“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, mid-September, 1920, New York City, New York

Alexander McKaig, 25, is enjoying a quiet evening in his New York City apartment, when in through the door bursts his friend and former Princeton classmate, F. Scott Fitzgerald, about to turn 24, and his new bride, Zelda, 20. Fighting. As always.

Apparently, they had just jumped on a train to Manhattan when their most recent squabble brought them to the Westport, Connecticut, train station, near their current rented home. Zelda had almost been run over by a train while crossing the Saugatuck River railroad bridge.

Since the Fitzgeralds moved to Westport early in the summer, McKaig’s impression is that they party and fight all the time. The most recent big blow out had been over Labor Day weekend.

Zelda Fitzgerald, back row; Scott Fitzgerald, front row; Alex McKaig, far right; with other partygoers in Westport, Connecticut

Why all the drama? Scott’s writing career appears to be going well. Based on the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise, earlier this year, his publisher, Scribner’s and Sons, brought out a collection of his short stories, Flappers and Philosophers, just last week.

Flapper and Philosophers cover

The Fitzgeralds are always complaining about having no money. But Alex knows that an advance on the Scribner’s royalties bought Zelda a new fur coat. And Fitzgerald has sold some of his stories to Hollywood movie studios for thousands of dollars.

What on earth are they always fighting about?!

After listening to Zelda yet again threaten to leave Scott for good, McKaig determines that he won’t attend their next upcoming drunken party in Westport.

“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.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with 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 on the website of PICT Classic Theatre.

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.

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, mid-September, 1920, Boston, Massachusetts

Irish-American lawyer, John Quinn, 50, and his family—sister Julia Quinn Anderson, in her mid-thirties; niece Mary, 13; two household servants and a private nurse—are at the Boston South Station waiting for their train back to Quinn’s home in New York City.

Boston South Station

They have all just finished a lovely long holiday in a cottage in Ogunquit on the coast of Maine, courtesy of Quinn. John wasn’t able to join them until just a few weeks ago. But he really appreciated relaxing at the resort. He hired a car and driver from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to bring them here to Boston—well worth the cost, including $12 tip.

Quinn notices that Boston is, as he later writes to a friend,

turned over to the Irish, who turned out…one hundred thousand strong to greet [Irish politician Eamon de Valera, 37]. I am told that 70 percent of the population of Boston is Irish…There is one spot on the earth where the Irish are on top.”

De Valera, self-proclaimed President of Dáil Éireann, the Parliament of the newly proclaimed Irish Republic, addresses a crowd of 50,000 at Fenway Park near the end of his American tour, selling bonds to support his new government.

De Valera audience at Fenway Park

Nearby, two Italian immigrants, Nicola Sacco, 29, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, 32, are indicted for a robbery and double murder at a shoe factory in Braintree, Massachusetts, last April.

For silent newsreel footage of de Valera’s trip to Boston, click here

“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.

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 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.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, September, 1920, 57 West 57th Street, mid-town Manhattan

To be honest, it’s not great.

The apartment that free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, 27, is planning to rent at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 57th Street on the Upper West Side, is not great.

But Parker feels that she and her husband, Eddie, also 27, a veteran of the Great War, really need a change.

Currently they are living farther uptown on 71st and West End Avenue. Eddie seems to have his morphine addiction under control, but still drinks. He has started back to work at Paine Webber, and she is selling lots of stories, articles and poems to magazines like Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal.

But the Parkers definitely need a change, and this could be it.

Dorothy has been looking around midtown and hasn’t come up with any better alternatives. One place an agent had shown her was much too big. She told him,

All I need is room enough to lay a hat and a few friends.”

This dusty three-story building, right near the rattling, noisy Sixth Avenue El, has a tiny place available on the top floor.

The Sixth Avenue El

The studios are designed for artists to use, not necessarily live in. One of the illustrators here is Neysa McMein, 32, whose apartment is used as a drinking hangout by many of their mutual friends, writers who lunch regularly at the Algonquin Hotel, right off Sixth Avenue on West 44th Street, a short walk away.

Neysa McMein

Another advantage is the Swiss Alps restaurant, on the ground floor of the building. They deliver.

