America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it. –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.
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.
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?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.