“Such Friends”:  Five years ago, June, 2017, London

We interrupt the usual chronicle of what was happening 100 years ago to commemorate “Dalloway Day.”

Yes. Not “Bloomsday” which celebrates tomorrow, June 16th as the day on which James Joyce set his novel Ulysses [1922]. Virginia Woolf wasn’t specific about the date on which the events of Mrs. Dalloway [1925] take place beyond referring to it as a Wednesday in mid-June.

Below is a blog I wrote about the Dalloway Day events in London that I attended in 2017, when we were living in Birmingham UK. If you are interested in the celebrations being held this year, click here.

“Such Friends”: Dalloway Day, Blogging Woolf, and me

I said I would buy the lunch myself.

As I recommend to all my visiting American friends, when in the UK, time your train trip so you can take along some lunch from M&S Simply Food, ubiquitous in train stations here. My preference is carrot sticks with reduced fat humous and salmon pasta salad. Yum.

So I stocked up and took off for London a few Saturdays ago to take part in my first “Dalloway Day,” commemorating the day on which Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway, is set. The Irish all over the world have been celebrating “Bloomsday” based on James Joyce’s Ulysses for over 50 years. Now it’s Virginia’s turn.

Original cover of Mrs. Dalloway, designed by Vanessa Bell

This year, the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain is sponsoring this day, which includes a walk through some of the novel’s settings, a discussion of the book, and a 1920s party at the Bloomsbury Waterstones. I signed up for the whole package.

On one of the hottest days of the year, I took the train from Birmingham New Street to Euston station, and then the Underground to the appointed meeting place, outside the Regent’s Park Tube.

Waiting for the Underground lift, literally a breath of fresh air came wafting through. The woman next to me, about my age, said,

Oh! That feels great. It’s so hot.”

I nodded in agreement.

Watching her walk up the stairs in front of me, I realized she was wearing a blue flower print dress and lovely straw hat. Aha. Another Dalloway Day participant, I surmised.

As we reached the street at the top, we both laughed. Standing just a few feet away was a gaggle of Dalloway Day fans. About 20 women “of a certain age” in flowered dresses or skirts, straw hats—they all looked just like me! No trouble finding this group.

The walk was led by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, who obviously was a lot more familiar with the book and Virginia than I am, having read it years ago as part of my research. I actually have much more vivid memories of the Vanessa Redgrave film, which I’ve used in my presentations.

Jean was dressed in the full Dalloway, including a vintage dress and hat, complemented by darling low-heeled black shoes with straps. Very 1920s. She’d obviously done this many times before.

Jean pointed out that there is debate as to when Dalloway Day actually is. Whereas Joyce clearly set Ulysses on 16th June, 1904, the day of his first date with his eventual wife, Nora Barnacle, Woolf‘s novel says “mid-June.” However, by lining up events in the book with cricket games and the Ascot races, most scholars have settled on the third Wednesday in June. But—this year, it’s Saturday, 17th June. So more of us can come.

The unusually warm weather—it’s actually been hot; Miami hot, not just England hot—didn’t slow us down a bit. After a stop in Regent’s Park, Jeanne walked us over to Fitzroy Square, where Virginia lived from 1907 until 1911 with her brother Adrian. Their sister Vanessa had married art critic Clive Bell and kicked the siblings out when the newlyweds took over the Gordon Square house, where we headed next.

My own Bloomsbury walk actually takes the reverse route, starting in Gordon Square and then over to Fitzroy Square.

Your host leading a walk in Fitzroy Square where Virginia lived.

At Waterstone’s we sat in a circle, sipping refreshing flavoured ice water. Jean and Maggie Humm of the Woolf Society led us through an interesting discussion of the book. My research was on the relationships among the creative people in the Bloomsbury group, but wasn’t focused on their works—books, paintings, etc. This discussion brought new insights about the connections for me to incorporate into my future presentations.

And I learned that there is a website that maps all the walks of the characters in the book—Clarissa, Peter, Septimus and Rezia—showing how they interconnect.

For the 1920s party, I was planning to switch to Dorothy Parker mode, and so had tucked my red feather boa into my travel bag. But not many others were quite so dedicated to the flapper look, so I decided to stay in Bloomsbury garb.

*****

Just this past week, I had another tax-deductible reason to go to London. Paula Maggio, better known to many of you as “Blogging Woolf,” was visiting from the States to attend the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. We made plans to meet up and she wanted to try the Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel. We had a fabulous lunch of pasta and prosecco, treated ourselves to dessert, and took a peek at the 1920s-style Bloomsbury Club downstairs.

Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel, photo by Paula Maggio

Paula had also heard about a life-size statue of Virginia at Kings College, where Woolf had studied classics in her early days. A bit of Googling and walking led us to the Woolf Building. A sign said it was locked due to increased security, but when the guard saw our noses pressed against the glass, he let us in.

There she was, encased behind plexiglass, big as life, holding a copy of A Room of One’s Own, in a wardrobe that was, as Paula said, “a closet of her own.”

Surrounded by large quotes from Virginia’s works, and photos of her, it makes a fitting entrance for the College’s School of English.

Virginia Woolf statue, Kings College, photo by Paula Maggio

I would definitely add both of these places—Dalloway Terrace and the Kings College statue—to my Bloomsbury walk.

Heading back towards Euston station, Paula and I stopped by Woburn Walk, where the Irish poet William Butler Yeats lived at the same time that Virginia and her siblings were moving into Gordon Square, just a few blocks away.

These intersections of time, place and characters are what interest me most. I can picture an aerial view of north London in 1907, as the Irish poet walks past the Stephens sisters, on their way over to enjoy a stroll through Regent’s Park.

The usual blog series that appears here, “Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago…, is the basis for the book 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 publication of T. S. Eliot’s 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, April 16, Easter, 1922, Thoor Ballylee, near Gort; Dominick Street, Galway City; and Rutland Square, Dublin

Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, 56, and his family are settling in nicely to their new country home in the west of Ireland. Well, not a traditional “country home.” A Norman tower, actually. Which Yeats has renamed Thoor Ballylee.

Thoor Ballylee

From the top of his tower he can see the Aughty Mountains to the east and the hills of the Burren to the West.

He writes to friends,

All we can see from our windows is beautiful and quiet…Everything is so beautiful that to go elsewhere is to leave beauty behind.”

*****

Yet, about 20 miles away in Galway City, Nora Barnacle, 38, home from Paris on a family visit, is staying in her uncle’s house with her two children, Giorgio, 16, and Lucia, 14.

Galway City

Insurgents from the Irish Republican Army [IRA], fighting against the right of the newly declared Irish Free State to uphold the Anglo-Irish Treaty, burst into the house.

They demand to use the bedroom as a base to fire on their enemies out the window.

Nora is appalled. And panicked. Her partner, the father of her children, Irish novelist James Joyce, 40, had begged her to not come here. He knows there is a Civil War raging throughout the country and he fears for their safety. He has been writing her anguished letters from their home in Paris ever since she left.

I am like a man looking into a dark pool,”

Joyce writes to her.

She and the children arrived a few weeks ago, coming over via London, which Nora really enjoyed. She might try to convince Jim to move there, rather than continue to live in Paris. At least they’d be surrounded by the English language.

But right now, Nora is thinking that she needs to get herself and her kids on a train to Dublin as fast as she can.

*****

Michael Collins, 31, recently named Chair of the Provisional Government of the pro-Treaty Irish Free State, gets out of his car at Vaughan’s Hotel in Rutland Square, followed by other members of the National Army. A group of 12 anti-government, armed IRA men rush by him and start shooting at his entourage. Collins fires at them with his revolver and disarms one of the younger men. The boy admits he didn’t realize that he had just shot at the leader of the Irish Free State. Good thing he missed.

Vaughan’s Hotel

My thanks to Rena McAllen, member of the board of directors of the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, for assistance with details of Thoor Ballylee, and Neil Weatherall, author of the play, The Playboy Riots, for assistance with details of the Irish Civil War.

“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.

In June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after The Great War at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in 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, April, 1922, England, America, France, and Ireland

Comment continues to come in reacting to the new novel Ulysses, by Irishman James Joyce, 40, published two months ago by a small bookshop in Paris, Shakespeare and Company, owned by American ex-pat Sylvia Beach, 35.

SCANDAL OF JAMES JOYCE’S ULYSSES

After a rather boresome [sic] perusal of James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in Paris for private subscribers at the rate of three guineas in francs, I can realize one reason at least for Puritan America’s Society for the Prevention of Vice, and can understand why the Yankee judges fined the publishers of The Little Review $100 for the publication of a very rancid chapter of the Joyce stuff, which appears in to have been written by a perverted lunatic who has made a specialty of the literature of the latrine…Joyce is a writer of talent, but in Ulysses he has ruled out all the elementary decencies of life and dwells appreciatively on things that sniggering louts of schoolboys guffaw about.

