“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, June 19, 1920, Hotel Elysee, 3 rue de Beaune, Paris

About ten days ago, when American poet Ezra Pound, 34, was still in Italy, he had met for the first time the Irish writer whom he had been corresponding with and encouraging for seven years, James Joyce, 38.

Joyce 1918

James Joyce

He had convinced Joyce to move the entire Joyce family to Paris in the next few months. Pound promised he will pave the way with the proper introductions.

Today he is writing to the American patron of the arts and artists, lawyer John Quinn, 50, back in New York, describing his first impressions of Joyce:

Dear John Quinn:

I came out of Italy on a tram-car [because of a rail strike] & reckon the next man will come out in a cab.

Joyce finally got to Sirmione [Italy]; dont [sic] know yet whether he has got back to Trieste…

Joyce pleasing; after the first shell of cantankerous Irishman…

A concentration & absorption passing [W B Yeats, 55]; Yeats has never taken on anything requiring the condensation of Ulysses.

—Also gt. exhaustion, but more constitution than I had expected, & apparently good recovery from eye operation.

He is coming up here later; long reasons but justified in taking a rest from Trieste.

He is of course as stubborn as a mule or an Irishman, but I failed to find him at all unreasonable:  Thank god he has been stubborn enough to know his job & stick to it…

He is also dead right in refusing to interrupt his stuff by writing stray articles for cash. Better in the end, even from practical point of view…

In the stories of his early eccentricities in Dublin I have always thought people neglected the poignant feature:  i.e. that his “outrageous” remarks were usually so.

His next work will go to the Dial [magazine]—but he shd. rest after Ulysses

yours ever

E. P.”

“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 of 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.

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

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.

“Such Friends”:  116 Years Ago, June 16, 1904, Dublin, Ireland

We interrupt our centenary remembrances with a trip back in time to celebrations of “Bloomsday,” the day on which James Joyce set his novel, Ulysses.

Below is a blog I wrote celebrating Bloomsday, way back in the beginning of this millennium. And it is still relevant today, I think.

Excerpts from the original blog series are contained in Gypsy Teacher, available as a blook on Amazon.

Every Wednesday…

The Journal of a Teacher in Search of a Classroom

By Kathleen Dixon Donnelly, June 16, 2003, Hollywood, Florida,

Happy “Bloomsday”!

99 years ago this week, James Joyce had his first date with the woman who was to become his wife, Nora Barnacle. He chose to immortalize the occasion in his epic, Ulysses, which covers every detail of one day in the life of Leopold Bloom, a Jew living in Dublin, in only 783 pages.

joyce and nora1904

James Joyce and Nora Barnacle

What this really means is that next year, Dublin will go fughin’ nuts.

I lived in Ireland for just short of a year, but I have never been there for Bloomsday celebrations. Maybe next year. [NB from the future, gentle reader:  I made it!]

Many think that June 16th is the date that Jimmy and Nora met, but indeed that was a week earlier. She coyly kept putting him off but finally agreed to go out with him. I’ve seen pictures of Nora and let’s just say, she had a wonderful personality.

On my second trip to Ireland, the minute I turned on to the street in Galway town with the house that Nora grew up in, my stomach recognized the site as looking just like where my mom grew up in Pittsburgh. If I showed you photos of the two, you might not see the similarity, but the “feel” was palpable. Small row houses, all looking the same, but with each door painted a different color.

Soon after they met, Joyce convinced Nora to come with him to Switzerland where he had accepted a teaching position. They had two children and went to visit Paris in 1920 for just a few weeks—but stayed for years. Paris has that effect on people. Even the Irish.

James and Nora never actually got around to getting married until their children were both grown. They just presented themselves as a married couple and were always accepted that way. Nobody Googled, looking for a marriage certificate.

Nora and James Joyce

Nora and James Joyce after their wedding

In Paris Joyce continued work on Ulysses and the writers living there knew that he was working on something big. He didn’t socialize in the writers’ salons in Paris at the time. He mostly drank alone, sometimes with others, breaking into song late at night in the cafes. The cab drivers would bring him home, where Nora would be waiting at the top of the stairs, arms akimbo, like a good Irish wife. “Jimmy,” she’d say, looking down on him lying in a drunken heap,

Your fans think you’re a genius but they should see you now.”

