“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, April, 1922, Palazzo San Giorgio, Genoa, Italy; and 50 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London

The Genoa Economic and Financial Conference is underway.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, 59, instigated this conference of delegates from selected European countries, to plan for the “reconstruction of economic Europe, devastated and broken into fragments by the desolating agency of war,” as he told the UK House of Commons. They gave him a rousing vote of confidence.

Rotogravure of the Palazzo San Giorgio

Over 700 journalists applied for the 200 ticketed slots to cover the four-week get together. Some of them have to sit on the floor.

The correspondent for the Toronto Star, American Ernest Hemingway, 22, arrived early in the month and began filing stories. His first description of the setting:

Genoa is crowded, a modern Babel with a corps of perspiring interpreters trying to bring the representatives of 40 [sic] different countries together. The narrow streets flow with crowds kept orderly by thousands of Italian troops.”

The troops in their black fezzes are visible to discourage violent outbreaks by Communists or anti-Communists in this city which is one-third “Red.” The best way to keep the peace seems to be closing the cafes, Hemingway observes.

The tension is exacerbated by Britain’s insistence, over France’s objection, that both Germany and Soviet Russia attend. France doesn’t want to invite their main debtor, the Weimar Republic, nor any representatives of the new Bolshevik government in Moscow.

America has declined to participate at all.

Living in Paris with his new wife since late last year, Ernie is happy to be covering his first major political event for the Star. He is getting used to filing his copy by cable, and a few of the more experienced journalists here have given him some tips. Muckraking investigative reporter Lincoln Steffens, just turned 56, showed him how to run words together—“aswellas”—to save money. Hemingway loves this.

It’s wonderful! It’s a new language. No fat, all bones and structure,”

he exclaims to his colleagues over chianti.

During the opening ceremony, the arrival of Lloyd George is met with a loud ovation. The other delegations enter, and, as Hemingway describes the scene:

When the hall is nearly full, the British delegation enters. They have come in motor cars through the troop-lined streets and enter with elan. They are the best dressed delegation…The hall is crowded and sweltering and the four empty chairs of the Soviet delegation are the four emptiest looking chairs I have ever seen. Everyone is wondering whether they will not appear. Finally they come through the door and start making their way through the crowd. Lloyd George looks at them intently, fingering his glasses…A mass of secretaries follow the Russian delegates, including two girls with fresh faces, hair bobbed in the fashion started by [American dancer] Irene Castle, and modish tailored suits. They are far and away the best-looking girls in the conference hall. The Russians are seated. Someone hisses for silence, and Signor Facta starts the dreary round of speeches that sends the conference under way.”


Economist John Maynard Keynes, 38, is one of the many Brits attending. He represented his government in Versailles at the Paris Peace Conference three years ago—when Germany and Russia were definitely not invited. But now he is here as General Editor of a special 12-part series, “Reconstruction in Europe” by the Manchester Guardian Commercial. These supplements are being translated into five languages and include contributions from leading statesmen and businessmen, along with 13 pieces by Keynes.

First Manchester Guardian supplement

The Guardian approached Maynard last year to take on this role, and he agreed only when they assured him he would be able to closely supervise the writers who would be chosen. Keynes is using this medium to get across his opinions of the steps being taken to rebuild a Europe which has been so devastated by the Great War.

Throughout the conference, Keynes keeps up a steady correspondence with his friends back home. Particularly his most recent lover, Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, 30.


Back in Bloomsbury, Lydia is enjoying settling into her new home in 50 Gordon Square, where Maynard installed her before he left, surrounded by his artsy Bloomsbury friends and just a few doors away from his residence in number 46.

Lydia has left the Ballets Russes, where she was a principal dancer for many years, and is now dancing in Covent Garden with the company led by fellow Russian Leonid Massine, 25, former choreographer with the Ballets Russes.

Since Maynard left for Italy, Lydia has been writing to him almost every day about the details of her new London life; commenting on his articles in the Guardian

Your expression in the end give me nice tremblings”—

and how much she misses him—

I place melodious strokes all over you. Maynard, you are very nice.”

Lydia Lopokova

Thanks to Dr. Marie Hooper for assistance in understanding European history.

“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 Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

‘Such Friends’: American writers in 1919

France, May, 1919

In Paris, leaders of the allied countries from the Great War are meeting to carve up their defeated adversary, Germany.

Paris Peace Conference in Versailles

Paris Peace Conference in the Palace of Versailles

On the Left Bank, near the Luxembourg Gardens, Gertrude Stein, 45, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, just turned 42, are settling back in to their home at 27 rue de Fleurus. They hope to re-start the Saturday evening salons they held to display and discuss the latest artworks they have been buying from their artist friends such as Pablo Picasso, 37, and Henri Matisse, 49. But it’s a different Paris than the one they left. As their friend, English art critic Clive Bell, 37, remarked,

They say that an awful lot of people were killed in the war but it seems to me that an extraordinarily large number of grown men and women have suddenly been born.’