Sporting Times

“In addition to this stupid glorification of mere filth, the book suffers from being written in the manner of a demented George Meredith. There are whole chapters of it without any punctuation or other guide to what the writer is really getting at. Two-thirds of it is incoherent, and the passages that are plainly written are devoid of wit, displaying only a coarse salacrity [sic] intended for humour…The main contents of the book are enough to make a Hottentot sick…[However] there are quite a number of the New York intelligentsia who declare that Joyce has written the best book in the world.”—”Aramis,” Sporting Times, England

[Joyce is] Rabelais after a nervous breakdown.”—Sheffield Daily Telegraph, England

[Ulysses] has nothing at all to do with Homer…The book itself in its blue paper cover looks at first glance like nothing so much as a telephone directory…It seems a pity that Mr. Joyce, who might be a universally admired writer, restricts the appeal of his work by so many Zolaesque expressions, which are, to say the least, disfiguring.”—“Diary of a Man About Town,” London Evening News

[Joyce is] an intensely serious man [with] the mind of an artist, abnormally sensitive to the secret of individuality of emotions and things…A genius of the very highest order, strictly comparable to Goethe or Dostoevsky…Ulysses is, fundamentally (though it is much else besides), an immense, a prodigious self-laceration, the tearing away from himself, by a half-demented man of genius, of inhibitions and limitations which have grown to be flesh of his flesh…Mr. Joyce has made the superhuman effort to empty the whole of his consciousness into it…[But he has become] the victim of his own anarchy….[Joyce] is the man with the bomb who would blow what remains of Europe into the sky…This transcendental buffoonery, this sudden uprush of the vis comica into a world where in the tragic incompatibility of the practical and the instinctive is embodied, is a very great achievement.”—“Mr. Joyce’s Ulysses,” John Middleton Murry, Nation and Athenaeum, England

The Nation and Athenaeum

[Joyce’s vision of human nature is] mean, hostile, and uncharitable,…a very astonishing phenomenon in letters. He is sometimes dazzlingly original. If he does not see life whole he sees it piercingly. His ingenuity is marvelous. He has wit. He has a prodigious humor. He is afraid of naught…It is more indecent, obscene, scatological, and licentious than the majority of professedly pornographic books…He says everything—everything…The code is smashed to bits…[The Nighttown episode has] the richest stuff, handled with a virtuosity to match the quality of the material…I have never read anything to surpass [Molly Bloom’s soliloquy], and I doubt if I have ever read anything to equal it…[Joyce] apparently thinks that there is something truly artistic and high minded in playing the lout to the innocent and defenseless reader…He has made novel reading into a fair imitation of penal servitude. Many persons could not continue reading Ulysses; they would be obliged, by mere shock, to drop it.”—“James Joyce’s Ulysses,” Arnold Bennett, The London Outlook, England

The London Outlook

Amused, stimulated, charmed, interested (through the first three chapters only to be) puzzled, bored, irritated, & disillusioned as by a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples (by the end of chapter 6)…It was an illiterate, underbred book (by a) self-taught working man”—Virginia Woolf, in her diary, England

*****

[Ulysses is] a step toward making the modern world possible for art. [It gives] a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history…[Joyce has replaced narrative with] the mythical method…[It is] a book to which we are all indebted and from which none of us can escape”—T. S. Eliot, “Ulysses, Order and Myth,” The Dial, America

*****

[Molly Bloom’s soliloquy is a feat of] diabolic clairvoyance, black magic.”—Paris edition of New York Herald, France

Take this Irishman Joyce, a sort of Zola gone to seed. Someone recently sent me a copy of Ulysses. I was told I must read it, but how can 1 plow through such stuff? I read a little here and there, but, oh my God! How bored I got! Probably Joyce thinks that because he prints all the dirty little words he is a great novelist. You know, of course, he got his ideas from Dujardin?…Joyce, Joyce, why he’s nobody…from the Dublin docks:  no family, no breeding. Someone else once sent me his A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a book entirely without style or distinction; why, I did the same thing, but much better in The Confessions. of a Young Man. Why attempt the same thing unless you can turn out a better book?…Ulysses is hopeless, it is absurd to imagine that any good end can be served by trying to record every single thought and sensation of any human being. That’s not art, that’s attempting to copy the London Directory….He lives here in Paris, I understand. How does he manage to make a living? His books don’t sell. Maybe he has money?”—Irish critic George Moore, in conversation in France

A welter of pornography (the rudest school-boy kind), and unformed and unimportant drivel.”—Edith Wharton, France

It bursted over us like an explosion in print, whose words and phrases fell upon us like a gift of tongues, like a less than holy Pentecostal experience”—Young American in France

Sylvia Beach and James Joyce in front of headlines at Shakespeare and Company

*****

I should think you would need something to restore your self-respect after this last inspection of the stinkpots…Everything dirty seems to have the same irresistible attraction for you that cow-dung has for flies.”—The author’s brother, Stanislaus Joyce, Ireland

I’ve always told him he should give up writing and take up singing.”—The author’s partner, Nora Barnacle, visiting her mother in Ireland

“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.