When Dorothy Parker visited the city in the twenties, she saw Joyce on the street but he didn’t speak to her. She reasoned,

Perhaps he thought he would drop a pearl.”

Excerpts from Ulysses began appearing in the Little Review in the States around 1918, causing quite a stir because of the language. The first obscenity case brought against the magazine was argued by Irish-American lawyer John Quinn, who didn’t win, but got the Little Review publishers off with a $100 fine.

Quinn is one of the true heroes of early 20th century literature and art. He helped William Butler Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory found the Abbey Theatre in Dublin (and had an affair with Augusta later), bought up lots of Cubist and Post-Impressionist paintings in Paris, lent many of them to the 1913 Armory Show in New York, and argued a case for the organizers of that show that changed the customs law in the U.S.:  From that point on, works of art less than 100 years old would be free of tariffs as their classical cousins were.

Virginia and Leonard Woolf, operating their Hogarth Press in London, had rejected Ulysses. Reading it made Virginia feel, in the words of one biographer, that

someone had stolen her pen and scribbled on the privy wall.”

Sylvia Beach, the American who founded the bookstore Shakespeare & Co., the social center for the expatriate community in Paris, met Joyce at a party and soon offered to publish his novel. After being rejected by so many who weren’t adventurous enough to take it on, he was intrigued that this woman wanted his book.

Joyce took longer to finish the work than they expected. So for the local artistic community, many of whom had subscribed in response to Beach’s mailing announcing the work, she held a reading on December 7th, 1921, in her shop. Gertrude Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, didn’t come; they lived a few blocks away but were preparing for their annual Christmas party.

When Beach did publish Ulysses the following February, on Joyce’s 40th birthday, Alice promptly walked over to Shakespeare & Co and cancelled Gertrude’s subscription. They would brook no competitors for her title as greatest living writer in English.

JoyceUlysses2 cover

First cover of Ulysses

After publication, Ulysses was promptly banned in Boston, but a friend of Ernest Hemingway managed to smuggle a copy into the United States via Canada.

Joyce died in 1941 at the age of 59 of a duodenal ulcer. Nora lived another ten years.

Beach, who funded the publication of Ulysses on her own with the help of the paid subscriptions, never saw any profit or royalties from it. Her writer friends helped her keep the bookstore open, but when the Nazis occupied Paris during World War II she was interned for a few years. She wrote a lovely memoir called Shakespeare & Co. which was published in the mid-fifties.

During our marriage ceremony on Hollywood Beach last year, on St. Patrick’s Day, our friend performing the ceremony announced that Tony and I each wanted to say something that we’d written. We looked at each other, and Tony said,

You’re the writer. Go ahead.”

So I glanced at my scribbled notes and told him that I wouldn’t promise to solve his problems, but that I would help him to solve them. And that I wouldn’t promise to love everyone he loved, but that I would always respect those he loved.

I finished with Molly Bloom’s “Yes!” from the ending of Ulysses, but because I didn’t do the requisite fact-checking, I misquoted it. So here, for those of you who were at the wedding, and those who weren’t, is the correct ending for Molly and for me:

…and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

EPSON MFP image

Tony Dixon and Kathleen Dixon Donnelly, March 17, 2002

“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.

This fall 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’ 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, Summer, 1920, London, Bishopsbourne, and East Sussex, England

At 74 Gloucester Place in Marylebone, London, publisher and editor Harriet Shaw Weaver, 43, is thrilled to have received a letter from the American owner of the Paris bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., Sylvia Beach, 33.

H Weaver

Harriet Shaw Weaver

Having just met Irish writer James Joyce, 38, Beach wants to buy as many books as she can from Weaver’s Egoist Press, which supports Joyce. Weaver is writing back to offer Shakespeare & Co. a 33% discount and free shipping. She knows this is going to be a good deal.

