“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, January 12, 1923, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

English novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, has just come down to breakfast, when her maid gives her some startling news,

Mrs. Murry’s dead! It says so in the paper,”

exclaims Nellie Boxall, 31.

Confused, Virginia reads the obituary in the Times, which describes her friend, New Zealand-born Katherine Mansfield, 34, as having “A career of great literary promise…[Her] witty and penetrating novel reviews…A severe shock to her friends.”

Katherine Mansfield

This is definitely a severe shock to Virginia. Last year she turned down Katherine’s invitation to visit her in France, and last fall passed up an opportunity to see Katherine when she was visiting London. She always thought that she’d see her again this summer.

Katherine’s book, Prelude, was one of the first Virginia and her husband Leonard, 41, published when they started their Hogarth Press about five years ago.

More deeply, Virginia is feeling the loss of one of the few writers she felt truly close to. Katherine won’t be there to read what Virginia writes. Her rival is gone.

“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 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.

Next month I will be talking the literary 1920s in Paris and New York City in the Osher 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 also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, June 19, 1922, Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London

The party seems to be going well.

Art critic Clive Bell, 40, is hosting the dinner party following this evening’s meeting of The Memoir Club.

Gordon Square

The Club was started a couple of years ago by about a dozen friends, family and lovers who live in and around the Bloomsbury section of London. Kept totally private, the main purpose of the organization is to get its members thinking about writing their own autobiographies. And because those who read out papers at the get-togethers are bound by the rules to be as candid as possible, The Memoir Club provides delightful entertainment as well.

Tonight’s presenters include Lytton Strachey, 42, whose biography of Queen Victoria was a big hit last year, and novelist Edward Morgan Forster, 43, recently returned from another trip to India.

Forster is in particularly good form tonight. By happy accident he has become the main topic of conversation in the letters page of the London Times.

At the beginning of the month, the Times’ review of Da Silva’s Widow and Other Stories by “Lucas Malet”—in reality Mary St. Leger Kinsley, 70—compared the book to Forster’s 1911 collection of six short stories, The Celestial Omnibus. Truth be told, Forster’s hadn’t sold well.

“Lucas Malet”

But the mention in the Times set off a volley of letters of praise for Forster’s writing, almost every day for two weeks, headlined “Mr. E. M. Forster’s Books.” This culminated in a letter from Kingsley herself who claimed she had never heard of him.

Well. She sure has heard of him now. The publisher of Celestial Omnibus wrote in offering a free copy of Forster’s book to anyone who made the same claim. A previous publisher got in touch, inquiring if Morgan was working on another novel. And sales soared.

The Celestial Omnibus

Reveling in his newfound fame, Morgan is feeling confident sharing pieces of his memoir and chatting with his Bloomsbury friends.

At the dinner, most of the discussion however is about a new long poem by another friend of theirs, the American ex-patriate Thomas Stearns Eliot, 33, which he calls The Waste Land. Eliot has been reading it out to friends over the past few months, and writer Mary Hutchinson, 33, Clive’s current mistress, calls it “Tom’s autobiography—a melancholy one.”

Mary Hutchinson and Clive Bell

Clive’s sister-in-law, novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, agrees with Mary’s opinion of the poem, but Virginia has been jealous of Hutchinson in the past. Tonight Mary is being quite kind. Virginia records in her diary later that Mary “crossed the room & purred in my ear.”

“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 as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This month I am talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after The Great War at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Carnegie-Mellon University.

In the fall, I will be talking about the centenary of The Waste Land 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.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, December, 1921, Richmond, London; Lausanne, Switzerland; and Taormina, Sicily

At the beginning of the month, the London Times reports that, because of an increase in

winter sickness…persons with weak hearts or chests must avoid rapid changes of temperature, which severely tax the circulation and which lower bodily resistance to infection.”

The UK is on track for more than 36,000 deaths from influenza this year, mostly women.

*****

In Richmond, southwest London, Virginia Woolf, 39, hangs up the phone after talking to the editor of the Times Literary Supplement. He wants her to change the word “lewd” in her review of Henry James’ collection of short stories to “obscene.” She says, fine.

She thinks, now that she has enough income from the Hogarth Press to spend her time writing novels, in the new year she won’t have to compromise and write reviews anymore.

Virginia has been relatively healthy these past few months, but now she’s feeling a bit of a cold and tiredness coming on.

London

*****

In Lausanne, Switzerland, T. S. Eliot, 33, recuperating from a nervous breakdown, has to tell his editor at The Dial, Scofield Thayer, just turned 32, that there will be a delay in his next “London Letter” for the magazine. There’s no way it will appear until at least April, meaning a seven-month gap in columns.

Eliot blames it on a bad bout of the flu. He is using any energy he has right now to work on his long poem.

Lausanne, Switzerland

*****

In Taormino, Sicily, English ex-pat David Herbert Lawrence, 36, has sent off to his New York and London agents packets of revised short stories.

Now he’s heading back to bed with an irritating case of the flu which won’t go away.

Lawrence is, however, actually looking forward to spending Christmas sick in bed.

I hate Christmas,”

he writes to a friend.

Taormino, Sicily

“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 as signed copies at Riverstone Books, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and in print and e-book formats on Amazon. If they can’t get it to you in time for gift giving, I can. Email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early in the new year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at 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 also 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, 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, 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.