In June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris just before and just after the Great War, at Carnegie-Mellon University’s 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’ 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, 1922, Vanity Fair magazine

American writer Djuna Barnes, 29, arrived in Paris a few months ago with a letter of introduction to one of the ex-patriate writers she most admires, James Joyce, 40. This month, her profile of the Irishman appears in Vanity Fair magazine.

A PORTRAIT OF THE MAN WHO IS, AT PRESENT,

ONE OF THE MORE SIGNIFICANT FIGURES IN LITERATURE

BY DJUNA BARNES

…Of Joyce, the man, one has heard very little. I had seen a photograph of him, the collar up about the narrow throat, the beard, heavier in those days, descending into the abyss of the hidden bosom. I had been told that he was going blind, and we in America learned from Ezra Pound that ‘Joyce is the only man on the continent who continues to produce in spite of poverty and sickness, working from eight to sixteen hours a day.’…

James Joyce

“And then, one day, I came to Paris. Sitting in the café of the Deux Magots, that faces the little church of St. Germain des Près, I saw approaching, out of the fog and damp, a tall man, with head slightly lifted and slightly turned, giving to the wind an orderly distemper of red and black hair, which descended sharply into a scant wedge on an out-thrust chin.

“He wore a blue grey coat, too young it seemed, partly because he had thrust its gathers behind him, partly because the belt which circled it, lay two full inches above the hips…

“Because he had heard of the suppression of The Little Review on account of Ulysses and of the subsequent trial, he sat down opposite me, who was familiar with the whole story, ordering a white wine. He began to talk at once. ‘The pity is,’ he said, seeming to choose his words for their age rather than their aptness, ‘the public will demand and find a moral in my book—or worse they may take it in some more serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one single serious line in it.’

“For a moment there was silence. His hands, peculiarly limp in the introductory shake and peculiarly pulpy, running into a thickness that the base gave no hint of, lay, one on the stem of the glass, the other, forgotten, palm out, on the most delightful waistcoat it has ever been my happiness to see. Purple with alternate doe and dog heads

James Joyce by Djuna Barnes

“He saw my admiration and he smiled. ‘Made by the hand of my grandmother for the first hunt of the season’ and there was another silence in which he arranged and lit a cigar…

“’In Ulysses I have recorded, simultaneously, what a man says, sees, thinks, and what such seeing, thinking, saying does, to what you Freudians call the subconscious,—but as for psychoanalysis,’ he broke off, ‘it’s neither more nor less than blackmail.’

“He raised his eyes. There is something unfocused in them,—the same paleness seen in plants long hidden from the sun,—and sometimes a little jeer that goes with a lift and rounding of the upper lip…

“If I were asked what seemed to be the most characteristic pose of James Joyce I should say that of the head; turned farther away than disgust and not so far as death…After this I should add—think of him as a heavy man yet thin, drinking a thin cool wine with lips almost hidden in his high narrow head, or smoking the eternal cigar, held slightly above shoulder-level, and never moved until consumed, the mouth brought to and taken away from it to eject the sharp jets of yellow smoke…

“It has been my pleasure to talk to him many times during my four months in Paris. We have talked of rivers and religion, of the instinctive genius of the church which chose, for the singing of its hymns, the voice without ‘overtones’—the voice of the eunuch. We have talked of women, about women he seems a bit disinterested. Were I vain I should say he is afraid of them, but I am certain he is only a little skeptical of their existence. We have talked of Ibsen, of Strindberg, Shakespeare. ‘Hamlet is a great play, written from the standpoint of the ghost,’ and of Strindberg, ‘No drama behind the hysterical raving.’

“We have talked of death, of rats, of horses, the sea; languages, climates and offerings. Of artists and of Ireland…

“Sometimes his wife, Nora, and his two children have been with him. Large children, almost as tall as he is himself, and Nora walks under fine red hair, speaking with a brogue that carries the dread of Ireland in it; Ireland as a place where poverty has become the art of scarcity. A brogue a little more defiant than Joyce’s which is tamed by preoccupation.

