“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, late September, 1921, Monk’s House, Rodmell, East Sussex

Oh, what a damned bore!”

Virginia Woolf, 39, had written to a friend this past summer.

She had been ill—and not working—for so long.

But now that it is autumn, with lovely weather and long walks out here in the countryside, she is feeling better and writing better than before.

Monk’s House, Rodmell

Virginia and her husband, Leonard, 40, had recently bought a used platen machine for their expanding Hogarth Press, which they run out of their London home. Virginia’s short story collection, Monday or Tuesday, which they published earlier this year, is selling well. And she is now close to finishing her next novel, Jacob’s Room.

One of many interruptions this month was the visit this past weekend of their friend, poet Tom Eliot, just turning 33. Virginia hadn’t been looking forward to it. She had written to her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, 42,

I suppose you wdn’t come for the 24th? When Eliot will be here?”

But Vanessa wasn’t available.

His stay turned out to be uneventful. Lots of chat about writing and books. Virginia confides in her diary that Tom’s visit

passed off successfully…& yet I am so disappointed to find that I am no longer afraid of him—”

*****

Eliot hadn’t mentioned this to the Woolfs this past weekend, but he is looking forward to a visit to a London nerve specialist. His wife, Vivien, 33, has made the appointment for him because they have both agreed that his job at Lloyds Bank, a summer visit from his American family, and his work on a major poem, are all affecting his health. They may be moving out of hectic London soon and are hoping that an upcoming trip to Paris to visit fellow ex-pat American poet Ezra Pound, 36, might help. He and Pound are going to work together on editing the poem.

Vivien and Tom Eliot

Vivien writes to one of their friends, jokingly, that she is seeking help for Tom but hasn’t “nearly finished my own nervous breakdown yet.”

But Vivien has written a much longer letter to her brother-in-law, archaeologist Henry Ware Eliot, 41, just gone back home to St. Louis. Not joking, she confides that she knows her husband is not in love with her anymore. And Vivien adds a postscript,

Good-bye Henry…And be personal, you must be personal, or else it’s no good. Nothing’s any good.”

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

This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War 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.

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 e-book versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, May 20, 1921, Grosvenor Gallery, Bond Street, London

The opening of the “Nameless Exhibition” here, sponsored by The Burlington Magazine, has caused a bit of controversy.

Poster for Nameless Exhibition by Roger Fry

The organizers, including Burlington founder and former editor Roger Fry, 54, and Professor of Fine Art at the Slade School Henry Tonks, 59, decided to make a brave move and hang a whole exhibit of paintings with no artists’ names attached. Not on the walls; not in the catalogue. They want to strike a blow against the cult of personality which has gathered around some artists.

Included are works by three of Roger’s Bloomsbury friends, his former lover Vanessa Bell, about to turn 42, her partner Duncan Grant, 36, and Slade School grad, Dora Carrington, 28.

Roger Fry by Vanessa Bell, 1912

Fry can’t wait to tell Vanessa that Tonks has hung one of her works, Visit, quite prominently, unaware that it is by a woman. Tonks goes on incessantly about how women painters are always imitating men.

Even though this is one of Carrington’s first important exhibits, all she is thinking about is her wedding tomorrow.

*****

Carrington has spent the past four years living with and in love with Bloomsbury writer Lytton Strachey, 41, at Mill House in Tidmarsh, Berkshire. Carrington is well aware that Lytton is openly gay, but he is fond of her and is providing her the literary education she lacked. In exchange she paints and runs the household.

About three years ago, into this lovely arrangement walked big, strong, Ralph Partridge, 27, an Oxford friend of Carrington’s younger brother. He’s fallen in love with Carrington and moved into Tidmarsh. And Lytton is interested in him.

Dora Carrington, Ralph Partridge and Lytton Strachey

Now that Ralph has gainful employment—working as an assistant at the Hogarth Press operated by Bloomsbury regulars Virginia Woolf, 39, and her husband Leonard, 40—he can afford to take a wife. Although Lytton is paying for the wedding.

Lytton has spent the past two months convincing Carrington to take the plunge. And the Woolfs approve also.

So Carrington has now agreed. She cries each night and writes Lytton long love letters. Ralph knows she’s not in love with him. Carrington feels this is the way to keep the three together.

Lytton is already in Venice. The newlyweds are going to meet up with him there in a few weeks on their honeymoon.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume 1 covering 1920 is available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, 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 e-book versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, April 17, 1921, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

Novelist Virginia Woolf, 39, is concerned about the sales of her most recent book. Her first short story collection, Monday or Tuesday, was published by her and her husband Leonard’s own Hogarth Press last month.

Monday or Tuesday, cover design by Vanessa Bell

Today she writes in her diary, “

Sales & revenues flag, & I much doubt if M. & T. will sell 500, or cover expenses.”

First, the book looks horrible. Terrible printing job. The Woolfs will never use that printer again.

