“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, August 16, 1920, Westport, Connecticut

It’s been a wild summer, thank God.”

Zelda Fitzgerald, 20, is writing to a friend.

Her husband, F. Scott, 23, has been spending long hours working on his second novel, The Flight of the Rocket. He has described it to his publisher, Charles Scribner, II [“Old C. S.”], 65,

How [the hero] and his beautiful young wife are wrecked on the shoals of dissipation is told in the story….I hope [it] won’t disappoint the critics who liked my first one [This Side of Paradise].”

Zelda manages to drive into New York City fairly often, with and without her husband. And carry on a bit of an affair with Smart Set magazine co-editor, George Jean Nathan, 38, whose specialties are absinthe cocktails and married women.

Mencken and Nathan

Smart Set editors H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan

Recently, Nathan had invited both Fitzgeralds to a midweek party at his West 44th Street apartment at the Royalton Hotel, so Scott could meet Nathan’s fellow editor, H. L. Mencken, 39. The young novelist was thrilled to get to know one of his literary heroes, who rarely shows up at these midtown Manhattan parties. Nathan had managed to procure three cases of bootleg gin for the occasion.

Zelda is describing what she remembers of the party to her friend,

I cut my tail on a broken bottle and can’t possibly sit on the three stitches that are in it now—The bottle was bath salts —I was boiled—The place was a tub somewhere.”

Zelda has no idea how she ended up in Nathan’s tub, but she has been known to take impromptu baths at parties before.

A few weeks ago, Scott had written to his agent,

I can’t seem to stay solvent—but I think if you can advance me $500…I’ll be able to survive the summer.”

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

This fall I will be 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.

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.

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, Summer, 1920, Windsor, Vermont; Westport, Connecticut; and New York City, New York

For the first time since he moved from the advertising department, at New York publisher Charles Scribner’s & Sons, up to the editorial department six years ago, Maxwell Perkins, 35, feels as though he is entitled to a vacation.

He is back in Windsor, Vermont, where he had spent most of his summers while growing up. It’s peaceful. And quiet. And brings back good memories.

Windsor VT Old So Church

The Old South Church in Windsor, Vermont

However, as usual, he worries about his writers. Particularly his new discovery F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, whose debut novel, This Side of Paradise, is earning Perkins this welcome rest.

Max decides he’d better send Scott his summer address, just in case he needs to be in touch:

Maxwell Perkins

Windsor, Vermont.”

Down south in Westport, Connecticut, Scott and his new bride, Zelda, about to turn 20, are spending most of their summer supporting the local bootlegger.

Working on short stories as well as his second novel, Scott flirts with Eugenia Bankhead, 19, sister of stage and screen actress Tallulah, 18, both old schoolmates of Zelda.

Zelda fights back by chatting up Smart Set co-editor George Jean Nathan, 37.

So many drunk drivers are racing up and down the road between parties in Westport and New York, the local police have given up trying to stop them.

Fitzs house in Westport

The Fitzgeralds’ rented house in Westport, Connecticut

Riding through midtown Manhattan one day in a taxi, Scott starts sobbing. He knows that he has gotten everything he ever wanted. And life will never be this good again.

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

This 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 the 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.

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