“Joyce has few friends, yet he is always willing to leave his writing table and his white coat of an evening, to go to some quiet near-by cafe, there to discuss anything that is not ‘artistic’ or ‘flashy’ or ‘new.’ Callers have often found him writing in the night or drinking tea with Nora. I myself once came upon him as he lay full length on his stomach poring over a valise full of notes taken in his youth for Ulysses

“However it is with him, he will come away for the evening, for he is simple, a scholar, and sees nothing objectionable in human beings if they will only remain in place…”

Vanity Fair, April

“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.

In June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris just before and just after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

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.

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, February 2, 1922, Gare de Lyon, Place Louis-Armand, Paris; and 13 Nassau Street, New York City, New York

Standing on the platform at the Gare de Lyon, American ex-pat Sylvia Beach, 34, is waiting for the Paris-Dijon Express, due in at 7 am.

Gare de Lyon

The first copies of the novel Ulysses, by Irish ex-pat James Joyce, 40 today, will arrive from Darantiere, the printer in Dijon. Sylvia’s little Left Bank bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, has taken on the responsibility of publishing the controversial book when no one else would.

When Beach told Joyce that Darantiere guaranteed to mail the parcel on 1st February, Joyce was not pleased. He insisted that the package be put on the train so the conductor can hand deliver the two copies to Sylvia personally.

As the train approaches, Beach is working out the next steps in her head. She will get a taxi to Joyce’s apartment at 9 rue de l’Universite to give him the 40th birthday present that he wants most, the first copy of Ulysses.

Then she will continue on to her shop, at 12 rue de l’Odeon, about 20 minutes away, to put the second copy on display in the window. Word has been circulating around the Left Bank that the book will soon be available, and those who subscribed in advance are eager to get their copies.

Tonight Joyce has planned a small party at one of his favorite restaurants, Ferraris, to celebrate his accomplishment, eight years in the making. He and his partner, and the mother of his children, Nora Barnacle, 37, have invited just a few friends. One of Joyce’s most loyal supporters and drinking buddies, American writer Robert McAlmon, 26, left town for the Riviera just yesterday. Didn’t even leave behind a birthday present.

Sylvia Beach and James Joyce

*****

The next day, Joyce cables one of his main benefactors, Irish-American attorney, John Quinn, 51, at his Manhattan law office:

Ulysses published. Thanks.”

Quinn, meanwhile, cables to his friend, Irish playwright William Butler Yeats, 56:

Regret your father [painter JB Yeats, 82] passed away this morning, 7 o’clock…The end came in sleep without pain or struggle.”

The author and her Irishman, Tony Dixon

“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. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

My talk about my fellow Pittsburgher, Gertrude Stein, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill tomorrow has been postponed due to the weather gods sending “extra ice on Thursday” in the middle of a snowstorm. The new date will be posted on this blog and you can register your interest in coming here.

At the end of February I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University, on Zoom, no matter what the weather is like.

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.

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”: Four years ago, June, 2017, London

We interrupt our usual chronicle of what was happening 100 years ago to commemorate “Dalloway Day.”

Not “Bloomsday” which celebrates June 16th as the day on which James Joyce set his novel Ulysses [1922]. But the third Wednesday in June which is the day on which Virginia Woolf set her novel Mrs. Dalloway [1925]. This year, they happen to be the same day.

Below is a blog I wrote about the Dalloway Day events in London that I attended in 2017. If you are interested in the celebrations being held this year, click here. I particularly recommend the panel this evening featuring my “such friends” Emily Midorikawa and Emma Clair Sweeney, talking about Woolf’s friendship with Katherine Mansfield.

Such Friends”:  Dalloway Day, Blogging Woolf, and me

I said I would buy the lunch myself.

As I recommend to all my visiting American friends, when in the UK, time your train trip so you can take along some lunch from M&S Simply Food, ubiquitous in train stations here. My preference is carrot sticks with reduced fat humous and salmon pasta salad. Yum.

So I stocked up and took off for London a few Saturdays ago to take part in my first “Dalloway Day,” commemorating the day on which Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway, is set. The Irish all over the world have been celebrating “Bloomsday” based on James Joyce’s Ulysses for over 50 years. Now it’s Virginia’s turn.

Original cover of Mrs. Dalloway, designed by Vanessa Bell

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain is sponsoring this day, which includes a walk through some of the novel’s settings, a discussion of the book, and a 1920s party at the Bloomsbury Waterstones. I signed up for the whole package.

On one of the hottest days of the year, I took the train from Birmingham New Street to Euston station, and then the Underground to the appointed meeting place, outside the Regent’s Park Tube.

