you did care more about writing them…because they have great value in making you a reputation and because they are quite worthwhile in themselves…Still we should not like to interfere with your novels…”

Perkins believes it’s a good idea to follow an author’s novel with a short story collection, increasing sales of both.

“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 Max Perkins and his relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’sOsher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, 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, January 1, 1920…

 

America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

That was 100 years ago. So here we are again. At the beginning of the Twenties. Will this be a similar decade?!

There’s one way to tell:  To look back at certain points and document what was happening a century before, with the artists and writers who were “Such Friends”:

William Butler Yeats and the Irish Literary Renaissance,

Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group,

Gertrude Stein and the Americans in Paris, and

Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table,

in Ireland, England, France and America.

As the new decade begins…

Irish poet W B Yeats, 54, is getting ready to go back to the United States on his third American lecture tour, this time with his wife, Georgie Hyde-Lees, 28. They are leaving the baby Anne, just 11 months old, back in Ireland with his sisters.

Yeats and Geo 1923

Georgie and William Butler Yeats

Hogarth Press owners, novelist Virginia Woolf, about to turn 38, and her husband Leonard, 39, have been celebrating the holidays at Monk’s House in Sussex, which they bought last year at auction. This coming year, they want to spend more time outside of too-busy London.

Va and Leon

Virginia and Leonard Woolf

In Paris, American writer Gertrude Stein, 45, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 42, are still getting back to normal after the Armistice. Their apartment, on the Left Bank near the Luxembourg Gardens, had hosted salons for all the local painters before the Great War. Who will come now?

Gert and Alice with the paintings

Alice B. Toklas and her partner Gertrude Stein with Picassos

Vanity Fair writers Dorothy Parker, 26, Robert Benchley, 30, and their “such friends” are lunching regularly at the Algonquin Hotel in midtown Manhattan. And trying to drink up in the last few weeks before the Volstead Act—Prohibition—goes into effect. It won’t slow them down.

parkerbenchley cartoon

Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley

Join me on a journey through the “Literary 1920s,” tracking these characters in their place and time, 100 years ago. Happy New Year!

“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 Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, 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’: 1921, Summer, Left Bank, Paris

In the past few weeks I have been posting vignettes about how each of the four writers’ salons came together. This is the beginning of Gertrude Stein and the Americans in Paris:

‘He is so anxious to know you, for he says you have influenced him ever so much and that you stand as such a great master of words,’

read the note that Sylvia Beach, 34. owner of the Left Bank bookshop Shakespeare & Co., sent to Gertrude Stein, 47, about their fellow American, novelist Sherwood Anderson, 44. Gertrude and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, also 44, instantly decided that they would love to meet him.

Beach had found Anderson looking in the display window of her shop, and invited him in.  He had left his advertising job after having success with Winesburg, Ohio, his collection of stories focused on the residents of one town. Anderson had read some of Stein’s work in American publications and was impressed by her radical approach to writing.

27 rue de fleurus

27 rue de Fleurus

Anderson and his wife Tennessee, 47, arrived at 27 rue de Fleurus, anticipating being in the presence of greatness.  As Toklas remembered later in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein:

‘For some reason or other I was not present on this occasion, some domestic complication in all probability, at any rate when I did come home Gertrude Stein was moved and pleased as she has very rarely been. Gertrude Stein was in those days a little bitter, all her unpublished manuscripts, and no hope of publication or serious recognition. Sherwood Anderson came and quite simply and directly as is his way told her what he thought of her work and what it had meant to him in his development. He told it to her then and what was even rarer he told it in print immediately after. Gertrude Stein and Sherwood Anderson have always been the best of friends but I do not believe even he realizes how much his visit meant to her.’

When the Andersons went back to America, they told others of the wonders of postwar Paris. They sent a young reporter, Ernest Hemingway, 22, and his new wife Hadley, 29, to Stein. A few years later, Hemingway brought successful novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, and his wife Zelda, 21, to Stein. And so the influx of American writers and their wives to 27 rue de Fleurus began:

‘The geniuses came and talked to Gertrude Stein and the wives sat with me. How they unroll, an endless vista thru the years…Hadley and Pauline Hemingway and Mrs. Sherwood Anderson, and Mrs. Bravig Imbs and the Mrs. Ford Maddox Ford and endless others, geniuses, near geniuses and might be geniuses, all having wives, and I have sat and talked with them all all the wives…’

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

This fall, I will be teaching a class in the first semester of the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute [OLLI], ‘Such Friends’:  The Literary 1920s in Dublin, London, Paris and New York.

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

To read about American writers, 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.