So Parker is determined to sign a lease and move in with her seed-spilling canary, Onan, her not yet housebroken Scottish terrier, Woodrow Wilson, and her still traumatized husband.

If that doesn’t save this marriage, nothing will.

“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.

Read about Dorothy Parker’s ashes being re-interred in New York City here.

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

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 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.

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, August 16, 1920, Westport, Connecticut

It’s been a wild summer, thank God.”

Zelda Fitzgerald, 20, is writing to a friend.

Her husband, F. Scott, 23, has been spending long hours working on his second novel, The Flight of the Rocket. He has described it to his publisher, Charles Scribner, II [“Old C. S.”], 65,

How [the hero] and his beautiful young wife are wrecked on the shoals of dissipation is told in the story….I hope [it] won’t disappoint the critics who liked my first one [This Side of Paradise].”

Zelda manages to drive into New York City fairly often, with and without her husband. And carry on a bit of an affair with Smart Set magazine co-editor, George Jean Nathan, 38, whose specialties are absinthe cocktails and married women.

Mencken and Nathan

Smart Set editors H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan

Recently, Nathan had invited both Fitzgeralds to a midweek party at his West 44th Street apartment at the Royalton Hotel, so Scott could meet Nathan’s fellow editor, H. L. Mencken, 39. The young novelist was thrilled to get to know one of his literary heroes, who rarely shows up at these midtown Manhattan parties. Nathan had managed to procure three cases of bootleg gin for the occasion.

Zelda is describing what she remembers of the party to her friend,

I cut my tail on a broken bottle and can’t possibly sit on the three stitches that are in it now—The bottle was bath salts —I was boiled—The place was a tub somewhere.”

Zelda has no idea how she ended up in Nathan’s tub, but she has been known to take impromptu baths at parties before.

A few weeks ago, Scott had written to his agent,

I can’t seem to stay solvent—but I think if you can advance me $500…I’ll be able to survive the summer.”

“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.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

This fall I will be 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.

My presentation, “Such Friends”:  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, is available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre. The program begins at the 11 minute mark, and my presentation at 16 minutes.

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, early August 1920, law offices, 31 Nassau Street, New York City, New York

Margaret Anderson, 33, founder and publisher of the six-year-old magazine The Little Review, doesn’t want to have to be here.

But her magazine needs money. Again. And this is one of the only ways she knows how to get it.

The lawyer she is waiting to see, patron of the arts John Quinn, 50, has been a key source of her funding for the past few years. The magazine’s foreign editor, American ex-pat poet Ezra Pound, 34, had brought them together. The first time they met, three years ago, at Quinn’s fashionable penthouse apartment, looking out over Central Park West, Anderson had been impressed. Quinn wanted to help bankroll the magazine, but also felt he could tell them how to run it. On an art collector-lawyer’s budget. Not realistic for a semi-monthly publication produced out of the Greenwich Village apartment she shares with her partner, Jane Heap, 36, editor of The Little Review.

Marg Anderson c 1920

Margaret Anderson

Quinn had pulled together some American investors and given Pound money to find and pay Europe’s best poetry contributors for the magazine.

More recently, The Little Review has attracted the attention of the authorities, particularly the US Post Office. Quinn had defended the first charge brought against them for publishing an allegedly obscene short story which was distributed through the mails. Now their serialization of Ulysses, the latest work by Pound’s find, James Joyce, 38, the Irish writer living in Paris, has been under threat of confiscation. Quinn is going to defend them again, if needs be. Anderson hopes.

Now she needs more cash. She hadn’t even bothered to phone Quinn to ask if she could come by his office. Anderson is wearing one of her best grey suits; her blonde hair is tucked under her little black hat; she’s lost some weight; she’s learned the way to smile at Quinn to make him think that she just might be interested in him. [She isn’t.]

The Little Review is once again in danger of going under. Could Quinn go back to some of the original investors he’d rounded up and see if any is willing to provide more support? Being the first to publish Joyce’s work in America is a real coup.

Quinn is tired of asking his friends for cash. He gives Anderson a check for $200 and sends her away. He’s determined that this will be his last contribution to The Little Review. And regrets having given them this one.

“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.

My presentation, “Such Friends”:  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, is available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre. The program begins at the 11 minute mark, and my presentation at 16 minutes.

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.