Later in the summer, Weaver uses an inheritance from her aunt to set up a trust to fund Joyce. She had submitted his latest work in progress, Ulysses, to many publishers, including London’s Hogarth Press, run by Virginia Woolf, 38, and her husband Leonard, 39, but no one wants to touch it.

A few stops east on the Metropolitan Railway, and a short walk from Euston Station, a luncheon is being held at 46 Gordon Square in Bloomsbury to honor art critic and painter Roger Fry, 53, on the occasion of his private showing of 81 paintings at London’s Independent Gallery. His Bloomsbury friend, fellow painter Duncan Grant, 35, had returned from his two-month trip to France and Italy with two cases of paintings that Fry had done while he was there.

Roger Fry c. 1910

Roger Fry

Fry appreciates his friends’ attempt to cheer him up because, despite fairly low prices for all his works, neither the reviews nor the sales are going well. Earlier in the summer he had written to a friend,

It’s almost impossible for an artist to live in England:  I feel so isolated.”

After an easy Underground ride from nearby Russell Square station, south on the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square station, it’s a short walk to the New Theater. The first play by actor Noel Coward, 20, I’ll Leave It to You, is getting good reviews. Coward stars in his own play, which has just transferred to the West End from a successful run up north in Manchester.

noel_coward_young

Noel Coward

The London Times is excited:

It is a remarkable piece of work from so young a head–spontaneous, light, and always ‘brainy.’”

And the Observer predicts:

Mr Coward…has a sense of comedy, and if he can overcome a tendency to smartness, he will probably produce a good play one of these days.”

But this one closes after only 37 performances.

London tube map 1921

London Underground map

From Leicester Square station, heading south down the Hampstead Line, changing to go east on the District Line, the Cannon Street station is in the heart of the City, the financial capital of the country. At the Cannon Street Hotel, a group of radical socialists have gathered for the first Congress of their newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain.

The publisher and editor of the socialist Worker’s Dreadnought newspaper, Sylvia Pankhurst, 38, and one of her reporters, Jamaican Claude McKay, 30, both attend. But Sylvia decides the Communists are way too right wing for her taste, and votes against affiliating with the Labour Party.

Communist Unity Convention 1920

Communist Unity Convention, Summer 1920

Farther south down the District Line, near the West Kensington station, poet Ezra Pound, 34, is back in London after spending time in Europe specifically to introduce his new find, James Joyce, to the literary society of Paris. Pound gives a brown paper package with old clothing and shoes to his friends, poet T. S. Eliot, 31, and painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, 37, to pass on to Joyce on their upcoming trip to Paris.

Farther south, the District line terminates in Richmond. A few blocks from the station in Hogarth House on Paradise Road, the Woolfs are feeling overwhelmed by the success of their Hogarth Press.

The sales flooding in up until now have been primarily from word of mouth among their Bloomsbury friends. Who also send along their manuscripts for the Woolfs to publish.

They’ve recently taken their first ads in national papers such as the Times and the Manchester Guardian and magazines such as the Nation and the New Statesman. Leonard is closing out the account for Eliot’s Poems, and finds they have made a small profit of £9.

This summer they are planning to bring out Reminiscences of Count Leo Tolstoi, by Maxim Gorky, 52, translated by their friend S. S. Koteliansky, 40.

hogarth-house

Hogarth House, Richmond

This is quite a landmark for the Woolfs and their five-year-old company. Not only is it the first Russian translation they have published, with an initial run of 1,250 it is also the first time they have used an outside commercial printer from beginning to end. Up until now they have been setting type, printing and binding, all on their own in their home. Now they have become a true publishing house, not just a small press.

Virginia writes to a friend,

The Hogarth Press is growing like a beanstalk and [Leonard and I] think we must set up a shop and keep a clerk.”

Later in the summer she confides to her diary that Leonard is

on the verge of destruction. As a hobby, the Hogarth Press is clearly too lively & lusty to be carried on in this private way any longer. Moreover, the business part of it can’t be shared, owing to my incompetence. The future, therefore, needs consideration.”

****

About a two-hour drive southeast of Richmond is Bishopsbourne, Kent. At his house, Oswalds, Polish-born novelist Joseph Conrad, 62, is writing to his American benefactor, Irish-American lawyer, John Quinn, 50, in New York.