Then their assistant, Ralph Partridge, 27, screwed up the publicity from the start by sending a review copy to the Times that didn’t include the publication date. All she got was a tiny write-up in an obscure part of the paper.

In the meantime, the new biography, Queen Victoria by her friend Lytton Strachey, 41, is featured in the paper with three columns of unabashed praise! Virginia has also heard that Lytton’s book sold 5,000 copies in the same week hers only moved 300. No wonder.

Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey

Lytton dedicated his book to her, and he has been complimentary about her collection, particularly the story “The String Quartet.”

But the slow sales are beginning to depress Virginia. On the other hand, when she receives reports of strong sales she worries that she is becoming too commercial.

A little over a week ago Virginia confided to her diary,

I ought to be writing Jacob’s Room; and I can’t, and instead I shall write down the reasons why I can’t…Well, you see, I’m a failure as a writer… And thus I can’t get on with Jacob…My temper sank and sank till for half an hour I was as depressed as I ever am. I mean I thought of never writing any more—save reviews…What depresses me is the thought that I have ceased to interest people…One does not want an established reputation, such as I think I was getting, as one of our leading female novelists. I have still, of course, to gather in all the private criticism, which is the real test.”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s Volume I covering 1920 is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.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

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh.

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 e-book formats.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, March 8, 1921, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

She’s feeling rather pleased with herself.

Novelist Virginia Woolf, 39, has just brought out her first collection of short stories, published by her and her husband, Leonard, 40, at their own six-year-old Hogarth Press.

Monday or Tuesday is one of the more ambitious projects they have tackled, having started with individual stories. This is full book length, with some pieces that have appeared before and some new.

Her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, 41, did a woodcut for the cover, which she has done for many of Hogarth’s books. This time they also had Vanessa do a few more for the inside pages.

Monday or Tuesday with cover by Vanessa Bell

Virginia feels that both the writing and the art are up to her high standards.

However.

The printing is a mess.

The Woolfs trusted McDermott’s Prompt Press, which they have used before, and what they got is what Virginia describes to a friend as “an odious object…[which leaves] black stains wherever it touches.” And all 1,000 copies are filled with typographical errors.

That problem is no trouble to fix. They’ll correct the typos for the Harcourt Brace American edition and never use McDermott again.

The problem she is having trouble fixing is her third novel, Jacob’s Room. Virginia is trying to continue the experiments with style she used in the newer short stories in Monday or Tuesday. But working here in the Woolfs’ house in Richmond, with the business of the Hogarth Press going on all around her—it’s just not coming.  She likes to write in her head when she walks out on the Sussex countryside surrounding their country home, Monk’s House. Earlier this month she wrote in her diary,

If I were at Rodmell I should have thought it all out walking on the flats. I should be in writing trim.”

But this short story collection is giving her confidence. She writes in her diary now,

And I’m not nearly as pleased as I was depressed; & yet in a state of security; fate cannot touch me; the reviewers may snap; & sales decrease…[I have overcome my fear of being] dismissed as negligible.”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I, covering 1920, is available in print and e-book versions on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University 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.

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 e-book formats.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, October, 1920, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

The scheme seems to be working.

Leonard Woolf, 39, co-founder and owner with his wife Virginia, 38, of the five-year-old Hogarth Press, is poring over the company accounts. It appears the subscription scheme the Woolfs implemented almost a year and a half ago is working.

Hogarth Press logo, designed by Virginia’s sister, Vanessa Bell

The two-tiered system was set up so “A” list subscribers pay £1 for a commitment to buy all the titles printed by Hogarth in a given year. Last year there were five, including T. S. Eliot’s Poems.

“B” list subscribers pay nothing up front, but are notified early of new releases and can choose which they want to buy.

So far, Hogarth has 34 people on the “A” list and 15 on the “B” list.

Truth be told, almost all of the subscribers are the Woolfs’ friends and family. Some are well-known writers among their Bloomsbury Group friends—essayist Lytton Strachey, 40, economist John Maynard Keynes, 37. Some are established authors in their own right—H. G. Wells, 54, whose War of the Worlds had been a big hit a while back, and Rebecca West, 27, already known for her novel about the Great War, The Return of the Soldier, and a biography of American writer Henry James.

Hiring an assistant to help out two or three days a week, Ralph Partridge, 26—chosen on Lytton’s recommendation—also seems to have been a good move. The Woolfs have promised to pay him £100 for the year, as well as half of their net profits. Last year Hogarth Press netted a respectable 13 pounds, 14 shillings and 2 pence. Young Ralph is working on the press in their home, setting type, etc., as well as serving as Leonard’s secretary. So Leonard and Virginia feel that the expense will pay off.

Lytton Strachey and Ralph Partridge

Ralph has been living out in the country with Lytton and their mutual love, painter Dora Carrington, 27. Now that he’s got a job, Ralph has convinced Carrington to move into a Bloomsbury Gordon Square townhouse with him. He hopes by the end of the year to finally convince her to marry him. Lytton is encouraging this.