Waiting for the Underground lift, literally a breath of fresh air came wafting through. The woman next to me, about my age, said,

Oh! That feels great. It’s so hot.”

I nodded in agreement.

Watching her walk up the stairs in front of me, I realized she was wearing a blue flower print dress and lovely straw hat. Aha. Another Dalloway Day participant, I surmised.

As we reached the street at the top, we both laughed. Standing just a few feet away was a gaggle of Dalloway Day fans. About 20 women “of a certain age” in flowered dresses or skirts, straw hats—they all looked just like me! No trouble finding this group.

The walk was led by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, who obviously was a lot more familiar with the book and Virginia than I am, having read it years ago as part of my research. I actually have much more vivid memories of the Vanessa Redgrave film, which I’ve used in my presentations.

Jean was dressed in the full Dalloway, including a vintage dress and hat, complemented by darling low-heeled black shoes with straps. Very 1920s. She’d obviously done this many times before.

Jean pointed out that there is debate as to when Dalloway Day actually is. Whereas Joyce clearly set Ulysses on 16th June, 1904, the day of his first date with his eventual wife, Nora Barnacle, Woolf ‘s novel says “mid-June.” However, by lining up events in the book with cricket games and the Ascot races, most scholars have settled on the third Wednesday in June. But—this year, we are celebrating on Saturday, 17th June. So more of us can come.

The unusually warm weather—it’s actually been hot; Miami hot, not just England hot—didn’t slow us down a bit. After a stop in Regent’s Park, Jeanne walked us over to Fitzroy Square, where Virginia lived from 1907 until 1911 with her brother Adrian. Their sister Vanessa had married art critic Clive Bell and kicked the siblings out when the newlyweds took over the Gordon Square house, where we headed next.

My own Bloomsbury walk actually takes the reverse route, starting in Gordon Square and then over to Fitzroy Square.

Here’s me on one of my walks pointing out the house at #29 where Virginia and Adrian lived:

At Waterstone’s, we sat in a circle, sipping refreshing flavored ice water. Jean and Maggie Humm of the Woolf Society led us through an interesting discussion of the book. My research was on the relationships among the creative people in the Bloomsbury group, but wasn’t focused on their works—books, paintings, etc. This discussion brought new insights about the connections for me to incorporate into my future presentations.

And I learned that there is a website that maps all the walks of the characters in the book—Clarissa, Peter, Septimus and Rezia—showing how they interconnect.

For the 1920s party, I was planning to switch to Dorothy Parker mode, and so had tucked my red feather boa into my travel bag. But not many others were quite so dedicated to the flapper look, so I decided to stay in Bloomsbury garb.

*****

This past week, I had another tax-deductible reason to go to London. Paula Maggio, better known to many of you as “Blogging Woolf”’ was visiting from the States to attend the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. We made plans to meet up and she wanted to try the Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel. We had a fabulous lunch of pasta and prosecco, treated ourselves to dessert, and took a peek at the 1920s-style Bloomsbury Club downstairs.

Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel, photo by Paula Maggio

Paula had also heard about a life-size statue of Virginia at Kings College, where Woolf had studied classics in her early days. A bit of Googling and walking led us to the Woolf Building. A sign said it was locked due to increased security, but when the guard saw our noses pressed against the glass, he let us in.

There she was, encased behind plexiglass, big as life, holding a copy of A Room of One’s Own, in a wardrobe that was, as Paula said, “a closet of her own.”

Surrounded by large quotes from Virginia’s works, and photos of her, it makes a fitting entrance for the College’s School of English.

Virginia Woolf statue, Kings College, photo by Paula Maggio

I would definitely add both of these places—Dalloway Terrace and the Kings College statue—to my Bloomsbury walk. Here’s a review of the restaurant by one of last year’s conference participants..

Heading back towards Euston station, Paula and I stopped by Woburn Walk, where the poet William Butler Yeats lived at the same time that Virginia and her siblings were moving into Gordon Square, just a few blocks away.

These intersections of time, place and characters are what interest me most. I can picture an aerial view of north London in 1907, as the Irish poet walks past the Stephens sisters, on their way over to enjoy a stroll through Regent’s Park.

Might make an interesting structure for a biography. Watch this space.

To walk with me through Bloomsbury, download the “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group audio walking tour from VoiceMap.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I am talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the 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 versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, early May, 1921, Left Bank, Paris

Everyone’s coming to Paris…

American ex-patriate writer Robert McAlmon, 26, and his new British wife, Bryher, 26, have moved to Paris after visiting her wealthy family in London for their honeymoon.