Oswalds Kent

Oswalds, Bishopsbourne, Kent

Quinn was not happy that Conrad went back on his promise to sell the manuscript of his latest novel to Quinn. But Conrad explained that he had hurriedly sold it to another collector to get cash quickly, and Quinn was understanding. Conrad writes, “

I am glad you take my arrangement as to the MSS. so well…I had many claims on me, and I have some still…—not to speak of my wife’s prolonged disablement.”

Conrad is comforted by the fact that after his death his copyrights will help support his wife Jessie, 46, and their two sons. One of whom is named for Quinn.

Quinn writes back to re-assure him,

You are far from the end of your time…You are one of the leading writers living in the world today and still producing work that is worthy of your best…There is no falling off there [in Conrad’s latest novel The Rescue]! It is a fine thing, one of your best things.”

*****

Seventy miles farther south, in Rodmell, East Sussex, the Woolfs are spending the last half of the summer at their country home, Monk’s House, still worried about overworking at Hogarth.

monk's house from road

Monk’s House, Rodmell, Sussex

Their young friends, painter Dora Carrington, 27, and her lover Ralph Partridge, 26, have  come to stay for a weekend, and the Woolfs talk to Partridge about working for them. Virginia writes to Fry, back in Bloomsbury, that she and Leonard

now think of setting up a proper printing plant and doing all production ourselves—that is with a manager…[Or else close it] as we can’t go on with it as we’ve been doing.”

By the end of August the Hogarth Press has hired Partridge as a part-time assistant for £100 per year and 50% of their net profit.

A twenty-minute drive away, at Charleston Farmhouse, Virginia’s sister, painter Vanessa Bell, is hosting the usual summer assemblage of Bloomsbury creatives.

Charleston farmhouse_exterior_photo_credit_grace_towner better

Charleston Farmhouse, Firle, Sussex

Julian, 12, her son with her estranged husband, art critic Clive Bell, 38, has set off his airgun by mistake and a bullet has gotten stuck in a chair.

According to one of their friends, up in his room Clive is

pretending to read Stendhal.”

Down the hall, economist John Maynard Keynes, just turned 37, is working on his latest book, A Treatise on Probability while continuing to edit the Economic Journal.

Vanessa and her partner, Duncan Grant, are working on a huge project. Keynes has commissioned them to create new murals for his rooms at King’s College, Cambridge. They have decided to produce eight allegorical figures, alternating male and female, to fill almost a whole wall, representing Science, Political Economics, Music, Classics, Law, Mathematics, Philosophy and History. They are advising Maynard on every detail of the interior decoration of the sitting room, right down to the color of the curtains.

Duncan has just returned from a visit to his aging parents up in Kent, and is a bit concerned about his father’s welfare. He tells Vanessa that in the nursing home the Major, 63, is

spending most of his time alone and hardly ever speaking at meals.”

Duncan hopes Virginia and Leonard could make use of his father on some Hogarth Press project.

Overall, Duncan writes to a friend back in Bloomsbury,

Life here is very quiet.”

Studies for murals in Keynes rooms

Drawings for Vanessa and Duncan’s murals for Keynes’ Cambridge sitting room

“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.

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

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.

 

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, June 1, 1920, Sirmione, Lago di Garda, northern Italy

American poet Ezra Pound, 34, looking out on a lake in northern Italy, is writing to his benefactor, American lawyer and art collector, John Quinn, 50, in New York City.

He thanks Quinn for having negotiated a deal for Pound to serve as foreign editor for the American literary magazine, The Dial. He mentions that the magazine had already sent him a check for 2,050 lire, about $100, drawn on a Genoa bank. But no one in this part of the country wants to cash it.

Then he writes about their mutual friend, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 54, recently returned from his third American lecture tour, which had problems with the tour promotion agency:

—Poor W. B. Y. perhaps he’ll now settle down & lead an honest life—Am sorry for his ill fortune but can’t feel he’s wholly spotless, he that went forth to gall the ignorant…Besides he’ll have made enough to buy a few shingles for his phallic symbol on the Bogs. Bally phallus or whatever he calls it with the river on the first floor.”

