“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, late September, 1922, Presbyterian Hospital, New York City, New York


When American actor Paul Robeson, 24, in London, received the cable from his wife of one year, Essie Goode Robeson, 26, back in New York City, he couldn’t believe it.

Essie and Paul Robeson

Paul had been touring the UK in a play, Voodoo—called Taboo when he premiered it in the US—with legendary English actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, 57. He’d been writing letters home to Essie almost every day, but the ones he received from her seemed remote, with no comments regarding all the details he was giving her about his life here. Finally, he cabled her,


Something sure was wrong—Essie replied that she had been in the hospital the whole time! She hadn’t told him about the complications from her appendectomy, and she’d checked herself in right after he left for the UK. Essie had written out letters to him in advance and had friends send them to Paul at regular intervals so he wouldn’t worry. Ha!

Paul wrote back to say he will return home right away. The producers of the play have decided not to take it on to London, so Paul books a ticket on the RMS Homeric.

As soon as he docks in New York City, Robeson goes straight to Presbyterian Hospital where Essie, now a patient, has worked for years, even before her marriage, as a chemist in the Surgical Pathology Department. When Paul asks to see his wife, Essie, the receptionist says,

Oh, you’re Mr. Goode; I’ll take you right up!”

Reunited, Paul vows to stay by her side in the hospital until she is ready to go home to their house in Harlem to recuperate.

Presbyterian Hospital

“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 at Thoor Ballylee in Co. Galway, and as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA. They are also on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. 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.

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.