Gert and Alice with the paintings

Stein and Toklas with their paintings at 27 rue de Fleurus

American vicar’s daughter Sylvia Beach, 32, is finishing up her field work with the Red Cross and writing to her Paris friend about starting a bookstore. Her mother will advance her the money. Beach wants to sell the latest American books, but can’t decide whether to open in New York or London.

Sylvia Beach 1919

Sylvia Beach

In another part of Paris, the US Army newspaper The Stars and Stripes, by American servicemen for American servicemen, is winding down. A big farewell banquet has been held, with Alexander Woollcott, 32, who will be going back to his job as New York Times drama critic, and Franklin Pierce Adams [FPA], 37, who will be returning to his must-read column, ‘The Conning Tower’ in the New York Tribune. Stars and Stripes editor Harold Ross, 26, is waiting in Marseilles to sail home to Manhattan, hoping to meet up again with the New York Times’ Jane Grant, just turning 27, whom he has been courting in Paris.

Stars and Stripes montage 1918


America, June, 1919

In St. Paul, Minnesota, on Summit Avenue, recently discharged serviceman F. Scott Fitzgerald, 22, is back home. He’s quit his job at the New York advertising agency Barron Collier, determined to finish his first novel, now called The Education of a Personage. Fitzgerald has received excellent advice, in letters and in person, from Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins, 34, and really wants to be published before the end of the year. He feels that will help him win back his ex-fiancee, Zelda Sayre, 18, of Montgomery, Alabama.

Fitz as soldier

Scott Fitzgerald in the Army

In a cabin near Ephraim, Wisconsin, Sherwood Anderson, 42, who has spent most of his life working in advertising, is camping with his wife Tennessee, 45. Anderson has been pleasantly surprised by the success of his third novel, Winesburg, Ohio, published last month. But the pressure of writing it, and now starting another, has been too much, and he feels he has to get away.


Sherwood Anderson

Farther south, in Oak Park, Illinois, another would-be writer home from the war, Ernest Hemingway, 19, has also been dumped by his fiancée, Agnes von Karowsky, 27. She was his nurse when he was injured as a Red Cross ambulance driver in Italy, and he was convinced they would marry back in the States. Von Karowsky has told him that she is now engaged to someone else, but he is writing to her again anyway, ever hopeful. Mostly he’s looking forward to going fishing for the first time in two years.

hemingway ambulance driver

Ernest Hemingway as an ambulance driver

In New York’s Greenwich Village, Margaret Anderson, 32, and Jane Heap, 36, publishers of The Little Review, are ignoring the censors and continuing to publish excerpts from Ulysses, the latest work by Irish writer James Joyce, 37, living in Zurich. They feel it is important literature, and are confident that their attorney, John Quinn, 48, will win their case in court.

littlereview Ulysses announcement

Initial announcement of Ulysses in The Little Review

In midtown, Vanity Fair’s publishers, Conde Nast, 46, and Frank Crowninshield, turning 47, on an extended fact-finding trip to Europe, have left new managing editor Robert Benchley, 29, in charge. He has been publishing parodies of regular Vanity Fair articles, and awarding bonuses to his colleagues, theatre critic Dorothy Parker, 25, and movie critic Robert Sherwood, 23.

Vanity Fair June 1919

Vanity Fair cover, June 1919

Parker has been invited to a luncheon at the nearby Algonquin Hotel. A press agent, to promote his client, new playwright Eugene O’Neill, 30, has asked the most important writers in Manhattan to lunch to welcome the Times drama critic, Woollcott, back from the war, and Parker has insisted that her new co-workers come along.

At lunch, Woollcott, who weighs only 195 for the last time in his life, has no interest in talking about anyone but himself and his exploits in the ‘theatre of war,’ of which he is inordinately proud.

To get back at him for monopolizing this meeting, and get more publicity, the PR flack invites other well-known critics from New York’s many publications to a big gathering at the Hotel. There are 12 dailies in Manhattan and five in Brooklyn. When 35 people show up, the hotel manager puts them at a big round table in the back of the dining room.

Tribune drama critic Heywood Broun, 30, and his wife, journalist Ruth Hale, 32, who had honeymooned by covering the war in France, are there. Tribune columnist FPA is invited as a personal friend of Woollcott.

In the next few weeks, their Stars and Stripes editor, Ross, joins the regular lunches. George S. Kaufman, 29, who works under Woollcott at the Times, comes and brings his playwriting partner Marc Connelly, 28.

When lunch is over, somebody says,

Why don’t we do this every day?’

And they do, for the next nine years.

hirshfield alg

The Algonquin Round Table by Al Hirschfeld

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

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