Thoor Ballylee flooded

Yeats’ tower in the west of Ireland, Thoor Ballylee, flooded

“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.

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

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.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, May 22, 1920, on board the S. S. Megantic, Montreal, Canada

Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 54, and his wife, Georgie, 28, are just about to embark on their voyage back to Liverpool on the S. S. Megantic, part of the White Star Line.

What a great trip it has been.

Postcard of the S. S. Megantic

This was Yeats’ third American lecture tour, but the first with his wife. They had seen a lot of the big country. But most importantly, in New York City, they had had time to spend with his father, painter John Butler Yeats, 81.

Before boarding the ship, Yeats had sent back to their friend in New York, lawyer and art collector, John Quinn, 50, the key to his Central Park West apartment. He thanked Quinn for being such a gracious host, and for

never intrud[ing] irrelevancies…[providing] less argument and more sympathy and understanding [than any other Americans].”

Being away from home had made Yeats feel more strongly than ever about the future of his newly independent country. He and Georgie will spend some time visiting friends in and around London, but then they are eager to go home to Dublin.

“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, May, 1920, Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, Midtown Manhattan

Poet William Butler Yeats, 54, and his wife Georgie, 28, are settling into New York City. They have spent this whole year so far on Willie’s third American lecture tour. It’s been a big success, but they’re exhausted.

Their dear friend, Irish-American lawyer and supporter of the arts, John Quinn, just turned 50, really wants them to stay with him in his spacious Central Park West penthouse apartment. They will—but they decided that a few days at the Algonquin Hotel will be more restful.

They are only planning to be in New York for a couple of weeks before they head for Montreal to board the Mejantic back to England. Quinn has arranged all their tickets and transportation.

Alg lobby 2

Algonquin Hotel lobby

Someone has offered to record Yeats for

a new kind of moving picture—a picture that talks as well as moves,”

as he describes it.

Quinn says they might have the opportunity to meet an Irish politician also touring America. Eamon de Valera, 37, current self-proclaimed President of Dáil Éireann, the Parliament of the newly proclaimed Irish Republic, has asked to meet his country’s most famous poet. And Yeats is curious—is this former Irish rebel just all propaganda? Or is there a real human in there?

Éamon_de_Valera

Eamon de Valera

Mostly, they plan to spend more time with Willie’s father, painter John Butler Yeats, 81, whom Quinn has been keeping an eye on, ever since he moved from Dublin to Manhattan 13 years ago. He was supposed to stay just a few weeks!

The Yeats family had implored their father to come home to Ireland. But J B had written to Yeats that, as an American had pointed out,

In Dublin it is hopeless insolvency. Here it is hopeful insolvency.”

And so he stayed.

“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, April 29, 1920, 31 Nassau Street, New York City, New York

Irish-American lawyer, John Quinn, 49, is in his office sorting out financial arrangements for his friend, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 54, finishing off his lecture tour of America, accompanied by his wife, Georgie, 28.

The company that arranged Yeats’ tour, the Pond Lyceum Bureau, is on the verge of bankruptcy. On Quinn’s recommendation, Yeats insisted that his speaking fees be sent to Quinn to hold in trust. Pond was not happy about going through Quinn, who cabled Yeats last week:

POND WRITES CONSIDERS YOU GREAT FRIEND AND THAT MY PRESSING HIM YOUR SHARE PROCEEDS DOES NOT IMPROVE THAT FRIENDSHIP (STOP) RUBBISH (STOP)”

Conplaint letter to Pond Lyceum Bureau

A previous complaint against the Pond Lyceum Bureau, from publisher Alfred A. Knopf

Today Quinn is writing to Yeats in Sherman, Texas, about the arrangements for his ocean voyage back to Ireland later next month. The Yeats will spend some weeks in New York City first, and are booked in to the Algonquin Hotel. Quinn writes,

I am sorry that you and your wife are not coming directly to my apartment. I had assumed you would both come there but perhaps you will both come in a few days. I won’t be in your way or either of you in my way and ‘twill be very pleasant for me and I think pleasant for both of you…I enclose you an account of the moneys that I have received from Pond, with the dates. Sincerely yours’ [signed John Quinn]

“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.