This fall I will be 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.

.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, Windsor, Vermont; Westport, Connecticut; and New York City, New York

For the first time since he moved from the advertising department, at New York publisher Charles Scribner’s & Sons, up to the editorial department six years ago, Maxwell Perkins, 35, feels as though he is entitled to a vacation.

He is back in Windsor, Vermont, where he had spent most of his summers while growing up. It’s peaceful. And quiet. And brings back good memories.

Windsor VT Old So Church

The Old South Church in Windsor, Vermont

However, as usual, he worries about his writers. Particularly his new discovery F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, whose debut novel, This Side of Paradise, is earning Perkins this welcome rest.

Max decides he’d better send Scott his summer address, just in case he needs to be in touch:

Maxwell Perkins

Windsor, Vermont.”

Down south in Westport, Connecticut, Scott and his new bride, Zelda, about to turn 20, are spending most of their summer supporting the local bootlegger.

Working on short stories as well as his second novel, Scott flirts with Eugenia Bankhead, 19, sister of stage and screen actress Tallulah, 18, both old schoolmates of Zelda.

Zelda fights back by chatting up Smart Set co-editor George Jean Nathan, 37.

So many drunk drivers are racing up and down the road between parties in Westport and New York, the local police have given up trying to stop them.

Fitzs house in Westport

The Fitzgeralds’ rented house in Westport, Connecticut

Riding through midtown Manhattan one day in a taxi, Scott starts sobbing. He knows that he has gotten everything he ever wanted. And life will never be this good again.

“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.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

This fall I will be talking about writers’ salons before and after the Great War in Ireland, England, France and America in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

My presentation, “Such Friends”:  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, is available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre. The program begins at the 11 minute mark, and my presentation at 16 minutes.

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, July, 1920, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Greenwich Village, New York City, New York

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 28, checking her new copy of the July issue of Vanity Fair, thinks, That sure paid off.

At a Greenwich Village party back in April she had met Princeton grad Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 25. He was immediately entranced by her bobbed red hair and impromptu poetry recital. She wasn’t that interested—until she found out he was the new managing editor of Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair cover Jul 1920

Vanity Fair, July 1920

Shortly after, Edna had taken his virginity—well, he had offered it. Then she took off for Cape Cod for the summer, to stay in this borrowed cottage with her mother and sisters, without heat or electricity. She is happy banging out sonnets on her portable Corona typewriter.

Millay has had poems published before, in smaller magazines such as Ainslee’s and Current Opinion, and her anti-war play Aria da Capo has been produced by the Provincetown Players.

But thanks to her suitor Bunny, she now has a poem in Vanity Fair, “Dead Music—An Elegy,” accompanied by a plug for her play and a squib describing her as

one of the most distinctive personalities in modern American poetry.”

Thanks for that, Bunny.

Edna sees this as quite a step up, with her work nestled in between pieces by G. K. Chesterton, 46, Stephen Leacock, 50, and, oh, yes, John Peale Bishop, 28. He’s coming to visit soon for a few days. But she plans to have him leave just before Bunny arrives.

*****

Back in Greenwich Village, Egmont Arens, 32, owner of the Washington Square Bookshop on West Eighth Street, is setting out the July Vanity Fair along with the July-August issue of The Little Review.

Founded and edited by Margaret Anderson, 33, and Jane Heap, 36, for the past six years The Little Review has been publishing the most cutting-edge writers in America and abroad. Their foreign editor, ex-patriate American poet Ezra Pound, 34, has introduced them to the latest developments in literature from Europe.

Thanks to Pound, for the past two years The Little Review has been publishing excerpts from the latest work in progress, Ulysses, by the Irish novelist James Joyce, 38.

However, the authorities don’t agree with Anderson and Heap’s enthusiasm for contemporary literature. Last year, and again this January, issues of the magazine carrying the “Cyclops” chapter of Ulysses were seized and burned by the US Post Office.

Since then, however, they have been left alone. March issue, no problem. April issue, no problem. Even the May-June issue, with the first two parts of Joyce’s “Nausicaa” episode, had been published, sold and mailed with no interference.