Bryher

Bob is planning to use his wife’s inheritance, along with the allowance her family is giving him, to start a small publishing company, Contact Press, named after the Contact magazine he founded in New York late last year with a fellow poet.

When they first got to Paris, the McAlmons made a point of visiting the English-language bookstore, Shakespeare & Co. on the Left Bank, and signing up as members of the lending library. They are using the shop as an address and stopping by every day to pick up their mail.

There is a real buzz in the store. The owner, another American ex-pat, Sylvia Beach, 33, is working on a major project. She has offered to publish Ulysses, the latest work by Irish novelist James Joyce, 39, even though excerpts from it were recently ruled obscene in New York City when they appeared in The Little Review there.

Sylvia Beach at Shakespeare & Co.

McAlmon and Joyce have become good friends. In London, Bob had received a letter of introduction from Harriet Shaw Weaver, 44, one of his benefactors and owner of The Egoist Press, to meet the Irish novelist. He and Bryher have been supporting the Joyces with a $150 per month stipend, and McAlmon is helping to type parts of the—very messy—manuscript as Joyce writes it.

At the shop, everyone is pitching in to mail out a prospectus and order forms to potential subscribers to Ulysses, which is planned to come out in the fall. As orders come in, Beach records them in separate green record books for each country. The biggest single order—25 copies—has come from the Washington Square Bookshop in Greenwich Village, one of the original defendants in the obscenity case. Bryher is helping out by setting up a system of alphabetical pigeon holes for the incoming mail.

At night, McAlmon and Joyce, sometimes joined by French writer Valery Larbaud, 39, make the rounds of the clubs and dance halls. They particularly like Gipsy’s on the Boulevard St. Michel. McAlmon staggers from table to table getting drunken patrons to fill out order forms for the novel. He brings what he calls another “Hasty Bunch” of signed forms to the shop on his way home early in the morning, after having been thrown out of the last club along with his two comrades. Sylvia can barely make out the scrawly handwriting.

McAlmon is popular on the Left Bank for his charming personality, of course, but also because he can buy the drinks. Lots of drinks. He and Larbaud had to bring Joyce home one night in a wheelbarrow. Joyce’s partner and mother of his children, Nora Barnacle, 37, admonished him,

Jim, what is it all ye find to jabber about the nights you’re brought home drunk for me to look after? You’re dumb as an oyster now, so God help me.”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume 1 covering 1920 is available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the 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 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, March 31, 1921, 8 rue Dupuytren, Left Bank, Paris

Sylvia Beach, just turned 34, American ex-pat owner of this bookstore, Shakespeare & Co., knows that she has to be the one to bring the bad news.

She has received a clipping of an editorial in last month’s New York Tribune stating that the court has ruled that excerpts from Ulysses, the work in progress by Irish novelist James Joyce, 39, her friend and customer, are officially, legally obscene.

Sylvia Beach and James Joyce

And the “melancholy Jesus,” as she calls him, has just walked into her store.

Joyce has been working on this novel for over six years now, and the late nights in a dimly lit room have severely affected his eyesight. He says he is now writing the last two sections and will be finished by May. Sylvia is dubious.

Recently he received a briefcase, sent from his previous home in Trieste, Italy, containing 12-year-old love letters between him and his partner and mother of his children, Nora Barnacle, just turned 37. This will help him to write the ending he has planned.

Despite the efforts of his benefactor in New York, lawyer and art collector John Quinn, 50, to get a major publisher to bring out a private edition, the only place excerpts of Ulysses have appeared is in The Little Review. And now the magazine’s publishers have been fined and prohibited from publishing any more.

After reading the clipping Joyce says,

My book will never come out now.”

What disturbs him even more is that, according to the editorial, the defense that Quinn had used in court was that his manuscript was incomprehensible to the average reader and disgusting. But not obscene. Because most people couldn’t understand it anyway, what was the point in suppressing it?

The judges didn’t agree. And they had recently punished a publisher in another obscenity case with a choice between a $1,000 fine or three months in prison. So the Little Review publishers take them seriously.

Sylvia felt for Joyce. His short story collection, Dubliners, had been rejected by 22 publishers before being brought out by Grant Richards Ltd. seven years ago in London.

What could she do to help? Does she know any publishers here? Her partner, Adrienne Monnier, 28, who owns a French language bookshop a few blocks away, has been bringing out Les Cahiers des Amis des Livres, a series of French writing and translations, for almost two years now. She works with a printer in Dijon and knows about typesetting and production.

