“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, September 12, 1922, Manhattan Municipal Term Court, New York City, New York; and near Taos, New Mexico

City Magistrate George W. Simpson, 51, is issuing his decision in the case brought against publisher Thomas A. Seltzer, 47, by John Sumner, 45, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (NYSSV), for publishing three “obscene” books, including the novel Women in Love by English writer D. H. Lawrence, just turned 37 yesterday.

Women in Love, U. S. edition

Based on his own reading, as well as expert testimony from critics such as Gilbert Seldes, 29, managing editor of The Dial magazine—who testified that the novel “would not interest a child and be no more exciting to an adult than a railroad timetable”—Simpson dismisses all charges and orders that the confiscated books be returned to the publisher.

Echoing a decision issued just 10 days earlier in the case Halsey v. NYSSV, Simpson states that

Mere extracts separated from their context do not constitute criteria by which books might be judged obscene,”

and that the books in question have value as literature.

Seltzer’s attorney announces that they will bring suit against Sumner and the NYSSV. And Seltzer knows that sales will soar.

Advertisement that Thomas Seltzer, Inc., plans to place in the New York Times


The author in question, D. H. Lawrence, arrived with his wife, Frieda, 43, at their new home in Taos, New Mexico, just yesterday. What a birthday present.

After more than a year of correspondence between the two, Lawrence finally met his hostess, Mabel Dodge, 43, when he and Frieda stepped off the train yesterday in Lamy, New Mexico, 90 miles south.

Dodge, swathed in turquoise and dripping silver jewelry, was accompanied by her partner, a rather silent Native American Tony Luhan, 43, who drove them here to Taos in Mabel’s Cadillac.

Mabel Dodge and Tony Luhan

Dodge has fixed up a roomy house for the Lawrences, just 200 yards away from the one she shares with Luhan, about a mile from the town’s central plaza.

Lawrence is impressed with their new surroundings. But early this morning, he has gone to Mabel’s house to begin working with her on the novel she wants him to write. She invites him to come up to her roof terrace where she is sunbathing. Passing through her bedroom, Lawrence sees her unmade bed and instinctively makes a disgusted face, which Mabel sees. She is disappointed that the author she has put so much faith in is so small-minded.

Gates to Mabel Dodge’s house

Lawrence tells Mabel that his wife doesn’t want them working together at Mabel’s house; there is plenty of room for them at the Lawrences’. So Dodge and Lawrence gather round the table there.

Frieda makes a point of stomping around the house while loudly sweeping and singing.

“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, 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.