“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.

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

This fall I am talking about writers’ salons in Paris and New York after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at the University of Pittsburgh and 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.

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”: 100 Years Ago, September, 1920, Monk’s House, East Sussex, England

Tom is coming this weekend.

At their East Sussex home, Monk’s House, Virginia, 38, and Leonard Woolf, 39, often welcome weekend guests.

This weekend, one of their star authors at their own Hogarth Press, American ex-patriate Thomas Stearns Eliot, about to turn 32, is coming for the first time.

T. S. Eliot

A few years ago, they were very impressed with Eliot’s poem published by The Egoist Press. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and wrote asking if they could bring out a collection of his poetry. They published 200 copies of Tom’s Poems last year, selling for 2 shillings, 6 pence each. When Leonard closed out the account last month, they had paid Tom 4 pounds, 17 shillings, 4 pence, and made a nice profit for themselves of 9 pounds, 6 shillings, 10 ½ pence. The Woolfs feel that this is an indication, after five years in business, that the Hogarth Press is making good progress toward becoming a “real” publisher.

Ovid Press, also based in London, has published a private edition of Eliot’s Ara Vus Prec—vellum paper, Moroccan leather binding, gold lettering—which has almost all the same poems in it.

From the beginning, Virginia and Leonard have been clear that they are most interested in what the author has to say. The Hogarth Press books definitely look good, and sometimes experiment with typography, but they are meant to be read more than just looked at.

Ara Vus Prec published by the Ovid Press

The risk the Woolfs took on publishing the unknown Eliot has paid off for him as well—the major American publisher Alfred A. Knopf brought out a US version of his Poems earlier this year.

Tom still has a day job at a bank, but some of his friends and fans are talking about putting together a fund to support him and his work.

Virginia is mostly looking forward to talking to Tom about his writing over tea. She feels that sometimes his words need just a bit more explanation.

“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.

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

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.

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.

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

“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, April 10, 1920, Monk’s House, Rodmell, East Sussex, England

Novelist Virginia Woolf, 38, and her husband, Leonard, 39, are getting accustomed to life in their new country home, the 18th century cottage they bought at auction just last year.

Today she confides to her diary,

We only slept by snatches last night, and at 4 am turned a mouse out of Leonard’s bed. Mice crept and rattled all night through. Then the wind got up. Hasp of the window broke. Poor Leonard out of bed for the fifth time to wedge it with a toothbrush. So I say nothing about our projects at Monks, though the view across the meadows to Caburn is before me now; and the hyancinths blooming, and the orchard walk. Then being alone there—breakfast in the sun—posts—no servants—how nice it all is!”

Virginia is working on her third novel and is thinking that she and Leonard could publish this one themselves through their own five-year-old Hogarth Press. That would be better than having to submit her work again to her half-brother’s publishing company, Gerald Duckworth & Co.

monk's house from road

Monk’s House today

“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 Osher Lifelong Learning program.

Manager as Muse, 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, January 1, 1920…

 

America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

That was 100 years ago. So here we are again. At the beginning of the Twenties. Will this be a similar decade?!

There’s one way to tell:  To look back at certain points and document what was happening a century before, with the artists and writers who were “Such Friends”:

William Butler Yeats and the Irish Literary Renaissance,

Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group,

Gertrude Stein and the Americans in Paris, and

Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table,

in Ireland, England, France and America.

As the new decade begins…

Irish poet W B Yeats, 54, is getting ready to go back to the United States on his third American lecture tour, this time with his wife, Georgie Hyde-Lees, 28. They are leaving the baby Anne, just 11 months old, back in Ireland with his sisters.

Yeats and Geo 1923

Georgie and William Butler Yeats

Hogarth Press owners, novelist Virginia Woolf, about to turn 38, and her husband Leonard, 39, have been celebrating the holidays at Monk’s House in Sussex, which they bought last year at auction. This coming year, they want to spend more time outside of too-busy London.

Va and Leon

Virginia and Leonard Woolf

In Paris, American writer Gertrude Stein, 45, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 42, are still getting back to normal after the Armistice. Their apartment, on the Left Bank near the Luxembourg Gardens, had hosted salons for all the local painters before the Great War. Who will come now?

Gert and Alice with the paintings

Alice B. Toklas and her partner Gertrude Stein with Picassos

Vanity Fair writers Dorothy Parker, 26, Robert Benchley, 30, and their “such friends” are lunching regularly at the Algonquin Hotel in midtown Manhattan. And trying to drink up in the last few weeks before the Volstead Act—Prohibition—goes into effect. It won’t slow them down.

parkerbenchley cartoon

Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley

Join me on a journey through the “Literary 1920s,” tracking these characters in their place and time, 100 years ago. Happy New Year!

“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.