Little Review 3 issues with Nausicaa

Three issues of The Little Review containing the “Nausicaa” episode of Ulysses

This July-August issue contains the third part of “Nausicaa.” Pound admits that, before sending the manuscript on to The Little Review,

I did myself dry [Stephen] Bloom’s shirt,”

removing Joyce’s reference to a semen stain.

We’ll see if this issue will be left alone by the censors, thinks Arens. Fingers crossed.

“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 the fall I will be talking about writers’ salons before and after the Great War in Ireland, England, France and America in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

My presentation, “Such Friends”:  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table is available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre. The program begins at the 11 minute mark, and my presentation at 16 minutes.

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, June 1, 1920, Sirmione, Lago di Garda, northern Italy

American poet Ezra Pound, 34, looking out on a lake in northern Italy, is writing to his benefactor, American lawyer and art collector, John Quinn, 50, in New York City.

He thanks Quinn for having negotiated a deal for Pound to serve as foreign editor for the American literary magazine, The Dial. He mentions that the magazine had already sent him a check for 2,050 lire, about $100, drawn on a Genoa bank. But no one in this part of the country wants to cash it.

Then he writes about their mutual friend, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 54, recently returned from his third American lecture tour, which had problems with the tour promotion agency:

—Poor W. B. Y. perhaps he’ll now settle down & lead an honest life—Am sorry for his ill fortune but can’t feel he’s wholly spotless, he that went forth to gall the ignorant…Besides he’ll have made enough to buy a few shingles for his phallic symbol on the Bogs. Bally phallus or whatever he calls it with the river on the first floor.”

Thoor Ballylee flooded

Yeats’ tower in the west of Ireland, Thoor Ballylee, flooded

“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 writers’ salons before and after the Great War in Ireland, England, France and America in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning program.

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 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, May 22, 1920, on board the S. S. Megantic, Montreal, Canada

Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 54, and his wife, Georgie, 28, are just about to embark on their voyage back to Liverpool on the S. S. Megantic, part of the White Star Line.

What a great trip it has been.

Postcard of the S. S. Megantic

This was Yeats’ third American lecture tour, but the first with his wife. They had seen a lot of the big country. But most importantly, in New York City, they had had time to spend with his father, painter John Butler Yeats, 81.

Before boarding the ship, Yeats had sent back to their friend in New York, lawyer and art collector, John Quinn, 50, the key to his Central Park West apartment. He thanked Quinn for being such a gracious host, and for

never intrud[ing] irrelevancies…[providing] less argument and more sympathy and understanding [than any other Americans].”

Being away from home had made Yeats feel more strongly than ever about the future of his newly independent country. He and Georgie will spend some time visiting friends in and around London, but then they are eager to go home to Dublin.

“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 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.

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, May, 1920, Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, Midtown Manhattan

Poet William Butler Yeats, 54, and his wife Georgie, 28, are settling into New York City. They have spent this whole year so far on Willie’s third American lecture tour. It’s been a big success, but they’re exhausted.

Their dear friend, Irish-American lawyer and supporter of the arts, John Quinn, just turned 50, really wants them to stay with him in his spacious Central Park West penthouse apartment. They will—but they decided that a few days at the Algonquin Hotel will be more restful.

They are only planning to be in New York for a couple of weeks before they head for Montreal to board the Mejantic back to England. Quinn has arranged all their tickets and transportation.

Alg lobby 2

Algonquin Hotel lobby

Someone has offered to record Yeats for

a new kind of moving picture—a picture that talks as well as moves,”

as he describes it.

Quinn says they might have the opportunity to meet an Irish politician also touring America. Eamon de Valera, 37, current self-proclaimed President of Dáil Éireann, the Parliament of the newly proclaimed Irish Republic, has asked to meet his country’s most famous poet. And Yeats is curious—is this former Irish rebel just all propaganda? Or is there a real human in there?

Éamon_de_Valera

Eamon de Valera

Mostly, they plan to spend more time with Willie’s father, painter John Butler Yeats, 81, whom Quinn has been keeping an eye on, ever since he moved from Dublin to Manhattan 13 years ago. He was supposed to stay just a few weeks!

The Yeats family had implored their father to come home to Ireland. But J B had written to Yeats that, as an American had pointed out,

In Dublin it is hopeless insolvency. Here it is hopeful insolvency.”

And so he stayed.

“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 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.

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