Quinn had talked to Joyce about creating a private, high quality edition to sell for $10. Sylvia is thinking that she could have three different versions, of varying quality, and charge twice that much for a signed limited edition.

If she sets up a subscription scheme to get orders in advance, Sylvia figures she could pay the printer in instalments. And she could also hit up her mother and sisters for more family money to cover expenses.

Sylvia knows little about publishing, but she knows how to sell books. Not only is she fond of Joyce, she loves his work and has read enough of this novel to know that it will be one of the most important works published in English this decade.

Beach turns to Joyce and says,

Mr. Joyce, would you let Shakespeare & Co. have the honor of bringing out your Ulysses?”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I, covering 1920, is available on Amazon in print and e-book versions. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

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 formats.

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-August, 1920, near the Hotel Elysee, rue de Beaune, Paris

American poet, T. S. Eliot, 31, is finishing up a lovely meal with his traveling companion, English painter and writer, Wyndham Lewis, 37, and their newly met friend, Irish novelist James Joyce, 38.

Eliot and Lewis have come to visit Paris from London. Before leaving, another American ex-pat poet, Ezra Pound, 34, had given them a package to bring to Joyce. So today they invited him to their hotel to get acquainted.

Earlier in the summer, Joyce had written to Pound, one of his many benefactors, describing the poverty his family was enduring—he had to wear the too-large boots of his 15-year-old son, Giorgio, and second hand clothing.

Joyce with Giorgio

James Joyce with his son, Giorgio, a few years before

Joyce wasn’t surprised when Eliot got in touch, but was curious as to the package he had brought from Pound.

Giorgio had come with his father to meet the visitors. When Joyce opened the package from Pound and saw that it contained old brown shoes and used clothes, Joyce was clearly embarrassed. He told Giorgio to take the package home and tell his mother that Dad wouldn’t be home for dinner. Giorgio clearly didn’t want to go, and the two had a bit of fight in Italian.

Eliot had invited Joyce to come with them to this nearby restaurant for dinner, but now the Irishman is insisting on paying the whole bill. And leaving a very big tip.

“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.

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.

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 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 11, 1920, 34 rue du Bois de Bologne, Neuilly, Paris

Sylvia Beach, 33, American ex-patriate bookshop owner, does not want to be at this dinner party.

Her partner, Adrienne Monnier, 28, owner of the Left Bank’s other most popular bookshop, has been invited by the host, French poet Andre Spire, soon to turn 52, whom Adrienne knows well.

But Sylvia doesn’t. Nevertheless, Adrienne is persuasive.

34 Rue du Bois de Boulogne

34 rue du Bois de Bologne

As Sylvia is planning a quick exit, Spire comes over and whispers to her,

The Irish writer James Joyce is here.”

That puts a different twist on it.

American poet Ezra Pound, 34, who is lounging in an armchair in a velvet jacket and open-collared blue shirt, has made sure that everyone in Paris knows that the amazing James Joyce, 38, is in town.

Beach has admired Joyce’s work—from Dubliners to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Pound has spent the past month on a public relations campaign to line up ahead of time everything the Joyce family will need to live in Paris:  first a hotel room, then a free apartment for three months, then a French translator for his work.

Beach chats with Nora Barnacle, 36, Joyce’s partner for the last 16 years and mother of their two children. Nora is thrilled to be able to speak English with someone; for the past 10 years in Trieste they’ve all been speaking Italian.

During a dinner of cold cuts and free-flowing wine, Joyce refuses any alcohol by turning his glass upside down. He’s determined to not drink until 8 pm in the evenings.

Afterwards, Sylvia walks into the library and finds Joyce leaning against a bookcase; thin, a bit stooped. She cautiously approaches him, and, offering her hand, asks,

Is this the great James Joyce?”

He limply shakes her hand saying, in his Dublin lilt,

James Joyce.”

They talk about his family’s move to Paris and she notices that his right eye looks odd, distorted by the thicker right lens of his glasses.

He asks her,

And what do you do in Paris, Miss Beach?”

He is enchanted by the name of her bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., and writes it down, along with the address, in his notebook held very close to his eyes. He tells her that he will visit soon.

Adrienne finds Sylvia and says that the guests are leaving. Beach shakes Joyce’s hand again.

As she is walking out, Spire asks Sylvia if she has been bored. Beach replies,

Bored? I have just met James Joyce!”

Andre Spire

Andre Spire

Thanks to Paris resident Gregory Grefenstette for help in pinpointing the location of this meeting.

“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.

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 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 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.