“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, December 27, 1922, Scribner’s, 153-157 Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York

Max Perkins, 38, has been here at Scribner’s for 12 years now. He’s mostly worked on his authors’ novels, short story collections and non-fiction works as well. This is the first time he’s been asked to edit a play.

Scribner’s

Scribner’s star novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 26, has had his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, followed by his second story collection, Flappers and Philosophers, published this year. Both are doing well.

Scott is working on a third novel, but is currently sidetracked by writing this play, originally titled Gabriel’s Trombone. He has now decided on a new title, The Vegetable:  From President to Postman.

Perkins agreed to read it and give Scott some feedback, which he sent to him yesterday:

I’ve read your play three times and I think more highly of its possibilities on the third reading than ever before;—but I am also more strongly convinced that these possibilities are far from being realized on account of the handling of the story in the second act [in which the main character has drunken fantasies of becoming president]…You seem to lose sense of your true motive…Satirize as much as you can…but keep one eye always on your chief motive. Throughout the entire wild second act there would still be a kind of ‘wild logic.’…

“My only excuse for all this verbiage is, that so good in conception is your motive, so true your characters, so splendidly imaginative your invention, and so altogether above the mere literate the whole scheme, that no one could help but greatly desire to see it all equal in execution. If it were a comparative trifle, like many a short story, it wouldn’t much matter…To save space, I’ve omitted most of the ‘I thinks,’ ‘It seems to mes,’ and ‘I may be wrong buts’:  They would be, however, understood.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins’ relationships with 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”:  100 Years Ago, January 6, 1922, Scribner’s, 153-157 Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York

Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins, 37, is thinking about how to word this letter to one of his star authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 25, currently with his wife and newborn daughter in his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Maxwell Perkins

Scott’s second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, is set to be published this spring. Max believes it will do at least as well as his first, This Side of Paradise, which was a Scribner’s best-seller of 1920.

Fitzgerald is also continually publishing short stories in widely read magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Metropolitan.

Perkins likes following a hit novel with a collection of stories by the same author, feeling that the sales of each will help both. This was true of Paradise.

For the follow up collection, Fitzgerald suggested a number of titles:  We Are Seven. A La Carte. Journeys and Journey’s End. Bittersweet. Or Flappers and Philosophers.

Flappers and Philosophers

Perkins has chosen the last one, although Charles Scribner II, 67, president of the company, was aghast.

Like Scribner, Perkins doesn’t want to mess with success. Nevertheless, he wants to suggest to Fitzgerald that it might be time to take a different turn.

He knows Scott is in the beginning stages of thinking about his third novel. And Max is also concerned that his own four daughters might want to become flappers.

Perkins writes,

We ought to…get away altogether from the flapper idea.”

“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.

On February 3, 2022, we will be celebrating the 148th birthday of my fellow Pittsburgher Gertrude Stein, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill. You can register for this free event, or sign up to watch it via Zoom, here

Early in the new year I am talking about the Centenary of the Publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses in the Osher Lifelong 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 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.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, December 29, 1920, 38 West 59th Street, Central Park South, New York City, New York

Scribner’s Sons’ hit novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, has had a good year, his first as a successful writer.

His income from writing totals $18,850. His first novel, This Side of Paradise, was both a financial and critical success, with sales at over 40,000 copies. His follow-up short story collection, Flappers and Philosophers, is also doing quite well.

And he married the woman of his dreams, Zelda Sayre, 20. This is as happy as he has been since he was 18.

Now that he has just about finished his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, Scott and Zelda are pleased to be out of Westport, Connecticut, where they spent the summer. They are back in Manhattan, in this brownstone near their favorite hotel, The Plaza. The Fitzgeralds have dinner sent over from there often. Other nights, they just dine on olive sandwiches and Bushmill’s. (Zelda isn’t much of a cook.)

Plaza Hotel interior

However, Scott’s bank has informed him that they can no longer lend him any money against the security of the stock he holds. He has $6,000 in bills piled up, and he will have to pay back his agent the $600 advance he got for a short story he can’t write. Scott feels he just can NOT do another flapper.

At the beginning of this month, Fitzgerald had written to ask his very understanding Scribner’s editor, Max Perkins, 36,

Can this nth advance be arranged?”

Now he is planning to write to Max again to see if he can get a loan as an advance on this second novel. Zelda wants a new squirrel coat.

Advertisement for coats with squirrel fur

Farther down Manhattan, in the Scribner’s offices, the president, Charles Scribner II, 66, is catching up on his correspondence with an old friend, Sir Shane Leslie, 35, Irish writer and diplomat, who first brought the unpublished Scott Fitzgerald to Scribner’s attention.

Earlier in the year he had written to Leslie: 

Your intro of…Fitzgerald proved to be an important one for us; This Side of Paradise has been our best seller this season and is still going strong.”

Today, Scribner writes to Leslie that he does not like the choice of title for Fitzgerald’s collection, Flappers and Philosophers, but he’s willing go with Perkins’ recommendation—the editor has usually been right about these things.

Scribner goes on to say that Fitzgerald,

is very fond of the good things of life and is disposed to enjoy it to the full while the going is good. Economy is not one of his virtues.”

“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.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins’ relationships with 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.

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.

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-September, 1920, New York City, New York

Alexander McKaig, 25, is enjoying a quiet evening in his New York City apartment, when in through the door bursts his friend and former Princeton classmate, F. Scott Fitzgerald, about to turn 24, and his new bride, Zelda, 20. Fighting. As always.

Apparently, they had just jumped on a train to Manhattan when their most recent squabble brought them to the Westport, Connecticut, train station, near their current rented home. Zelda had almost been run over by a train while crossing the Saugatuck River railroad bridge.

Since the Fitzgeralds moved to Westport early in the summer, McKaig’s impression is that they party and fight all the time. The most recent big blow out had been over Labor Day weekend.

Zelda Fitzgerald, back row; Scott Fitzgerald, front row; Alex McKaig, far right; with other partygoers in Westport, Connecticut

Why all the drama? Scott’s writing career appears to be going well. Based on the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise, earlier this year, his publisher, Scribner’s and Sons, brought out a collection of his short stories, Flappers and Philosophers, just last week.

Flapper and Philosophers cover

The Fitzgeralds are always complaining about having no money. But Alex knows that an advance on the Scribner’s royalties bought Zelda a new fur coat. And Fitzgerald has sold some of his stories to Hollywood movie studios for thousands of dollars.

What on earth are they always fighting about?!

After listening to Zelda yet again threaten to leave Scott for good, McKaig determines that he won’t attend their next upcoming drunken party in Westport.

“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.

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.

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

This fall I am talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at the University of Pittsburgh and 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.