“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, December 20, 1920, West 12th Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York

Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 28, is writing to her mother in Massachusetts, who is still lingering in the Cape Cod cottage they shared for a time this summer.

Just last week, Edna had gone to the wedding of her sister Kathleen, 23, here in New York at the Hotel Brevort. Her sister looked uncomfortable; probably because she was regretting giving up a modelling opportunity to marry this guy. Edna had been feeling weak; mostly because of the botched abortion she had a few weeks before.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

But Edna just tells her mother that she had bronchitis and been

quite sick…[from] a small nervous breakdown.”

The good news is that Vanity Fair, where Edna has been having her poems published quite regularly, is going to pay her a good price for the stories she has been selling to rival magazine Ainslee’s under her pseudonym, Nancy Boyd. Ainslee’s had offered to double her fee if they could use her real name, but she wants to keep a distance between that popular trash she writes and her more serious poetry.

Ainslee’s magazine, April 1920

Better yet, Vanity Fair is making her a foreign correspondent and sending her to Paris in the beginning of the new year. She writes to her mother that she desperately needs to get away from New York.

She tells one of her beaus, Vanity Fair managing editor Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 25,

I’ll be 30 in a minute!”

Edna finishes the letter to her mother and starts packing a trunk for France:  Her blue silk umbrella. A pair of velvet galoshes with fur trim. And, of course, her portable Corona typewriter.

“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.

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

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. Early next year I will be talking about Perkins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at 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.