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

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 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.

“Such Friends”:  150 Years Ago, April 24, 1870, Tiffin, Ohio

Happy birthday, John Quinn!

We interrupt our usual posting of events that happened 100 years ago with a momentous event of 150 years ago.

Regular readers of this blog [you know who you are] will have wondered who this John Quinn fellow is, supporter of art and artists, who keeps popping up 100 years ago. Hosting Irish poet William Butler Yeats and his wife in New York. Writing and receiving letters to and from American ex-patriate poet Ezra Pound. Buying manuscripts of works by writers like Yeats, Joseph Conrad and James Joyce.

Below is a posting I wrote in 2003 about Quinn in my weekly blog, “Every Wednesday:  The Journal of a Teacher in Search of a Classroom,” chronicling my year of unemployment in south Florida. [#shamelessselfpromotion: Available in paperback on Lulu.com,  Or on Amazon combined with my other Gypsy Teacher blogs.]

“Every Wednesday:  I Want to Tell You About an Amazing Man”

When I was doing my research for my dissertation on early 20th century writers’ salons—W B Yeats and the Irish Literary Renaissance, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, Gertrude Stein and the American expatriates in Paris, and Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table—there was this character who kept popping up. Like Woody Allen’s Zelig he appeared in biographies, memoirs and letters of the time, as well as in group photos of people like Yeats, Picasso, Matisse, Ezra Pound, James Joyce. Who was this guy? He certainly had “such friends.”

pound_joyce_ford_quinn

James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford,  and John Quinn

When I first came across Quinn, I checked the bibliographies and saw that there was one biography about him, B. L. Reid’s The Man from New York:  John Quinn and His Friends (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1968). Earlier this year I began doing some research on the 1913 New York Armory Show to include in my work-in-progress about the writers’ salons, “Such Friends.” There was John Quinn again, buying art in Paris, organizing the first exhibition of international modern art in the United States, writing to Conrad and other struggling writers of the time.

Jealous that someone else had written the definitive history of this intriguing creature, I broke down and took the biography out of the library. I discovered that it’s not great—good research but not well-presented, hard to read. And, worst of all, the author makes this fascinating man’s life seem boring.

So here is the John Quinn I discovered. I’m still working on some of the details.

He was born in Tiffin, Ohio, on this date in 1870 of Irish immigrant parents; his father was a baker. He grew up in middle-class Fostoria, Ohio, and attended the University of Michigan. A family friend who became Secretary of the Treasury under President Benjamin Harrison offered Quinn a job with him in Washington, D.C. While working full-time in the federal government, he went to Georgetown University law school at night. After receiving his law degree, he earned an advanced degree in international relations from Harvard University. Not bad for the son of a shanty-Irish baker.

Quinn then moved to New York City, which was to be his home for the rest of his life. He predictably got a job with a major New York law firm and worked on a lot of high profile corporate cases. During a two-year period there were a lot of deaths in his family—parents, sisters, etc.—and he began to explore his Irish roots.

Right after the turn of the century he went to Ireland and, while attending a Gaelic language festival in the west, near Galway, met Lady Augusta Gregory and other friends of Yeats involved in the Irish Literary Renaissance. While helping them found the Abbey Theatre, he started his own law firm in 1906. As you do.

His successful firm was supported by retainers from major corporations, and he became involved in New York’s Tammany Hall politics. But when his candidate didn’t get the nomination at the 1912 Democratic Party convention, he got disgusted with the whole system (go figure). After that he turned his considerable energies to art and literature.

Quinn did delegate a lot of the work in his law firm when he was away, but, like a true control freak, he was always unhappy with the way his employees handled everything. During the first two decades of the 20th century he managed to:

  • Help organize the Armory Show,
  • Fight Congress to have a tariff on contemporary art changed,
  • Bail out the Abbey Theatre after they were arrested for performing John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in Philadelphia,
  • Have an affair with Lady Gregory and a number of other much younger women, some of whom he “shared” with Yeats,
  • Support Yeats’ father in New York City by buying his paintings and Yeats’ manuscripts,
  • Support James Joyce in Paris by buying his manuscripts as he wrote them,
  • Argue the original case to have excerpts of Ulysses published in the Little Review magazine in the United States, and
  • Amass an incredible collection of modern art, focused primarily on European painters.

