“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July 30, 1922, Central Park West, New York City, New York

If Irish-American lawyer and patron of the arts John Quinn, 52, wants to get out of the city as planned to spend all of August with his sister and niece in the Adirondacks, he has a bit of correspondence to catch up on.

Quinn has been corresponding with his emissary in Paris, Henri-Pierre Roche, 43, about leaving his best French paintings to the government of France, to be cared for in the Louvre. Roche has been negotiating to have Quinn acquire The Circus by Georges Seurat. Roche wrote to him at the beginning of the month about a crazy day when he and Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, 40, went flying around Paris carrying a Cezanne landscape with them in a taxi, stopping at every shop to buy up all the suitable frames they could find.

The Circus by Georges Seurat

One of the writers Quinn supports, American T. S. Eliot, 33, living in London, has written to give him power of attorney when negotiating a contract with Boni and Liveright to publish his latest work, an untitled lengthy poem. They are not sure, however, if it will be lengthy enough to appear as a book. Eliot writes that he is planning to add some notes to make it fatter. Quinn is finally getting around to reading the typescript Eliot has sent and is turning it over to his office secretary to make a copy that can be submitted to Liveright.

Typescript of poem by T. S. Eliot

Quinn is finishing off a lengthy letter to one of his Irish friends, poet and painter AE (George Russell, 55). Their mutual friend, Lady Augusta Gregory, 70, had recently asked Quinn to recommend painters for inclusion in the Hugh Lane Gallery, which she is trying to establish in memory of her nephew who went down with the Lusitania seven years ago. Quinn reports to AE that he told her that of the dead ones he would rank, in order, Cezanne, Seurat (much better than Renoir), and Rousseau. He puts Gauguin and van Gogh a bit farther down.

Of living artists he would include Picasso, Georges Braque, 40; Andre Derain, 42; and Henri Matisse, 52; in the first tier. In the second, Raoul Dufy, 45; Constantin Brancusi, 46—whom he has become good friends with—and Georges Rouault, 51.

Quinn tells AE that he would add a third tier of the living:  Juan Gris, 35; Marie Laurencin, 39; and Jacques Villon, about to turn 47, among others.

The Winged Horse by AE

Quinn’s longest letter is to another Irish friend, poet and playwright, William Butler Yeats, 57. He brings Willie up to date on the recent funeral of his father, whom Quinn had taken care of during the past 15 years in New York City. The Yeats family decided it would be better for Dad to be buried in the States, and Quinn arranged a site in upstate New York: 

If you and your sisters could see the place, I am sure you would have approved of [our] selection. When Lady Gregory was here the last time, lecturing, she told me one day, half in earnest and half in fun, that if she died in this country she wanted to be buried where she died, unless she died in Pittsburgh. She refused to be buried in Pittsburgh…One day downtown, when I was having coffee after lunch with two or three men, one of them said:  ‘Times change. Now there is [famous actress] Lillian Russell. In the old days she was supposed to have had many lovers and she was married and divorced four or five times. But years go by, and she marries again, and settles down, and finally dies in the odor of—’

‘Pittsburgh,’ said I.

Lady Gregory refused to be buried in the odor of Pittsburgh.”

Quinn ends by congratulating Yeats on his honorary degree from Trinity College and asks that Willie’s wife send him some photos of their children and Thoor Ballylee, the tower they are living in.

Now he is ready to pack up and go on a well-earned vacation.

Pittsburgh, 1912, when Lady Gregory visited with The Abbey Theatre

“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.

Later in the year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes 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.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, Christmas Eve, December 24, 1920, 8 rue Dupuytren, Left Bank, Paris

It’s been a good year for American ex-patriate bookstore owner Sylvia Beach, 33.

Her shop, Shakespeare & Co., has been open here for more than a year now, despite economic uncertainty in the city. She wrote recently to her sister back in New Jersey:

My business is maintaining itself in spite of crashes all about. The Bon Marche, the Louvre, the Printemps, different automobile manufacturers and other goods are tottering on the brink. The Galeries [Lafayette] are very low indeed they do say. No one will buy anything till the prices drop and the manufacturers and shops are left with floods of stuff on their hands which they would rather hold on to than sell at a sacrifice—naturellement.”

Galeries Lafayette Catalogue

She has seen an increase in both the subscribers to her lending library and the other American and British ex-patriates who gather in her shop.

Beach has taken on one particular Irish writer, James Joyce, 38, as a special project. She loved his novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and has been supporting him now that he is working on a formidable opus, Ulysses.

This year it has been serialized in a “little mag” in New York City, The Little Review, but issues have been confiscated by the authorities and the publisher and editor are awaiting trial on obscenity charges!

From talking with Joyce, Sylvia knows that the magazine’s lawyer, John Quinn, 50, who buys up pieces of the original manuscript as Joyce writes it, is trying to convince the stubborn Irishman to withdraw his novel from The Little Review, and have a legitimate American publisher—like Huebsch or Boni and Liveright—bring out a private edition of the whole work when it is finished. This would be treated differently under the law, as it wouldn’t be sent through the mail, as the magazine is.

Joyce is having none of it. He sends cryptic cables to Quinn, written in code, and Quinn telegraphs back, exasperated.

Today, Beach has arranged a special meeting for Joyce.

Sylvia and her partner, Adrienne Monnier, 28, who owns the nearby French language bookshop, La Maison des Amis des Livres, have been trying to introduce Joyce into the literary life of Paris. Today they have invited Valery Larbaud, 39, the posh French poet, who recently gave a talk in Adrienne’s store, to meet Joyce. Larbaud was impressed by Portrait, which he read on Sylvia’s recommendation, and has expressed a desire to meet the author.

James Joyce, Sylvia Beach, and Adrienne Monnier in Shakespeare & Co.

Larbaud has many influential friends in the French literary establishment, and Sylvia and Adrienne think the two men will hit it off.

Tomorrow, they are going with Larbaud to an elegant midnight Christmas party with some of their other French friends, including the well-known poet Leon-Paul Fargue, 44, and the novelist Luc Durtain, 39.

Sylvia has already made her New Year’s resolutions which will make 1921 even better:  No more coffee, tea or cigarettes. Lots more nights at the Ballets Russes and Comedie Francaise.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, soon to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

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.

My 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.

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