“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, March 16, 1923, 58 Central Park West, New York City, New York

The host, corporate lawyer and art collector John Quinn, 52, has planned this as a double celebration.

His niece Mary is turning 16 today, so he has invited her; her mother, his sister Julia Anderson, 37; Julia’s good-for-nothing husband; and a few friends to his apartment for the festivities.

Central Park West

In addition, today he is un-crating his most recent art acquisition, Le Cirque by the late French post-impressionist Georges Seurat.

The Circus has been sitting in the building’s basement since arriving from France about a week ago. Today, when the workmen try to bring it upstairs to Quinn’s penthouse, they discover it is too big to fit in the elevator! They figure out a way to safely place it on the roof of the cage and carefully get it up to the apartment.

And it is worth the effort. The painting is exquisite; Quinn has instructed his French buyer that he will leave it to the Louvre in his will. Champagne toasts all around, both to Mary and Le Cirque!

Le Cirque by Georges Seurat

The Circus didn’t come cheap. Quinn paid a couple thousand pounds for it, in installments. But he is now focusing his collection on French artists and selling off a lot of his other works.

Quinn feels it is important for him to host family parties like this one. At the beginning of this year he had quite a health scare, waking up to find himself lying on the floor next to his bed, unable to move for an hour until his valet found him.

Quinn needed rest so he went to Hot Springs spa in Virginia—but stopping off on the way to attend to one of his corporate tax cases in Washington, D. C.

In the past six months he has litigated over 50 cases for millions of dollars, but he had to turn down an offer to buy a van Gogh from his London art dealer. Too pricey.

The health scare has made Quinn realize that he needs to slow down, exercise more, get a good night’s sleep. Spend time with his family.

Recently he received a letter from one of the many writers he supports, American ex-pat poet living in London, T. S. Eliot, 34, who wrote: 

I have not even time to go to a dentist or to have my hair cut…I am worn out. I cannot go on.”

Quinn wants to tell him, make the time. It’s important. Don’t allow yourself to be so driven.

“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. They are also on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, 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, late August, 1920, Ogunquit, Maine

Irish-American art collector and supporter of the arts John Quinn, 50, is finally able to relax.

Earlier this summer he had rented this cottage on the Maine coast, for his sister, Julia Quinn Anderson, in her mid-thirties [but not her damned husband!]; her daughter, Mary, 13; the French couple who serve as Quinn’s house servants; and a professional nurse to care for Julia.

Main Street, Ogunquit, Maine

Julia is recuperating from a bout of illness, and Quinn had planned to stay with them up here for this whole month. But work in his busy Manhattan law firm had kept him in the city until just last week. He’s hoping they can all stay here well in to September.

Before leaving for this vacation, Quinn had made a point of getting caught up on all his correspondence:

To English painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, 37, he wrote complaining about his disappointment with the Welsh painter Augustus John, 42: 

“I responded for years to his calls for advance of money, and he promised me the first chance at his best work, but he constantly broke his word…So I finally broke with him.”

Augustus John, self-portrait, 1920

To his friend, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 55, he wrote,

“Much as I admire the work of modern French painters, they sometimes seem to me to carry their simplification, their abhorrence of a story, of a complete scene, too far and to go on too much for flowers and fruit and still-lifes and simplification of design that, seen by themselves, are satisfying, but they would become monotonous if seen in a large group of the same kind…Now I must write to…[Abbey Theatre director] Lady Gregory, 68, to whom I regret to say I have not written in some months. I hope that when writing to her…you told her how busy and overworked I have been.”

To novelist Joseph Conrad, 62, whose manuscripts Quinn has been buying, he wrote praising his latest work, and then added a cautionary note: 

“…[I have] learned by bitter experience what it is to overwork and to drive one’s body more than it can stand…[For the past 25 years, I have] worked hard, had made some money, and spent it or given it away without thought…”

Now Quinn needs a rest. Here, with his only family.

My thanks to the Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit for their help in researching this post.

“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.

To register for free to attend my webinar “Such Friends”: The Founding of the Abbey Theatre, this Friday, August 28, 2020, from 2 to 3 pm EDT, click here, My previous webinar, “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.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.

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.