During that time he kept up a detailed correspondence with all of the above as well as Maud Gonne, Augustus John and many other cultural luminaries of the early 20th century. Quite a guy. I get tired just thinking about all he accomplished.

Quinn died of intestinal cancer at the age of 54, and, having no children, was generous to his sister and niece, but willed that his art collection be sold off and dispersed among museums and collectors around the world. And it was.

Quinn and Yeats

John Quinn and William Butler Yeats

Yesterday I gave my first presentation about the Armory Show to a group of art collectors at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. I tried to communicate to them John Quinn’s enthusiasm for supporting the living artist as well as the art.

Currently I am doing more research about Quinn and plan to write an article about him. Eventually I would like to give him the decent biography he deserves. I’ll keep you posted.

See you next Wednesday.

Thanks for reading. You can e-mail me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

“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 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, February 21, 1920, 5, Holland Place Chambers, Kensington West, London

American poet Ezra Pound, 35, is writing to his friend in New York City, Irish-American lawyer and supporter of art and artists, John Quinn, 49:

Dear Quinn:

…Am writing this at [Edmund] Dulac’s where I have brought my typewriter in hope of finishing an article before tomorrow a.m.,…Fool Dulac is playing the pianola upstairs in the inane belief that it can’t be heard down here. As a matter of fact it wd. prevent me thinking out article if I weren’t making more noise with Corona on unpadded dining table. ANYHOW combination of harmonies makes consecutive thought impossible…

If I get to Venice I shall, naturally, try to get up to Trieste to see [James] Joyce. Unless the serbo-slovocroats are firing broadsides…

I have arranged two amusing meetings in course of past week, one between [author Major Clifford Hughes] Douglas and [Wickham] Steed, edtr. of the Times (and intelligent), second between D[ouglas]. and [John Maynard] Keynes, who is an ass. Latter reason probably why his book is so much advertised, can’t possibly do any damage to high finance. Keynes’ style appalling, picture of Woodrow [Wilson] merely what I cd. have told him five or six yrs. ago…

john-maynard-keynes

John Maynard Keynes

Joyce has sent on another chapter [Nausickaa from Ulysses], excellent start but think he gets a bit too too too at the end of it. Have suggested slight alterations…Perhaps everything ought to be said ONCE in the English language. At least J[oyce]. seems bent on saying it…Who am I to tamper with a work of genius. For bigod genius it is in parts…

pound_joyce_ford_quinn

James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford, John Quinn

My regards to the Yeats family [touring America]. (Mrs. Y. approves of you, but of very little else save the architecture.)

yours ever

E. P.

“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 30, 1920, New York City

Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 54, and his wife Georgie, 27, are enjoying the first few days of his American lecture tour. They have left their 11-month old daughter, Annie, back in Dublin with his sisters, and are looking forward to the freedom of traipsing around the United States for the next four months.

Although it is just sinking in that Prohibition started a couple of weeks ago, and they can’t get a drink in this town. Or any town.

Georgie has met her father-in-law, the painter John Butler Yeats, 80, for the first time, and finds him charming. He’s quite enamored of his new daughter-in-law as well, writing to Willie’s sister back in Ireland that Georgie has

no vast depths…[but] endless kindness and sympathy and I fancy a lot of practical talent.”

John Butler Yeats drawing

Chalk drawing of John Butler Yeats

Tonight the Yeatses are probably going to attend the Metropolitan Opera’s Oberon or The Elf King’s Oath, which their friend, Irish-American art collector, John Quinn, 49, has recommended. They are excited about seeing the performance by the fantastic Rosa Ponselle, just turned 23, one of the Met’s top young stars.

Rosa Ponselle

Rosa Ponselle

“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.

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

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.